It’s Halloween! Nearly.

I am dressing up and touring the neighbourhood as Cruella D’Evil. Black and white cocktail dress, talcum powder in my hair and wicked make up. It’s going to be fabulous. Presuming the snow stays away and it’s not too cold. Otherwise, I will be going as a sleeping bag.

A few weekends ago, I went in search of a pumpkin to carve. I came back with 5. I thought it would be easy, it turns out that my mum really used to do most of the manual labour for this when I was younger and, therefore, gave me an unrealistic impression of how boring pumpkin carving is! Thanks mum!

Watermelons or pumpkins…you decide.

The Canadian and I spent a great part of last weekend carving 2 pumpkins. There was one large and one small. And both were equally tiresome to clean out and carve. We had 5 pumpkins and I was bored after two. I wasn’t really sure what to do to ensure that the other purchases had been worthwhile. I really wanted to use these for Halloween!

I was doing my daily exploration of blog posts when I came across the Boo pumpkin at Life Over Easy (fabulous blog by the way!). I loved the idea of sticking letters on a pumpkin but I was still a little stumped because I didn’t want to buy letters. In the end, it was going to the pet store, where an overzealous assistant had painted and branded a pumpkin to match the stores logo. I asked her what she’d used only to learn that acrylic paint does a really brilliant job of sticking to pumpkins. What’s better is that you’re not actually wasting pumpkin when you do this. So here’s the last minute idea for pumpkin decorating:

Last Minute DIY Pumpkin Decorating


A pumpkin


Black and white acrylic paint

Paintbrush (quite a small one) 


I started off by searching the internet to get inspiration. Try looking for “Pumpkin Silhouettes”.

After I’d found one that struck my fancy, I outlined it with pencil on the pumpkin itself.

I then painted within the lines, embellishing as I went.

Tip: I found that having separate paintbrushes for each colour meant I could work faster, as there was no need for washing the brush in between colours.

Tip: I loved the dollar store paint because it dried really fast. Nothing worse than getting paint all over the counter!

These are the results, what do you think? Which is your favourite?

We’re going to be hosting a really awesome giveaway this Friday, so be sure to stay tuned!

Black and White Mini Christmas Cards

Is it too early to start the discussion on Christmas cards? Probably but I’m going to do it anyway. Christmas is getting closer and I decided to make some Christmas cards. I will be putting them in my Etsy Shop today and tomorrow. This entire past weekend was focused on Christmas cards and Christmas. I’ve had Christmas carols bouncing around my head since Friday.

Not your traditional Christmas colours. Turquoise and Purple Christmas Collection

I have a seven packs of 10 to sell, each pack with it’s own individual colour scheme. Each pack costs $11 plus postage.

Red and Purple Christmas Collection

There are also large cards for sale too with a discount code (buy 2 get the 3rd for free) available if you enter this code at the checkout LH3for2 (this code cannot be used with the multi packs).

Each card in my shop is hand drawn, hand painted or a mixture of the two. They are not prints and are definitely one of a kind items. I spent all weekend making, photographing and writing up my Etsy products and I’m really impressed with how the finished product looks.

Is there a design or type of card that you would like to see? What else would you like to see in the shop?

A very merry collection: yellow and turquoise Christmas collection

I have included a nice new footer on my blog (see the bottom), which will enable you to check out my wares whenever you drop by. Clicking an image will take you straight to the shop where you can explore even more items.

What do you think? Is this your style?

I have lots of sketchbooks and notebooks all over my house. I use them to practice new techniques, inks, pens, pencils and charcoals and to jot down some of my thoughts and feelings. I guess in some ways they are art journals but in other ways they are just a place for me to practice, practice, practice.

Here is the art book I bought in the UK when I was there in the Spring. It hasn’t seen as much action as the other art books but here are a few sample pages.


The three images above were practice productions. (1) I was trying out a new pen, (2 and 3) I was using up left over paint. There’s something very, very wrong about wasting paint.


