22 Aug 2011

The Struggle

A glimpse of my life lately, from my perspective.

I've been a hesitant blogger, and a reluctant "site" owner these last few months.
I love blogging, and writing, and keeping my business up to date. I think the problem is though, that it's been all under one roof. -That, and I'll admit, I have been insanely busy, with various life happenings.

I've been slow to post about life's events and daily interests because they aren't really "business" related, and this is supposed to be my *business* site.

However, I've also been slow to post about my artwork and business life, because I feel like I'm "spamming" the people who are here to read about crafting, recipes, canning, homeschooling and daily ramblings. (I know that you folks are out there!)

So I've come to the conclusion that I need another home for my true "blog". So much has been happening that I'd love to share, and so much is going to be happening soon (baby on the way!) but I just don't know if this should be the place for that.

This site, The Mayberry Sparrow, is going to continue to be my business site. I'll be posting new artwork, gallery event dates and related topics here, with the occasional link to my new blog, in case anyone should want to take a peek at that.

If you want to read more about the other side of things, outside the realm of illustration and rubber stamps,  you can wander on over to my new blog, The Mayberry Home Journal.
Hope to see you there!

17 Jun 2011

On My Desk

Due to this week's postal strike, I've had to put both of my shops on vacation until the situation is resolved. (Which we've been told will be soon, thank goodness!)
The only bright side to this, is that I have a wee bit more play time. Here's some of today's *play*.
I've been playing with florals a little too much lately, can you tell?

28 Apr 2011

Royal Wedding Printables

Unlike some enthusiasts, we won't be waking at 3 am tomorrow to watch the big event, however we ARE recording it so that we can watch it on Saturday while we have "high tea".

Just for this event, I've made up some little flags and buntings to add a little Royal flare to our party.

Feel free to print some off for your own celebrations!

Just click to enlarge, and print, or right click save etc. You know the drill!
Then cut, glue, staple...whatever method of ensuring permanency suits your fancy.



Have a marvey celebration, daahlings!

27 Apr 2011

A sneak peek at some new spring prints...

We've had nothing but rain here for the last few weeks...which has left a lot of time for painting, and dreaming about spring!

I feel like these poor little birds are playing the waiting game..."hurry up tree, grow some leaves!"
Was missing my southern family members when I painted this.

Fiona needed a brother...so I finally gave her one.  

The Kansas Wheatfield-where everything always smells of warm sunshine and fresh red dirt.

All will be made into prints shortly!
I've also got some new originals listed here:)

13 Apr 2011


I just noticed in this picture that only one of my office doors had "frost" on the windows..I still haven't finished that!!
And, I should clarify, that's a TOY gun leaning against the cabinet...haha.

I apologize-I've been AWOL for the last while. A lot has been happening around here! Illness, house/bedroom re-arranging/renovating (does it ever end?)

It all started on Chinese new year.
We celebrate this holiday most years, sometimes with a little more enthusiasm than others. (We have several families of Chinese friends that introduced us to the festivities a long time ago, and we fell in love with Chinese cuisine.)

 Often, for us, the holiday just means making dumplings, chicken, buying 12 different kinds of vinegar and having family over.
This year though, the boys really wanted to go all out. I don't blame them-after all, February is a really boring month, and little extra flair couldn't hurt.

So I let them thoroughly decorate our dining room (which kept them busy all day!) while I prepared food for dinner.

That day, I also woke up with the urge to pickle just about everything in the house. I had just run out of my favorite spicy pickled green beans that aren't even available in Canadian stores. I was gung-ho to make my own. (I know, this has nothing to do with Chinese new year. Don't ask me why...)

I pickled the green beans, which turned out really well. But I figured, while I was at it, sterilizing jars and such, I may as well make some other things.
I found a recipe for Moroccan pickled oranges, and made those too. And then I started in on the garlic. I already had huge trays of peeled garlic cloves that I had just bought at the Vietnamese grocery store. ( which, by the way, is the cheapest way to buy garlic, in case you're wondering!)

