Thursday, December 30, 2010

Way, Way, Pathetically Behind

I know, I know....I said I would post my entries to the Sketchbook Project here on the blog as I did them. What I have been doing instead, is spending every spare minute WORKING ON said entries, oh and I spent a little time this month preparing for that holiday, ya know, Christmas. So, what I have learned in the last two months is this:
1. I ALWAYS "bite off more than I can chew." I love analogies that have to do with food.
2. Planning is everything. "Failing to plan is planning to fail."
3. Focusing is a learned behavior that requires practice.
4. When estimating the amount of time a project will take, decide how long you THINK it will take then double it.
5. I really, really love to draw and hope to get better at it with time.

Now, back to the drawing table. Coffee anyone?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sketchbook Project - Pages 1 & 3

Today I posted the first two finished pages from my sketchbook. Here they are as promised. The first page is a dedication to my best friend Laurie who passed away three years ago. Unfortunately, she smoked for a lot of years and Cancer took her at 49.

The next page is an homage to two of my favorite things...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Today was a good day. With little ceremony, my sketchbook finally arrived for The Sketchbook Project. I have been waiting since the end of September. After one (almost two) email(s) to Arthouse, one interesting conversation with the mail carrier who delivers to my office building ("there is no box for the 16th floor, if mail is addressed to a suite on the 16th floor it gets "returned to sender") WHAT, REALLY??

So anyway, it came and I'm happy. I have been preparing reference photos for some of the drawings I am planning to include, laying out the page order and writing the text that will accompany some of my entries. This has been an exercise in planning, focusing, purging and containing my excitement. I cannot wait to put pencil to paper and loose myself in the highlights and shadows.

But for now, a treat...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

He Dreams of the Open Road

Red Green likes to explore his environment...We came out to the garage to feed him the other night and there he was perched on the handlebars of Pat's bike. This doesn't look like a very comfortable place to hang out but what do I know.

Friday, October 22, 2010

I'm Not Gone

Or was that "I'm Still Here." Okay, forgive me for using a terrible Joaquin Phoenix publicity stunt to open a post. I just wanted to let you know that I haven't flown the coop. I've just been pre-occupied with numerous distractions. Mostly, I've been waiting on my sketchbook so I can participate in The Sketchbook Project . For some reason, the mailman can't seem to find me because I still don't have it...Bummed.

On a completely unrelated note, I have had a wicked sweet tooth lately. What is up with that?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Mooshoo, Personality to Spare

Remember this photo? I posted this several weeks back after I submitted it for one of The Pioneer Woman's photo assignments, the theme was "funny." Well, to my utter surprise, it was chosen for one the groups from which the winner and runners-up are later chosen. I have submitted photos for many of her assignments and never been chosen, so this was pretty cool. It wouldn't be that big a deal except that thousands of people belong to her Flickr group and submit to these assignments and some incredible talent competes. So, yeah, it's cool!

Anyway, I decided to enter this same photo in The First Annual Dandiest Dog & Cutest Cat Photo Contest being put on by The Noble Beast here in Phoenix and, again, to my utter surprise, it won for the "Cutest Cat." Yes, it kinda made my day! And the $75 gift certificate is pretty great too!

Now if you are a serious dog or cat owner, you really must check out this adorable shop. It is located in the heart of Central Phoenix and they carry many very cool one of a kind pet accessories. They also carry a nice selection of organic/natural pet foods, treats, supplements and grooming supplies. The owners Alison and Marsha seem knowledgeable about the products they sell and seem to genuinely love serving the pet community.

Noble Beast
1005 E. Camelback Rd.
Phoenix, AZ 85014

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Sketchbook Project

On Monday I signed up to participate in The Sketchbook Project. I am super psyched to do this, mostly because over the last few years I have become fascinated with the whole Moleskine movement and have started trying to keep an ongoing sketch journal. I am excited to be challenging myself with a theme and a time frame. I am out of my comfort zone with this gang, but I am up for it. I am also looking forward to seeing as many of the other participants sketchbooks as I can. Check out the project at and join in! You can view other peoples pages at

I will (eventually) post all of my sketchbook entrys on my Sketchbook Project page in sequence so you can see them all together and follow the theme. My chosen theme is "Coffee and Cigarettes" I will also post my pages on my home page as I do them. I can't wait to get started, just waitin on my book to come...