A two hour train jouney from Leeds to Manchester and then somewhere else (Bradbury, I believe) for my close friend’s 25th birthday. My fingers were freezing. I forgot how cold England can be and there’s something about train stations that make the weather feel worse…is it just me that experiences that?

The last two are a result of exploring patterns and potential wedding care covers. They were quick and fun.

Do you have an art book? Do you use it for a specific thing, or do you just put down whatever pops into your head?

The art of gratitude and being grateful can be hard. In some cultures, it can feel awkward and cumbersome to express little tidbits of thankfulness and grace. However, it’s a worthwhile challenge to do and the benefits of showing gratitude, appreciation and admiration are immense.

Firstly, Erika at Chimerikal started a fun little link-up about gratitude and I decided to play ball. I blogged last week about Thanksgiving and how grateful I was for all the love in my life. Instead of waxing lyrical about how wonderful my life is, I thought I’d talk a little bit about what gratitude is.

I did some research last week and found a brilliant blog by Amit. Amit of Happier Human has done all sorts of research into gratitude and it’s health benefits. He has written numerous blog articles and reviewed individual journal articles. As a psychology graduate, I liked this A LOT. Firstly, because I am geeky and secondly, because I wanted to provide you with real, solid information.

Relatively speaking there hasn’t been a lot of research into gratitude, don’t get me wrong, there’s still loads out there but if you compared it to research on memory, gratitude is definitely left lacking.

So before I dive into all the good parts of what gratitude can do for you, I thought it best to have a think about what it means to be grateful.

What is gratitude?

Gratitude is experienced culturally but it is expressed throughout the world with many societies finding cultural and linguistic methods for showing it (McCullough, Kilpatrick, Emmons and Darson et al., 2001). The feeling of gratitude is defined in multiple ways and there really isn’t a single way to describe it as it is.

It’s a super hard feeling to define but it has been described as a mix of joy and admiration. Research has found heavy links between the gratitude and feelings of happiness, pride, contentment, hope, trust and regard (Emmons & McCullough, 2003).

Some (Brown & Levison, 1987, as cited in McCullough et al., 2001) believe that gratitude is anything from a state of feeling indebted or socially obligated to another individual because of a kind act to an expression of politeness.

I’m not so sure I like these definitions because, for me, gratitude isn’t about ‘owing’ someone a favour, so I was happy to find that Emmons and McCullough (2003), stated that gratitude focused more on the perception of the individual focusing on a positive personal outcome. The positive outcome was not necessarily deserved but it had happened anyway. They went on to say that the outcome had to have been brought about by another person, which, in my experience, isn’t always true. Wood, Joseph and Linley (2008) obviously think in a similar manner to me, stating that those who expressed gratitude and were happiest often involved a wider range of people and events, including God, sunrises, sunsets, weddings and good memories for which to be grateful for.

Why is gratitude important?

Well, gratitude is something that makes up massive parts of many cultures, with major religions espousing the necessity of gratitude and the act of being grateful. It plays a big role in Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddist and Hindu thought, to name but a few.

In fact, gratitude is such a revered feeling in society that to be accused of ‘ingratitude’ is a great offense and a big indication of moral failure. This is a universally powerful accusation (McCullough et al., 2001) and means that gratitude has more importance within society than we generally acknowledge.

For me, gratitude is important for my own journey as a person, but it has greater benefits for society, with research showing that gratitude promotes the use of kindness to oneself, other people and society. Overall, gratitude can help the world run smoother and assist in making relationships better.

Next week:

I’m going to start looking into the benefits that showing and expressing gratitude can have on your health and general well being.

What do you think? Does this sum up gratitude to you?

GRAD-ITUDE 101: A Linkup By Chimerikal


1. Write a post and/or comment about gratitude. (The link you submit to the linkup must be the actual post’s URL and not just your homepage or it’ll be removed.)