I found myself at the end of the day with more pickled fruits and vegetables than I knew what to do with! I ended up handing out the little jars as party favours. (I know. Not very Chinese!)

Long story short, it wasn't until my head hit the pillow that night with a combination of happiness and exhaustion, that I began to wonder....
Why on earth did I choose an already busy day to get out the canning equipment, and pickle fresh vegetables, in February?? Why was it so necessary that the pickling happen that day?

Sure enough...in two days, I had my answer.

Little did I know that I wouldn't be eating anything but tiny pieces of toast chased by shots of earl grey tea for the next three months.
The nausea is getting better now, I can actually eat again. I still have some major food aversions though.
Guess the last foods on earth I'd want to eat right now?! My all time favorite- Chinese (or anything Asian for that matter...) Go figure.

p.s. I almost posted this on April Fools...but I decided that was just kinda mean.

29 Jan 2011

Nobody Likes a Bragger...

But I just can't help it.
Look what I found this week, right here in a shop on my beloved Ottawa Street!
(I knew moving to this street could be dangerous...)

 I frequently stop by at  Granny's Attic Treasures just to see what wonderful
new find she has in her store.

I think it's safe to say that we've furnished a third of our house from antique stores on our street, and mostly from this shop alone. She carries all sorts of used furniture, some antique, some just well loved. And everything is so reasonably priced!

This is the table set that I have been literally dreaming about since I was a kid- I've always loved the era, and wanted a retro turquoise and red kitchen, it just feels
so cheery and warm!

Needless to say, my heart skipped a beat or two when I saw this table set. Our breakfast nook table was on the fritz, and I was already on the lookout for some new chairs, ours were falling apart on a regular basis. Also, the table legs had to be tightened on a daily basis. As much as I love Ikea, their furniture just doesn't hold up like the old stuff did.

This new (old) table set is so much more sturdy than the ikea one, no wiggling! (and twice as comfy:)
All we need now is a jukebox!

26 Jan 2011

Synesthesia, Dill Pickles & Potato Salad

I am a synesthete-but until a few years ago I didn't know that not everyone saw, thought, heard and tasted things the same way I did.

What I've gathered from recent discussions with friends, family and even some fellow synesthetes online, is that if you are a synesthete, you'll understand exactly what I'm talking about. If you are not, you'll ask what tree I recently fell from and how many branches I might have bumped my head on, on the way down.

I'm participating in a study right now-a British research team is conducting a study on synesthesia, and the different types. I have several types, some are complete, some are incomplete. I'll explain more of that a bit later...

My first realization of synesthesia was when Mark, ( my then fiance, now husband, yay!) had a conversation that went something like this: (I don't remember why I even asked...)

Corrie: Mark, how do YOU picture time?

Mark: huh?

Corrie: Like, in your head, what is your image of time?

Mark: I don't know what you're talking about.

Corrie: Well, when you're planning something-or remembering something, or just looking at a year at a time, or two, or all of history, or into the future, how do you picture it?

Mark: Silence.

Corrie: Mark?

Mark: I don't know what you mean. If I want "picture" time (he even did the Dr. Evil quotation twitch with his fingers) I'll look at a calendar.

Corrie: I don't mean picture a calendar. I mean, how do YOU see it, without the Calendar?

Mark: I don't.

Corrie: How do you function? How do you plan? how do you file away your day?

Mark: I think you're crazy.

You get the idea...this went on and on. This prompted me to do a little bit of Internet research-just to see what other supposed craziness might be housed in my brain.
oh boy.

Corrie: Um..Mark?

Mark: Yeah?

Corrie: you don't by any chance..um..know what pink tastes like do you?

Mark: what??

Corrie: Or what it sounds like?

Mark: what do you mean??

Corrie: or personify numbers/letters and associate colours with them? Or hear colours and tastes sounds? or assign colours to people you know?

Mark: No! I have NO idea what you're on about. Do YOU??

Corrie: um...well...yes. Yes I do.

