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Victory: Photography Project — 91

Beginning in January 2014, I started a weekly photography project with my muse, Victory!  I will continue to share this project on the blog this year!  My goal is to document all of Victory’s changes, while preserving fleeting moments and memories, while capturing moments of our everyday.

Last weekend, near Victory’s birthday, we took Victory to the pumpkin patch, an annual tradition, to pick out our pumpkins, which Doug will carve!  We all had a great time!  We still could only find one pumpkin patch located in Delaware, after looking in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, that would permit a furry family member to come along!  We had fun, Victory had fun, and the weather was just gorgeous!  After the pumpkin patch, we went to our favorite restaurant in Delaware, where furry family members are permitted on the patio — there were nine other furry family members on the patio, along with Victory, that evening!  A few images from our annual trip to the pumpkin patch are shown below.  You can also view images from our trip to the pumpkin patch last year, here.

Doug is carving our pumpkins again this year for Halloween so stay tuned!  Enjoy the photos below!

Happy Wednesday!













Victory: A Birthday Celebration — 5 years!

Today marks three years since we adopted our dear little Victory!  We decided to make October 12 Victory’s birthday — the day we went to Michigan and adopted our sweet fur girl.  (We also took the same approach with Biscuit’s birthday.)  Victory was likely one to two years old when we adopted her, per the Michigan Sheltie Rescue.

This year, for Victory’s birthday, we did a light pink and gold themed birthday!  (Last year, we did a pink themed birthday and the year before, we did rainbow themed birthday for Victory!)  We purchased some fun light pink and gold themed decorations, balloons, party hat, and new light pink sweater for Victory in honor of her birthday!  Victory also enjoyed some steak in lieu of birthday cake, which she gobbled down in no time flat!  Victory looked absolutely adorable on her birthday, as always, and she even smiled this year, shown below!  (She is always so cooperative with my ideas, and Doug blew up every single balloon!)  She had a fun birthday, a fun long weekend, and she enjoyed being over fed along with a trip to the Eastern Shore for crabs!  We are the lucky ones to share our lives with this wonderful, loyal, and loving being.

For Victory’s birthday, we gave her a new pink sweater and a new Orvis personalized canvas toy tote — for her ever growing collection of toys!  Victory also got a gift card from her Grandma and Grandpa in Michigan, which she will use to get some yummy treats!  We all had a great day together!  October is our favorite month, and Victory is looking forward to the pumpkin patch, carving a pumpkin, and sharing her Halloween costume!  (Hint — she is not going to be an animal this year!)

(All birthday decorations are from Oh Happy Day!)









Eight Years In

Dear Doug,

Happy eight-year anniversary!  I simply cannot believe another year has passed again.  I am not sure where the time goes.  So much has happened during this season.  It has been a season of great change for us, and I am fortunate to be on this path with you.  Much of this year has not been an easy; however, you have been right there with me, every step of the way, living in the present along with seeing where this path takes us.  I could not ask for a more supportive and loving  partner.  You are my best friend and my rock.  You are one of the kindest people I have ever met, who never fails to make me laugh.  Because of you, I am extremely fortunate to know true unconditional love and support.  This has been a really special month for us in so many ways.

I am so grateful and lucky to have you as my husband — you are my greatest gift.  Happy eight years!  Here’s to many, many more years together!

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”  —Lao Tzu




Just 60 Minutes a Day

The biggest hurdle preventing people from getting started on a project or dream is getting started.  Instead of focusing on all of the what ifs, being afraid of where to start, lacking the perfect idea, or being too busy, what if you simply decided to work 60 minutes per day on your project with no strings attached?  What if you are brave enough to simply start?

Ultimately, time is not something you find; it is something that you consciously make.  You can make great strides to creating a creative life by making small changes — simply set your alarm and wake up one hour earlier, reduce the amount of Netflix/television you are watching, and/or reduce your time on social media, for example.  Finally, let go of fear and perfectionism and be present in the moment.   These small changes can lead to a creative life with little sacrifice.

You can simply start by focusing on what you are curious about, while following your intuition.  We spend too much time being fearful of the small things that we never get around to doing anything about the really important things.  Taking action is the only way to make progress towards the things we desire.  You just have to keep taking the very next step that is in front of you, trusting that the one after that will become clear when you choose to step out in faith.

The world is waiting for you to share your special gifts!