Friday, September 17, 2010

60-Second Review: The Coffee Shop

Recently I had some time on my hands so I made the journey out to Gilbert to visit The Coffee Shop at Agritopia. In a nut-shell, it was a treat. This cute little cafe style restaurant is cozy and warm. The high ceilings and large windows make this somewhat small space seem much bigger. It was a great place to just hang out and have some breakfast. The food was good and the service was very prompt and friendly. If you know me, you know how much I hate getting bad service in a restaurant (waitress in a former life). Eating breakfast, however, was just a rouse to achieve my real goal.

Oh the things we do for love...of CUPCAKES that is. What I really went there for were the cupcakes. I had heard that the owners of The Coffee Shop had recently won an episode of "Cupcake Wars" (Food Network) with their "Coffee & Cigarettes" cupcakes and I had to see what all the fuss was about.

Choosing three tasty looking treats to take home and savor, I paid my bill and headed for the car. It then dawned on me that these delicate cakes might not fair so well on the long trip home. You see, this is Arizona and it was early September & still obscenely hot. 108 degrees Farenheit hot. And, did I mention that the AC in my car had recently quit working and I lived 30 miles away? I would just take the freeway all the way home and it would be fine, right? Unfortunately, I made one fatal mistake. I needed to make one quick stop on my way home. I would just run in and grab what I needed and hope the cupcakes would be okay for a few minutes. No such luck, of course the line at the register was halfway around the store. The photo tells the whole story. These cupcakes suffered heat stroke! By the time I DID get home I was too hot to even enjoy the once fine specimens. I ended up only eating half of one cupcake! Maybe I will try them again when it cools off a bit...

The Coffee Shop
3000 E Ray Rd
Gilbert Arizona

(NW Corner of Higley & Ray)

Thumbs Up:
Clean, bright and comfortable.
Friendly service, good food.
The pastry case! I wanted one
of everything!
The owners support worthy causes.

Thumbs Down:
A very long drive from Central Phoenix.
The day I was there, not one
variety of Chocolate cupcake in the case. Wait, what, no chocolate?!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

30-Second Observation #1

At least 9 out of 10 times I sit outside to eat my lunch the wind starts blowing and I get hair in my mouth as I take a bite of food. Yup, you read it here first...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Dream House Becomes a Reality

The spiral staircase under construction, don't mind the mess...
The Leo household is all "abuzz" because the project is almost completed. Those of you that have been hearing about "Jessica's Dream House" for YEARS now, will soon be able to see pictures. Just a few detail items to finish and the girl can move in! Then on to the interior design...I think she is planning an "eclectic" design mix, stay tuned for those details. I'm excited because after purchasing a few kitchen pieces, I AM DONE SPENDING MONEY!!! Look for photo updates to the Dream House Project page coming soon.

Monday, July 26, 2010


This is what happened when I decided to shoot some "water" themed photos at midnight on a Sunday. I actually kind of like the outcome but that could be irrational, overly tired thinking taking over. Not sure. If this post is gone tomorrow you will know what the conclusion was.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Shadow Shot Mooshoo

The animals really appreciate the tile floor this time of year. It is the coolest place to be! If I could get away with it, I would be lying the floor as well... On a side note, Mooshoo seems much calmer now that she has been "fixed." I for one, am glad because the little she-devil attacked me and scratched the heck out of my legs the night before her surgery.


Monsoon season is upon us here in the Southwest. Although we have yet to see any awesome storms in our neighborhood, we remain hopeful. I did however, capture a lovely shot of the moon and the clouds the other night. Anything to take my mind off of the heat....

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Yes, I Do Realize It's July

Haven't posted since, well, has been very "full" lately. Creating a banner for this month is on my to- do list, right after cleaning the ENTIRE house, finishing painting the Dreamhouse bathroom, processing several batches of new photos and planning my husbands upcoming trip to Iowa. Did I mention purchasing and mailing Josh & Brittny's wedding gift (sorry kids, we're not going to make it to the wedding), purchasing and mailing Josh's graduation gift (yes, I know he graduated two months ago) and a dozen other tasks that no one else in the house will do that I can't think of at the moment.

Our four day weekend to California seems like a distant memory and it was only a week ago. Here is one of my shots of some of the Woolley's beautiful flowers.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Shadow Shot Bird of Paradise

I just can't get enough of the beautiful Bird of Paradise flowers down the street from my house. Here they are with their shadows. Check out lots of cool "shadow shots" over at Hey Harriet every Sunday there is a new batch. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Forgive Me

Looking at this sweet face makes me feel a bit guilty. I feel guilty partly because this time I have not become emotionally involved. I also feel guilty because in a few days I will probably be sitting at the Humane Society with all of the other people, who for many unknown reasons, are unable or unwilling to care for animals that are in their possession. Waiting to turn over three kittens is what I will be doing.