Mark: you NERD! (I'm still convinced that he means this in the most endearing way. I mean, after all...he did still marry me, despite my quirks-And knowing fully well that we might make even quirkier synesthete babies!)

This led to me immediately calling my parents, sisters, best friends etc. I was absolutely shocked that my mother hadn't a clue what I was talking about. How could she not know?? I called my sister, Lindi.

"oh, yeah. I do that. What? it's a 'thing'?" (we've since compared how we picture time-totally different, I'm just comforted that I'm not the only one.)

We then together confronted Dad, and my other sister.
Dad knew. He KNEW! He pictures time-and personifies some numbers...

Then my youngest sister, Elise-she associates people with colours, and pictures time too.

Dad once asked my sisters and I what colour he was, and immediately, as if rehearsed, all three of us in unison said "brown". Weird. (we assured him that brown was pretty, not poopy.)

Basically-I hear certain noises or musical notes/chords, I'll see certain colours. No, I know that they aren't actually there-but it's very real. I don't know any other way to explain it than that.

Numbers and letters all have colours (almost. I have a few numbers without colours.)
Some numbers and letters have a personality. I remember doing this more when I was a kid than I do now.
Now, If anything, I get numbers and letters mixed up because often, they share the same colour.
For example, 3, F and R, they're all a pinkish colour. When I see any of these, I often mistakenly put down another pink character.
This does me NO favors when it comes to math, writing out addresses or reading out loud. (reading to myself I'm absolutely fine. Reading out loud though can be challenging from time to time.-Especially when certain words have their own colours....I won't get into that.)

Certain smells trigger certain feelings, sometimes a sharp pain in my side, or the bottom of my foot. Certain colours trigger tastes. (Purple can taste really bad-not at all like grapes!)

And of course, last but certainly not least, the whole picture of time. This is so complex that I'm not entirely sure that i could illustrate it-although I think I'm going to try, just for fun. Because of this image of time I have (it's not really an image, it's a 3 dimensional, intricate, moving system) I have a very good long term memory-and can remember being extremely young.

Synesthesia can be hereditary, but doesn't have to be. Zeke and Reuben each show a few signs, although I don't want to ask about it too much. It can be really overwhelming once you're made aware of how you're thinking.

Mark and Mom still don't understand the whole "picturing time" thing, we've all tried to explain it several times.
However, not too long ago, my Mom walked up to my sisters and I when we were discussing this, again at a family function and said

"I remembered something! When I was a kid, there were two girls in my class. They were sisters. And I don't know why, but one WAS dill pickles, and the other one WAS potato salad. No doubt about it."

Maybe it's a little more hereditary than we thought;)

24 Jan 2011

What I'm Reading: The Creative License

I don't remember who it was that told me that I should check out "the Creative License" by Danny Gregory, but when I remember who that person was,  I'll be sure to thank them!

While it's not  very often that I struggle to find a creative spark (which this book is supposed to help with-if you struggle with inspiration, read it!) I do sometimes have a difficult time validating my time spent drawing, painting, even cooking!  

Even if it's work that I sell, or dinner that needs made anyway, and even if it's time I'm spending with my children as we do these activities (something that I strive to do- involve them in meal preparation, or create along side of me while I'm working in my own illustrations), I'll find myself saying "you should be doing laundry", or "you don't really need to be zesting lemons for this dish. Save time, skip it". 

I feel a twinge of guilt when I take time to do mundane things in a creative way. Why does making an extra effort to make things look nicer trigger guilt? Is it the slight amount of extra time that it takes? Or the the fact that I get enjoyment out of my job, and things that are usually ordinary, and often boring tasks?

I was raised in a creative household-these feelings certainly don't stem from my upbringing. My mother nurtured creativity like a very gentle gardener, with encouragement and little expectation or pressure- something for which I'll always be thankful. 

I also remind myself that God himself enjoys creation-and that we're created in his image. It makes so much sense that we would achieve such glorious satisfaction in time spent doodling, shaping wet clay, or even making dinner look a little more colourful than it absolutely needs to be. We were carefully designed by our Father to find joy and admiration of Creation.