Interview: Jessica Marie, Painter

Interview with Jessica Marie, Painter










Recently, I had the opportunity and pleasure of interviewing Jessica Marie, a full-time Minneapolis-based painter, who reached out recently.  Jessica creates wonderful custom paintings, and she has been creating paintings for the past twenty years and she paints in both a realistic and modern aesthetics.  I really like Jessica’s artist philosophy, which is discussed in more detail below.  She states, “If you work hard and are persistent with creating, inspiration will always come along with the process.  The more you work, the more inspiration you will have.”  Please visit Jessica Marie’s website to view more of her work, which is not only limited to animals.


KATHERINE CARVER: What were your beginnings as a painter and when did you realize it would become your chosen form of expression?

JESSICA MARIE: I’ve always had a strong interest in art since I was very young.  I enjoyed experimenting with a lot of different materials.  I started oil painting when I was 13-years-old.  I realized in high school that I wanted to go to art school to pursue a professional career with my art.


KATHERINE CARVER: Did you study art formally?

JESSICA MARIE: Yes, I attended Syracuse University in New York for Graduate Studies in painting, and I received a BFA in Painting from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in Minnesota.




KATHERINE CARVER: How do you describe your style?

JESSICA MARIE: For my dog portraits, I work in two different styles: My Modern, Expressive style features bright colors and texture that make a one-of-a-kind painting.  This is a loose and painterly style showing the actual brushstrokes on the canvas.  I use oil paints in many layers with small charcoal drawing elements giving it a very unique modern look.

My Realistic, Detailed style features natural light, color, and space that make a striking, unique painting.  This style has a lot of  blended layers, textured brushstrokes, and small details.  I use oil paints in a neutral color and gradually add layers of brighter color and detail that give it a one-of-a-kind realistic and painterly look. 

 I can also work in other styles upon request, from realistic to abstract.  I really enjoy the uniqueness of each style to create a custom painting that my art collector’s will love and cherish in their homes for years to come.


KATHERINE CARVER: Can you describe the time when you first realized that creating paintings was absolutely something that you had to do?

JESSICA MARIE:  I naturally gravitated to painting since I was a child.  I’ve always had a strong passion for creating things.  It took many years to develop my painting skills and personal styles.  I work full-time as a professional artist, and I can’t imagine doing anything else.  Art is my life’s passion, and I enjoy creating paintings that make people happy.




KATHERINE CARVER: What was the impetus that inspired you to begin painting animals?

JESSICA MARIE: I’m a huge animal lover.  I really enjoy capturing the uniqueness of an animal’s personality.  Each one is so different and special.  It’s wonderful to be able to express this through my art.  People love their pets, and a painting can capture the expression and personality in a way that a photograph isn’t able to.  It’s a great way to pay tribute to our beloved pets.


KATHERINE CARVER: How have your own dogs/animals influenced your artwork?

JESSICA MARIE: I grew up with five chow chow dogs, along with cats and hamsters.  I’m currently a proud pet parent of a beautiful 17-year-old Siamese cat that loves spending time in my art studio.  I’d love to also have a dog again, but at the moment my Siamese cat demands she has to be the one and only in the household!  I started creating drawings and paintings of my pets when I was young, and I still create artwork based on my cat.




KATHERINE CARVER: Where do you show/exhibit your work?

JESSICA MARIE: I exhibit my artwork locally in Minneapolis and nationally at various art galleries.  I currently have paintings on exhibit in New York, Kansas, and Florida.  I was just recently notified that I won the First Place Juror Award for an international exhibition at FSU Museum of Fine Arts in Florida.  I have an upcoming solo exhibition in Minneapolis in Spring 2017.


KATHERINE CARVER: What does “being creative,” mean to you?

JESSICA MARIE: Being creative is about exploring and discovering new ideas and techniques.  It’s about finding new ways to present your ideas and thoughts visually.  This leads to a newfound perspective of my art, life, and experiences.


KATHERINE CARVER: What is the most challenging aspect of being an artist?

JESSICA MARIE: I think the most challenging aspect as an artist is to keep yourself motivated and push forward with or without immediate inspiration.  If you work hard and are persistent with creating, inspiration will always come along with the process.  The more you work, the more inspiration you will have.




KATHERINE CARVER: What inspires you to keep going and what keeps you motivated?  

JESSICA MARIE: I really enjoy working on my art daily.  If I’m having difficulty with motivation, then I like to experiment with different materials and discover new ideas through the painting process.  There’s always something new to be discovered and it helps keep me motivated.


KATHERINE CARVER: What kind of patterns, rituals, and routines do you have while making your art?

JESSICA MARIE: I keep a to-do list of what I need to work on each day.  It includes prepping canvas, painting, varnishing and marketing work.  Sometimes I have multiple projects I’m working on, so it helps to keep everything organized and to meet my deadlines.  I enjoy listening to art podcasts and music to keep me energized while painting in the studio.