I recently went to the same shelter to make a donation for my nieces birthday (she's nine and that is what she wanted!). While I was waiting my turn, I watched a family who had brought in a dog that they were giving up or putting down (I'm not sure which) and it was obvious watching them that they were pretty torn up. They took turns holding the dog and taking pictures of him with the family. It was absolutely heartbreaking. I didn't want to go back there, ever. One last time... Please don't do what I did. I didn't get my daughters cat fixed because it was her cat, her responsibility. I can only hope these babies get adopted.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Weighty Matter

I have been thinking lately about the commitments we make in life and how the ideas we choose to defend can define us. If I truly believe in something I have to be willing to go all the way. "Half measures availed us nothing."

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Mom Cat

This is my daughters cat MooShoo. Mooshoo is an indoor cat. Mooshoo was not "fixed." MooShoo got out. MooShoo had three kittens....BAD MooShoo! Does anyone know how soon after giving birth a female cat can be spayed??? I know, you are thinking, BAD cat owners...well this is not my cat and I shouldn't have to pay for this, right??? Oh nevermind.

These kittens need homes, they are currently about five weeks old. Please, please, please.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Birds on a Wire & I'm on the Fence

I was out back messing around with the telephoto lens the other day and I snapped this bird on the powerlines. I played around with the processing and came up with this nice muted version of the shot. I liked it because it wasn't the typical blue sky/green tree scenario. Ya know what I mean.... Well then I posted it on Flickr to one of the groups I belong to. Right away someone said "it's too dark."
So I am soliciting your opinions, my friends. I'm curious to know what is appealing to the masses. I will still shoot what I like the way I like it, but I am interested in what you like and why. So if you have a moment, leave a comment on this post. Thanks all!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Mercury Man

The Mercury Man shows up in the darndest he is at the park. I think some kids thought he was a Frisbee. I got to him in time and he didn't end up in the air or in a dogs mouth... I'm sure he was grateful, but he doesn't talk much.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Spring Into Summer

I can always tell when summer is around the corner. People start getting testy. Mind you, it is not even REALLY hot yet!

In many places, summer is a season that people look forward to. Here in Phoenix we dread the summer because it gets so darn hot that you simply cannot enjoy anything that involves leaving the air conditioning. Leaving the house is like walking into a blast furnace for most of July and August. Why do we stay if it is that bad you might ask? Well, probably because the heat has fried our brains and we don't have any common sense left.

So here is one last toast to springtime and the cool night breeze that will soon be a distant memory....

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Sad and Splendid Day

Yesterday would have been my mothers 77th birthday. I thought about all of the things I didn't get to share with her over the years since she's been gone and I missed her. One year ago today, my daughters friend Colin died from a heroin overdose. I thought about all of the things his family won't get to share with him and I was sad.

Then I thought about how ridiculously fortunate and blessed I am. I have a wonderful and interesting family. I have a job. I have good health and the use of all my faculties. My bills are paid and if I wanted to, I could buy a new pair of shoes. I have peace.

Just about this time, I decided to take a break from cleaning and go outside. The wind was blowing the trees around like crazy, there were beautiful clouds in a VERY blue sky and the sunlight had a quality that was almost magical. At that moment, I realized, that everything was exactly the way it was supposed to be.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

My Vision

My vision doesn't always make sense to other people. Sometimes I forget that it doesn't have to.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ridin the Rails

The Lightrail(s) that is... For some crazy reason I decided to stand in the middle of Central Ave. (again) and take pictures of more buildings and cars. I don't know, maybe it's a sickness. Anyway, as I was pursuing this goal I got a nice shot of the Lightrail coming down the track toward me. I know some folks will consider this shot "busy", but I like all the stuff going on in the background. Feel free to weigh in...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

God is Laughing

The other day I was out walking and I came across these weeds with the sweetest little orange flowers. I thought the flowers would make lovely pictures so I went back later with my camera. Isn't it funny how we often take credit for things, I was going to make some pictures... like I had some part in creating the subjects in the first place. The thing was, that when I went back, the flowers were not open and I was dissapointed that I would not get the shots I was hoping for. Since I was already there I went ahead and took some photos and was pleasantly surprised with this. Today I am grateful for all of the beauty that is in my world, for a God who reminds me who is really in charge and for the simple gifts he gives me every day. 