In reading this book, the introduction alone had more to say about the artist within than any other (non-biblical) book I've read before, and I thought I'd share a couple paragraphs that I found to hit home.

"Our bodies are always turning one thing into another, transforming food, air and water into movement, sweat, offspring, gas. (Even when your body is dead, you will still be creative as you start to nourish the soil, beetles, carrion birds and fill the earth with methane.)
If you try to suppress that urge, you will starve, your bowels will become impacted, your joints will freeze, you will die.
And similarly, when you suppress the creative urge in your mind, you become cramped, constipated, hopeless and slowly you die.
All that creative energy an inextricable part of you, will be diverted into self torture, and you will create doubt and anxiety and hostility and stress and paranoia and anger and resentment.
In the end, you will see you can't really suppress your creative urge. As Jeff Goldblum says in Jurassic park, Nature will find a way"

"When we continue to deny who we truly are and suppress our ability to create, we become crippled and shut down. Our minds grow narrower as we shut out anything unexpected that doesn't fit with how we've told ourselves the world truly is.
We speed through life, wanting to get on to the next thing, unable to take pleasure in the moment."

"Ironically, our society tends to portray artists as dreamers. But those who suppress their creativity are actually the ones living in a dream. An artist is someone who sees and feels reality very intensely. Creativity doesn't mean  must making things up out of thin air. It means seeing and feeling the world so vividly that you can put together connections and patterns that help to explain reality. It means you see the beauty in the world rather than trying to hide from it."-Danny Gregory, A Creative License.

If you struggle as I sometimes do, or are just looking for something to spark some inspiration, definitely take a look at this book. It doesn't matter if you're young or old, as artistically talented as Da Vinci himself or completely without artistic skill of any sort, this book is worth reading. It will cause you to explore yourself within, and challenge you to live your life more fully.

This book is available HERE:)

21 Jan 2011

It's Friday, I'm in Love

An interesting observation...
I've been on etsy almost 5 years-and have not even once created a treasury, and I've been thinking, it's about time.
So today I created this. Hope it brings you feelings of sweaty palms and a racing heart.
-in that good sort of way, of course-

On another, not so pretty note, this morning I regretfully stumbled upon this sweet bit of nauseousness.

Regretsy is one of those places that I thoroughly enjoy- but I think I would die if one of my little creations should find a home there.

However, this time, it's not an Etsy seller that has fallen victim to a public flogging, it's Anthropologie.
Don't worry. I couldn't believe it either until I saw it listed there with my own tortured eyes.

I usually pay more attention to their "housewares" than anything else, but I was under the assumption that Anthropologie had a *little* more class than plastic dinosaurs that have been hot-glued to a dollar store silk flower arrangement.
but maybe that's just me?

This is a sad sad sad day in Anthropologie love land.

19 Jan 2011

Since Sliced Bread

Head phones hat. Lipstick red. Custom order

Head phones hat. Lipstick red. Custom order

These headphone hats from etsy shop escaodesign are the greatest.

Just sayin'.

18 Jan 2011

Faux Bois Valentines-A DIY Rubber Stamp Carving Tutorial

I thought it was about time that I posted a rubber stamp tutorial. This design might look like a tricky stamp to carve, but it's actually super easy. The beautiful thing about wood grain, is that there are no "rules"- So if you go off track, no one will ever know!
Aside from some blank rubber block (which I've just realized that
I've forgotten in my list-durrr), you'll need a few tools.

1. Ink pad. (any ink pad will do!)

2.Scissors. This is just for cutting your heart out in the end. (ok, I just re-read that. Not YOUR heart. You will cut out a PAPER heart.) I'll bet you never thought valenetines could be so violent;)

3.A bone folder. If you don't have one, the back of a spoon or the
handle of a butter knife will do.