KATHERINE CARVER: What artists inspire your work?

JESSICA MARIE: Some artists that inspire my work are Seurat, Matisse, Modigliani, Klimt, de Kooning, Dorothea Tanning, and Alice Neel.




KATHERINE CARVER: What advice do you have for aspiring artists?

JESSICA MARIE: Practice.  Practice.  Practice.  Create a studio schedule and stick to it.  Don’t seek perfection.  Keep experimenting, exploring ideas and techniques.  You will eventually find your own voice and style.


KATHERINE CARVER: How can people view and purchase your art works?

JESSICA MARIE: You can find more info, photos, and videos of my Custom Pet Portraits on my website.

I can paint any animal and breed.  I have a variety of canvas sizes to choose from.  All I need are some of your favorite photos and your background preference.  I can also work from multiple photographs to combine multiple pets in one painting.  I’m happy to help you choose the photo that will work best and make suggestions for colors, compositions, and backgrounds to create a special one of a kind painting of your pet.  If you are interested in a custom painting or have any questions, please email me at


Below are a few videos of Jessica Marie’s work.


All images contained in this interview are courtesy of Jessica Marie.

You can read additional interviews here.

Around Here: September

Happy Fall!  It is officially fall, and we are not sure how this happened so quickly!  We are welcoming fall with open arms, one of our favorite seasons.  Below are some items that have occurred around here in September!

-continuing to work steadily on my long-term photography project — an image at a time.  I received some positive feedback earlier this month on the body of work completed thus far, which I am very pleased about!

-we celebrated the 12 year anniversary of our first date!

-we celebrated three years in our home that we built — we are not sure where the time has gone, but it has flown by ever too quickly!

-we are experiencing a lot of transition and change in this season.

-we saw Bruce Springsteen earlier this month in D.C.

-we took another trip to the Eastern Shore for crabs and shrimp with Victory!

-we took a trip to Delaware over Labor Day weekend and had a great time together!

-we received and hung Victory’s Audrey Hepburn inspired portrait, which we have titled, “Princess Victory,” which now hangs next to Biscuit’s painting.

-we finally got our rugs cleaned, and all of our “spring and summer cleaning” is almost completed — just a little delayed!

-enjoying evening walks together with Victory in her Hound About, especially since it is cooler outside!

-enjoying time on our decks together during the evenings, watching the sun set.

-opening the windows and letting the fresh, crisp air into our home!

-burning fall candles in our home and we also hung our fall door wreaths!

-getting ready for Victory’s birthday in a few weeks — this will be her third birthday celebration with us since her adoption!

-ordered and received Victory’s Halloween costume for this year — she is going to be adorable in her costume.  You can view last year’s costume here; 2014’s costume here; and 2013’s costume here!  We are excited to head back to the pumpkin patch with Victory!  (Victory is shown below from our visit last year to the pumpkin patch!)

-Doug has already begun crafting ideas for his pumpkin this year!

-started working on our this year’s Pawliday card!

-finished reading Present Over Perfect, a good read!

-began watching the first season of The Americans, a really good series — I know that we are a little late to the party!

-enjoying the second season of the Magic Lessons Podcast, with a lot of good content and lessons.

-still using my Fitbit and I’m hitting 10,000 steps per day most days.

-continuing to make incremental progress on our ever-growing to do list!

Happy Friday!


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Get Curious



Why should you get curious?  Well, the short answer is that curiosity makes life more interesting.  Curiosity also provides important information and clues in one’s life.  I have always been a curious person and I have always asked a lot of questions.  In fact, my curiosity has led me on an adventure with a project that I have been working on for nearly four years, which I am getting close to finishing!  Some of my best ideas have come from places where I was willing to get more curious.  Curiosity and creativity are inherently linked.  At the very least, your curiosity may surprise you.

Below are some of my favorite quotes by Elizabeth Gilbert concerning the pursuit of curiosity.

“The trick is to just follow your small moments of curiosity.  It doesn’t take a massive effort.  Just turn your head an inch.  Pause for an instant.  Respond to what has caught your attention.  Look into it a bit.  Is there something there for you?  A piece of information?”

“Passion is a tower of flame, but curiosity is a tiny tap on the shoulder — a little whisper in the ear that says, ‘Hey, that’s kind of interesting…'”

“I believe that curiosity is the secret.  Curiosity is the truth and the way of creative living.  Curiosity is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end.”

“It’s a clue.  It might seem like nothing, but its a clue.  Follow that clue.  Trust it.  See where curiosity will lead you next.  Then follow the next clue, and the next, and the next. . .Following that scavenger hunt of curiosity can lead you to amazing, unexpected places.”