2. This linkup is also about support and community, so read and comment on at least one other person’s post about gratitude. 🙂

3. Link back to this project in your post. Feel free to use the little button above or upload one of your own!


Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E., (2003), An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 372-389.

McCullough, M.E., Kilpatrick, S.D., and Emmons, R.A., Darson, D.B., (2001), Is gratitude a moral affect? Psychological Bulletin, 127, 2, 249-266.

When I was very little, my mum used to read Miss Poppy and the Honey Cake to me, which is the best book in the history of the world.

We often baked the cake and it was always a bit of a disappointment. It never really looked like the illustration and the taste never quite lived up to what I wanted it to be – not my mum’s fault at all, as she is a rather excellent baker, instead, I choose to blame the recipe in the storybook. Seeing as I’ve been obsessed with food recently , it seemed only right that I fully look up a way to make this bloomin’ honey cake.

Hello Google and Hello Smitten Kitchen. I read her article in depth and realised that I wasn’t alone in bad honey cake experiences. Having finally completed SK recipe, I can also honestly say that it was the best cake I’ve ever made! Just don’t make the mistake I did, it says tsps of cinnamon NOT tbsp! Although, if you do use tbsp, it really doesn’t taste so bad.

We took it to my mother-in-law’s house for dinner and she insisted on keeping it, so I had few pictures to share. It’s really yummy though and a good recipe for some weekend baking.

 A few days ago, I spoke with a great friend in Edmonton who gave me a brilliant recipe for peanut chocolate crisps. They are super dooper easy to make and, if I get her permission, I’ll type it up here, but here’s a sneak preview at the results:

Are you a baker? Where do you get your cooking inspiration from? Are you a recipe follower or a throw things in a bowl and see where it goes person?

I won the CAF third place price for environmental photography!

I don’t often submit my work into competitions.

Firstly, I am super scared of rejection (isn’t everyone?). Secondly, I don’t often think that anything I do is good enough to compete, so I don’t bother and third, it feels a bit boastful.

All of these things are issues that I need to work on.

When I came across the CAF  Photography Contest I was really skeptical.  I didn’t want to enter but The Canadian and a good friend in Kingston (Ontario) encouraged me. I decided to do it and challenge my first reservation. I didn’t mind if I didn’t win, in fact, it would provide me with the opportunity to learn. There were so many people competing that I truly believed that I didn’t stand a chance. I love my own images, they’re so exciting to me, that it didn’t matter if anyone else felt the same way. So, I entered, reluctantly, two hours before the deadline.

I struggled to think of titles for all of my images, except this one.

picture of a red barn in a yellow field against a gloomy dull sky

As soon as I finished editing this one, I realised it summed up my feelings about our last posting in Alberta. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the people I met and the memories I made there, but Alberta was isolating for me. It was also the place I experienced culture shock and the whole ‘fish out of water’ thing. It wasn’t ‘our’ posting, it was The Canadian’s and I felt trapped. In the end, I settled on the title “An Isolated Posting”. It just seemed to fit.

I’m glad that the emotion in this image was conveyed clearly and that someone felt it worthy enough to win third place. I cannot even express how happy I am about that alone, nor how inspired it has made me feel to continue practicing. Over the summer, my confidence with photo taking was knocked pretty hard, so this was a much needed pick me up.

Here are some of the others that I submitted:

A Cold Day on a Windy Beach

Bokeh Lights and traffic on a wet night

I took a lot away from entering this competition. I had to backtrack through my archives and figure out which photographs I would submit. While I was doing this, I rearranged my photographs and images (it was long overdue!). I also watched my progress with photography and my growth and knowledge with not only my camera but with photography concepts as well. All of a sudden I seemed to understand white balance, composition and the power of black and white images. I also noticed how my post-production techniques improved gradually over time as well.