4. A 4b (or softer) pencil. I didn't use a 4b, I used a 2b, and see
how light my lines are? They should be darker! Seeing as I've done this a few times, I didn't bother using my 4b.(My 4B may or may not have been holding up my hair at the time...)

5. Xacto knife, or utility knife. Xacto does have a lot more precision though, so anything long that comes to a fine tip will be okay.

6. A small V tip Carver-I use a speedball size 1. You can use larger, but keep in mind, the smaller the tip, the smaller the lines will be.

7. Clip Art. (which will be at the bottom of this post.)

8.Chip board or card stock-your call! (or any other surface you feel
like printing;)
Step 1. Print off clip art to your preferred size. Mine is
about 2.5"x3" .
Go over the lines with your freshly sharpened 4b pencil.

2. Once all the lines are covered in pencil, turn the artwork
over, face down onto your carving block. You can position it however
you like, just make sure that the artwork isn't hanging over the edge.

Gently rub the back of your artwork with the edge of the bone folder, until you've rubbed the entire heart onto the block. (This will feel a lot like putting on a temporary tattoo;)

You can lift the edges slightly now and then to see if it's transferred completely. If it has, remove the paper. If it hasn't, continue to rub the back until it's completely transferred. Be careful to hold it down with one hand while transferring, as it can slide around and cause double lines.
3. Now that your design is transferred, use your xacto and cut your design from your carving block. Not exactly on the outside line, just roughly, to remove it from the rest of your block.

4. Now that the heart is separated from the rest of the block and easier to handle, you can carefully cut around the shape of the heart. If you really want to, you could do this at the very end-I always do it before hand though, because I find it easier to maneuver while carving this way.

5. This is the fun part! Now you get to take your carver and carefully cut each pencilled line. Gently push the blade away from you, keeping the tip of the blade almost parallel with the surface of the carving block. Keep in mind, the deeper you cut, the wider your lines will be.

If you wanted to, you could make a reverse image, and remove all the empty space for a completely different look. (That would be a bit trickier.) But If you're up for a challenge, have at it!

6. This step is optional. I chose to remove the middle square from my heart, and leave the space empty. If you don't want to do this, that's a-ok. It will just mean that in the end, this part will be inked, rather than blank.

You could use a larger tip for this too, and cut deeper, if you want fewer lines to show up in the end. I rather like the added texture though, it adds an extra "hand carved" feel to the print in the end, so I continued to use my small tip for this.
7. Now you get to use your stamp! I find that with stamps this large, it's easier to do things a little backwards.

Rather than pressing the stamp onto the pad, press the stamp pad on to the stamp. This way you can see if it's thoroughly inked, if the ink is even, and you don't get near as much ink on your fingers;)

8. Stamp your hearts out onto your card stock. As you stamp, be sure to press all over the back of your stamp, to get a completely transferred image.

That's one of the beauties of hand carved stamps; you can selectively press different areas of the stamp at a time.
If you didn't want the middle hollowed out square to show up at all, you wouldn't have to press there.

Last but not least, cut your hearts out and voila! I punched a hole in mine and strung some sweet bakers twine through them and used them as tags. You could play cupid though, if you wanted to, and hand them out to your truly best-est buddies.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me through my stamp shop, where I'll soon be carrying stamp carving supplies!


17 Jan 2011

Stylish Blogger Award

My "twin" sister and I with some "yarn bombing" at James Street North Art Crawl.
(we aren't twins-in fact, we don't think we look alike at all. But People say we do, and unfortunately
we accidentally wear the same thing on many occasions. On this evening, I think we both looked like gnomes!)

Much to my merriment, I've been granted the "Stylish Blogger Award" by Laura, of BlueTerracotta. Thanks Laura!
So, I'm supposed to tell you seven things about myself, and then present fifteen wonderful blogs with the Stylish Blogger Award.

So let's see...

1. My absolute favorite tea is Earl Grey. I like it hot, or iced, unsweetened.

2. I have a collection of dead bees, moths and butterflies that I've collected from various places. (window sills etc). I use them to refer to when illustrating insects.