“For me, a lifetime devoted to creativity is nothing but a scavenger hunt — where each successive clue is another tiny little hit of curiosity.  Pick each one up, unfold it, see where it leads you next.  Small steps.  Keep doing that, and I promise you: The curiosity will eventually lead you to the passion.”

If you are interested in learning more about where your curiosity may lead, you can check out this video and this podcast!

Happy Friday!

Singing Bowls

Have you heard of singing bowls?  My good friend introduced them to me this summer.  Singing bowls produce sounds that invoke relaxation, and it has been said that one’s energy can impact the loudness of the sound one can create with their singing bowl.  Singing bowls come in various shapes and sizes.  A sample of various small singing bowls are shown below.  For beginners, I have been told that it is easier to make the metal bowls “sing” versus starting with a ceramic bowl.  I started with this one, and I really like it.  It has also been said that meditating on the subtle sounds of the singing bowl tunes one into the universal sound within.  Happy practicing, if this is something that interests you!


singing bowls

Sashi is Back for a Third Time!

Sashi is back for a third time!  I initially wrote about the first book in the Sashi Series entitled, Sashi, the Scared Little Sheltie!here; and I also wrote about the second book, Sashi Adopts a Brother, a continuation on the Sashi Series, here.  The author, Linda Greiner, recently contacted me and sent me her third book with illustrator, Morgan Spicer, entitled, Sashi and the Puppy Mill Girl, a continuation in the Sashi Series, which is now available for purchase!  A portion of the sales are donated to help Shetland Sheepdogs in the New Jersey area.

As those who have been reading the blog know, we love shelties and we are strong proponents of dog rescue and dog fostering — and all of the books in the Sashi series speak to these important issues.  This newest book, in the Sashi Series, introduces the story of Cinnamon, puppy mill dog who becomes a foster dog — and you will have to read the book to find out the ending to Cinnamon’s story!  So if you are looking for a fun children’s book to teach about the positive implications of dog rescue and dog fostering, I highly recommend this book and the other books in the Sashi Series.  And, if you love shelties you will for sure love this book!  The illustrations are vivid and beautiful, which brings this true story to life.  (All of the books in the Sashi Series are based on true stories).

Below is an excerpt from the author about Sashi and the Puppy Mill Girl:

“Anna and her mother love fostering Shelties through Shetland Sheepdog Rescue.  By taking care of rescued dogs, they help the dogs become ready to find a forever home.  They’ve already adopted two Shelties of their own, Sashi and Buddy, and their newest foster is a shy girl named Cinnamon who’s been rescued from a puppy mill.  Neglected and frightened, Cinnamon has a tough time settling into her new home at first but with help from Sashi and Buddy, Cinnamon realizes she doesn’t have to be afraid.  Now loved and cared for, Cinnamon learns to be happy and playful again and soon finds her forever home.  Based on the true story of Cinnamon, this tale addresses the reality of puppy mills while keeping the story light, warm, and accessible to young readers.”







The above images are courtesy of Linda Greiner.

You can view a trailer of the book, Sahsi and the Puppy Mill Girl, here.


The Changing Seasons

“To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.”  —George Santayana

Labor Day weekend marks the beginning of a change of the seasons as summer comes to a close.  We could even feel the change coming in the air.  As such, we took full advantage of the nice weather this past long weekend doing some fun summer outings, including seeing a Bruce Springsteen concert in D.C. and taking Victory on multiple walks in her Hound About, which she loves!  We also took Victory to Harbor East for pizza at one of our favorite pizza spots; we took her to the Eastern Shore for crabs and shrimp; and we took her to Delaware!  We also spent some time at our pool prior to it closing for the summer where we were able to catch up on reading and much needed rest.

Just like the changes of seasons, our own seasons are constantly changing, too.  Life is filled with moments of happiness and long stretches of contemplation, and the key is to stay present through it all, even during the long stretches that sometimes feel long and difficult to endure.  We are currently adjusting to a new routine as I accepted a new position, a positive change for us.  However, poor little Victory’s schedule has been off kilter the past few weeks, but we are all getting acclimated to a new routine; and, thankfully, things will get more on track and closer to our ‘normal’ routine starting next week.

We are looking forward to the fall and welcome the change of season.  We look forward to celebrating our two anniversaries (the anniversary of our first date and our wedding anniversary); celebrating Victory’s birthday; taking trips to the pumpkin patch and orchard; celebrating Halloween; enjoying Doug carving his yearly pumpkin; lighting fall scented candles; and welcoming cooler temperatures, to name a few!

Happy Wednesday!


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