Cat in a Box

It was a rewarding experience to sift through my images and re-examine my photographs. It made me feel proud and it inspired me to keep trying. That alone boosted my confidence after my little set back.

I have always liked my own images. And that’s the point. I don’t think I would continue to take photographs if I felt I was completely rubbish, nor would I continue if I felt that I didn’t have anything more to learn. My pleasure of the recognition doesn’t come from winning third place, nor does it come from being perceived as better (or worse – I guess) than anyone else. My pleasure comes from the fact that someone, somewhere thought one of my images was ok. That someone who wasn’t related, married or friendly to me and who had nothing to lose by saying otherwise thought that something I created was alright. And, that makes me feel positive. It makes me think that maybe my self-taught skills are on the right track, that maybe I’m able to connect with people through the images I create and that maybe someday I’ll be able to enter competitions as more than a ‘novice’. It inspires me to continue because it just confirms that I took the right path in March 2012.


Cat stares into camera with intrigue

Lake Louise Alberta Slow melt

Personally, my favourite is the bottom landscape image, which is yours? Have you ever entered a photography competition? What markers indicate your progression toward hobbies and goals?

What’s a pin? How do I find a board? How do I …?

I love Pinterest and everyone should love it. It’s a mood board. An online mood board,  where I can make wish lists for my mum and The Canadian to look through, a place where I can put crafts I want to do and code I want to learn. all. in. one. place.

So, I put together a little bit of an introductory guide to Pinterest, in true Pinterest style. So, look over it and see the typed out information at the bottom!

Pinterest Navigation

Creating Content on Pinterest

Pinterest Profile Navigation

Finding Content, Boards and People on Pinterest

Exploring Other Peoples’ Pinterest Profiles and the Art of Repinning

My technical skills failed me when trying to upload the above image, Blogger and Photobucket kept resizing the image regardless of what size I uploaded. However, you can find the image in it’s entirety here.

Read on to answer more of your questions about Pinterest…mum, I’m talking to you…

What is a Pin?

A pin is an image that directly links to the source. You can ‘pin’ images to your boards from other people’s boards and, once you get more advanced, you can ‘pin’ images from the internet onto your boards.

How does this Pinterest stuff even work?

So, you know what a pin is, right?

When you pin something you have to immediately categorise it because Pinterest likes neat and tidy. When you first pin an image, Pinterest will prompt you to create a board for it. Pins go into boards. All boards can be viewed under your profile name, and you can view everyone else’s boards.

The idea is that you can then review topics and content of interest for you at the right time, there’s no point pinning your living room ideas with your weekend baking plans.

Pinterest does allow you to create secret boards, but don’t worry about this yet, it’s way advanced!

But, how do I pin things and how do I create boards?

This image shows you an example of boards (at the top) and below that an image of a blown up pin. To find an image you like, search for them and explore peoples’ profiles. Once you find a board of interest (see below) you can click on it, it will bring up all the pins on that board, look through them, find a pin that you like and click on it.

Pinterest will blow up the image for you, so you can see a close up and see where it comes from. You will see at the top of the image that you are able to ‘pin it’ (see the red there?). Once you click that you’re half way there…

A box will pop up asking you which board it needs to go into. If you scroll to the bottom of the drop down menu, you will also have the option of creating a new pin.

Once you’ve labelled it appropriately, press “Pin It” and you’re done!

Congrats, you’ve pinned your first pin.

How do I find your boards (someone’s boards specifically)?

You can find other peoples’ boards by searching for them. At the top of the pinterest page, you will see an option to search. You can type names, phrases and board names. Anything goes in that box.

As soon as you start typing, Pinterest suggests people based on who you are already following, if the person you’re looking for is not there, then keep typing and press enter.

Once the search results come up, you will see a bar that says ‘pins’, ‘boards’, ‘pinners’.


The content under ‘pins’ will show you only content that is specific to the words you typed. They will be images and you will be able to repin them to your own boards (see above).