3. I never know what to say when people ask me where I'm from. In Kansas, they say I sound "Canadian". Yet here, I'm told I sound like a hillbilly. I can live with both. (however, I wasn't born in Kansas OR in Canada, I was born in Illinois.)

4. I can barely break a sweat (even after running for miles...) It's a curse. This means that I get extremely high fevers when ill.

5. I'd rather have 10 more babies naturally, than to ever have to have a cavity drilled again. I kid you not, Novocaine has no effect on me what so ever.

6. I love growing and canning my own vegetables, and getting soil under my fingernails.

7.  I'm related to Buffalo Bill Cody. (He was my great somethin' or other.) yeehaw!

So, here are 15 blogs that I think rock-to which I will now pass this award:


Added For Felicity: (see comments)
My Great Grandpa, Lyman Cody(about age 2) at Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show
I love his long curls, and his smart little outfit!
My son Reuben has a striking resemblance, especially when he was this age.

12 Jan 2011

Argh, Be My Matey!

I've always had a soft spot in my heart for old calling cards.
 Long before business cards, people would carry a calling card, to let a friend know that they stopped by. To read more about them, see here.
Calling cards are what inspired me to create this size of valentine. I have a few of my great grandfather's old cards that he received as a child from school friends-not just for valentines day but for other occasions as well.

They're beautifully printed and embossed in gold and silver, often professionally printed with the senders name. These cards are simply all together classy!
I was really surprised to hear my grandmother explain that even children had their own cards for special occasions. How glorious!
I started making a few for my boys, and they absolutely loved leaving these special little
messages for people.
While these are much more silly and childish than the ones my great grandfather,
"Master Freddy Mayberry" received, they're sure to be fun for both the sender and the recipient!

Petey Pirate Valentines -Set of 10
Petey Pirate Valentines - in my print shop.
Also, some sweet little birds for the slightly less obnoxious at heart.
Little Love Bird Valentines -Set of 10
Both designs are created from my hand carved stamps. Rather than hand stamping each
card (as I've done in previous years) I've had the images scanned, and turned them over to
a professional printer. The colours are beautifully vivid-and this way I won't suffer from carpel tunnel syndrome from hand stamping each one;)

Yarn Bombing

Hamilton is a weird place. We're a town known for a history in the steel industry, the Hamilton Tiger Cats (cfl team) and notoriously known for our steaming man hole covers. (really.) Our newest development is becoming fastest growing arts community in Canada. YAY!

We do have our share of setbacks, mostly political-you can bet that if anything good or successful is going to happen in Hamilton, the politicians won't have a hand in it. It will be purely spontaneous, and almost by accident. Our city councilors will and do manage to mess up even the easiest tasks and planning... I won't go into that right now though, as that would take hours.

Luckily, one thing Hamiltonians are really good at is spontaneity. We've got a few quirks here and there that are fun, but also rather odd. Like our dancing guy.
I've had the privilege of seeing this guy dance around Hamilton more than once. This guy has moves!
There's rumor that he won't dance in the same spot more than once, so I'm glad someone finally has taken a video.

We also have a dancing "Cowboy". (by Cowboy, I mean a cowboy hat and boots, but much to our disgust this also involves a white leisure suit and a nasty big 'ol belt buckle. *shiver*) He sings, and shuffles around town, and will occasionally ask a passer-by for some coin so that he can buy his favorite kind of cheese. Thankfully, no one has that on video-that I know of.

Our newest curiosity is "yarn bombing". Now I know that our city isn't the first to experience this-I've heard about it elsewhere. But I'm really glad to see this kind of happiness around my city.

I keep seeing these little surprises popping up all over the place. I don't know who's responsible, but it's fantastic. And especially when it was over Christmas! What could be more festive than a tree wearing a sweater?

Photos courtesy of the sweethearts of the White Elephant . (the most fun little shop in downtown Hamilton.)

I'm constantly on the lookout now-I can't wait to see what other little nutty tricks our city has up it's sleeves!