All the boards that match the keywords you put in will appear in this window. This is where you can find some pretty cool boards to follow.


This is where you will find profiles. So, if you typed in my name “Hannah Teej”, you would find my profile under “pinners”, by clicking on my name you would be taken to a list of my boards, and therefore my pins.

 What’s the point in following people? And, how do I do it…?

If you’ve followed the images above and managed to pin a few things then you’ll probably want to start thinking about following people.

Following people means that when you log in, you’ll see more of what you want to see.

Once you’ve logged in, Pinterest shows you a screen dedicated to all the people you follow and their recent pins. By following specific boards and people you will see images that are of more of an interest to you and discover more exciting web pages online.

Following people is easy.

Search for people and content (see the above question), when you find things you like, look at the person who pinned it, look over their boards and, if you like what you see, follow individual boards.

If you really like what you see when you’re navigating their profile, scroll to the top of their profile page and ‘follow all’.

Simple as that. Now whenever that person pins to a board that you follow, you will see the image in your newsfeed.

Exciting, right?


That’s that. I am all worded out about Pinterest. But if you need a simplified version of this information, comment below and I’ll answer you questions. I love seeing people on Pinterest, it’s one of my greatest sources of inspiration.

P.S. Mum…get on this!


Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s Thanksgiving weekend in Canada.

Which is great.

But, how do Canadians celebrate the day?

I still don’t really know the answer to this question and I’m on my third year in the country!

The first year, we spent it with some of The Canadian’s friends. I’d been in the country some 3 weeks, so it was all pretty new to me.

The following year, The Canadian and I were preparing for his deployment. He left 2 days later. We had fun making a big thanksgiving meal for friends who were also in Edmonton. It was really fun, but somewhat tinged with sadness for the two of us.

Last year, we spent time with The Canadian’s mum, but having just moved into our first house some 14 days earlier, we were not particularly focused on thanksgiving.

So, this year celebrates my fourth thanksgiving.

I have no idea how to celebrate it. Canadians seem to enjoy sitting around and eating food together. After that, it seems pretty much like a ‘anything goes’, similar to the way that people around the globe celebrate Christmas.

I’m really not one for sitting around and discussing everything that I’m grateful for. I find it awkward and uncomfortable, which is odd, because I’ve never had a problem expressing love and gratitude through writing. I try to express gratitude throughout the year, but it is nice to have a day dedicated to it, unlike in the UK, where Thanksgiving doesn’t really ‘happen’.

In an attempt to try to appropriate the day to work for my little family (including the cats and, in the spirit of the day, I’ll also include the bloomin’ ladybirds that seem to have taken residence in my house!), I decided to start my own mini traditions. By starting my own traditions I develop my own warm, cosy and happy feelings about the day. This would be fantastic because quite often I just don’t get excited about thanksgiving, it’s just not a big deal to me, even though I desperately want it to be.

{Initially, we’d planned to go to my mother in law’s home for Thanksgiving but The Canadian is not well today, so instead, we are going to watch Disney films and eat left over curry…and visit the paint store. Yup, because making our home exciting makes us excited!}

Having decided to mindfully enjoy my experiences here, I am going to list some of the more positive aspects of my life, especially the ones that make me feel most thankful, because apparently that’s what you do, or am I mixing it up with the American traditions?! Either way…here goes:

  • I am thankful that I decided to travel first class on 26th October 2008 (just saying)
  • I am grateful for the amazing support of my parents and mother-in-law during 2011-2012, that was a particularly rough period and without that support I would have been so alone.


  • I am overjoyed that I have friends and family that I love. Friends and family around the globe, on different continents, countries and cities, with different religions, social outlooks, passions and purposes. I have friends in Prescott, Kingston, Edmonton, Heidelberg, Leeds, Manchester, Tripoli… that is amazing. If you had told me that I would have friends all over the globe when I was little, I just wouldn’t have believed you, it’s truly magical and baffling but I am genuinely grateful for those friendships. Especially the ones that pushed me to stay in touch when I was going through dark periods in my life. I feel truly loved by my friends and my family and I am so grateful for that love.
  • Although I am sometimes sad that I don’t have a tight knit circle of friends that I see regularly and often, I know that this is because I have travelled and moved pretty consistently since I was 22. I have been lucky to have the ability to reside in two different countries, when some people are not safe to reside in any.


  • I am grateful that this year, I am able to eat. It’s a small thing to me but it’s a big deal to so many people around the globe.


  • My mum used to always disagree with me. I hated it, but in a different light, it made me comfortable disagreeing with other people and being ok with it. Although, mum, you can stop now… I’ve learnt my lesson! AGREE WITH ME, always.


  • I’m thankful my mother in law is not typical. I enjoy that she’s a secret hippy at heart, although she will likely disagree with this


  • I’d like to express my gratitude to two friends in particular. There was my childhood friend, the one who exposed me to a different way of the world, before the world became anti-anything different. She was and continues to be amazing. We were so different but we were the best of friends. Thank you for your patience with me during those incredibly difficult moments. Oh, and that time that I fell in the mud and you totally made it ok because you were confident where I was not. Secondly, to the friend I met at university. The one who grew with me and who never judged me. The one that offers to pay for me come back to England and will have rants with me about everything possible, send me chocolate and tell me when I’m being ridiculous. She also sends me very practical advice when I’m panicking, like ‘maybe a bath will help’. See, sensible because baths help everything. I am grateful for all of the beautiful people in my life, but the two of you are really amazing.
  • Finally, I am grateful for The Canadian. I don’t often talk of him on here, but he’s always there. Sometimes, he’ll just tell me to go and do something creative. Other times, he’ll sit and listen to me as I tearfully explain that I feel lost/miss home/miss British Christmas. Then there are the times he’ll drive around Edmonton searching for a duck and will reluctantly happily pay $80 for an organic, freerange, tiny duck so that I will have a bit of a England at Christmas. He will happily attend appointments I set up and have long discussions as I rearrange our entire finances. He will listen to my big plans for renovation and set up a Pinterest board to make sure that we can both stay up to date with what my plans are. Generally, he’s pretty cool and I am grateful for his affection and presence in my life.

Are you celebrating thanksgiving? How do you celebrate it? How do you get that ‘thanksgiving’ feeling?

When I first purchased my sketchbook I practiced with pattern. Using inspiration I found on Pinterest, I combined, copied* and developed my own style.
Pattern inspiration: Top Left, Top Middle, Top Right. Pasta drawing was just practice.

I started studying other people’s work, and then, I moved on to drawing what I could see. Namely, pasta and fruit. It was really rewarding to see my drawing style develop and to practice different techniques.

Fruit Inspiration: Pineapples, Cherries

Personally, I love ink. Any ink. Ball point pen, biros, expensive flowy ink pens, felt tip pens. I love being able to build texture and detail. Pen has always been my thang.

Then I decided to get brave and start using coloured pencil. Something that I had never really done before. Colour scares me, but I enjoyed it. I enjoyed using colour so much that I kept going, I started adding colour to everything and using colour to further develop textures, depth and detail.

I am really enjoying the development that I’m seeing and it makes me really proud. It’s so tricky to start practicing a skill that has been dormant for so long, but it has been worth it.
If you’re liking my style and want to see how you too can buy a little bit of it, head over to my shop and check out the cards I have for sale. My special offer is still going strong, so don’t forget to enter the code at the checkout.

* Personally, I believe copying is a good thing, especially when you’re starting out. It allows you to practice rather than be creative, which are two daunting things when you’re starting to draw again. I am not suggesting that you copy and sell your work or even claim it to be your own, I am saying that you should look to other people’s work, try out their moves on paper and develop it into your own. Never take credit for work and ideas that are not your own. It’s just not cool!