Saturday, April 17, 2010

In Honor of Bike Week

Arizona Bike Week began on Thursday. While for many folks that means absolutely nothing, for a wide range of motorcycle enthusiasts, it is an event that is anticipated all year. As far as I can tell it is a great excuse to get out and enjoy the fantastic weather, feel the wind in your hair (and an occasional bug in your teeth) and just ride!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Shadow Shot Swing

It is Sunday. I should be doing my taxes (yes, yes, I know, only four days left). But instead I am sitting in the sunshine finding distractions everywhere I turn. Since it is Sunday, naturally I thought of Hey Harriet and Shadow Shot Sunday. So here is my contribution for the week.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Super Awesome Cactus Garden

Once again I found a little treasure while I was out walking the dog. This wonderful explosion of ____ Cactus (I'm going to look this beauty up and give you the proper name, bear with me) was bursting with color just before sundown. Fortunately for me it was located at the front of the yard it was in and I didn't have to trespass. However, the neighbors probably thought I was a nut down on my hands and knees on the sidewalk snapping away. Chihuahua in tow, looking on nonchalantly...

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Look for Something Good

Annual antique motorcycle swapmeet....wouldn't necessarily be my first choice of things to do on a Sunday morning but what the heck, right. Pat waits all year for this, how could I say no. Not a lot of photo opps, mostly folks selling parts. An interesting assortment...

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Still Life w/Flowers

My green vase collection, fresh flowers, my mother's photo at two years old, the glass egg, the green speckled shell and Pat's crazy face sculpture. These are a few of my favorite things!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


On Saturday Jess's friend Karen was over and they decided they wanted me to take some photos of them. So we took a walk and snapped some impromptu portraits. Future supermodels!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Flying Through the Air!

When I was a kid, the swings were my favorite thing to play on at the playground. Something about the feeling of flying through the air was exilarating. I have never outgrown that love of flying through the air on a swing. Whoever came up with this carnival ride is my hero... I only wish I were up there with them!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Petting Zoo

These little critters are just itching to get their fill of whatever is in your cup, whether it is intended for them or not. Fun at the petting zoo!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Another Prickly Day

Walking the dog today I came across some interesting plants. The dog wasn't nearly as fascinated as I was. She had pee-mails to read...

Saturday, March 13, 2010

That's Right, It's My Birthday

Yes, this is shameless self promotion. Yesterday was my husbands birthday and tomorrow is mine. Everyone should feel special on their birthday. Bring on the cake!

Headin Out #2

Time to take the party on the road...headin out after a day of fun at Love Cycles.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Long Ride Home

This was the view out of my window driving through the California desert a few weeks ago. We took a weekend jaunt to visit family in SoCal. A great time was had by all....

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Cherry Blossoms

It never ceases to amaze me how Gods most magnificent creations are small and easily overlooked.
The quiet beauty of this blossom is but one example of this fact.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Late Again

Tomorrow is my niece Laurens birthday and as usual I didn't remember until it was too late to get her card in the mail. Sorry Lauren. You know I'm good for it though, right? Seriously, the check IS in the mail...

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Shadow Shot Awning

Always looking for those fun shadow shots. I like the way the stark angles of the building contrast with the organic shape of the palm tree shadow. Check out this shot and more shadow shots over at Hey Harriett. This one will be there next Sunday, but she has new ones posted every week.

Molly Idle Prismacolor Workshop

Yesterday I participated in a Prismacolor workshop with Molly Idle of Idle Illustration. She is a lovely person and a fantastic illustrator. I don't know her entire bio, but apparently she has been an author/illustrator of childrens books for some time now and has a background in animation. She has a number of titles out, some of them sadly are now out of print. If you have children, you must check out her website and go and find her books in your local book store. I intend to pick a few of them up for the future (you know, WAY DOWN THE ROAD, when I'm a grandma) with munchkins to read bedtime stories to. Anyway, the workshop was good. I learned some new techniques for working with colored pencils, met some fellow Prismacolor enthusiasts and also saw some cool gear. One of the other folks had this great pencil case which she purchased from Dick Blick Art Materials. More on that later...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Smile for the Camera

Our theme this week seems to be Dog portraits. The first one (see last post) was purely coincidental. Tica was looking very cute laying on the bed in our guest quarters so I snapped her picture. Then she was playing with Pat while he was trying to read and on it went. THEN...I logged on to The Pioneer Woman website and, low & behold, the new Photography assignment was "Dog Portraits." To be honest, although I have taken LOTS of pictures of my dog, not to many would make it through a serious critique. So I have decided to make a more concerted effort to work on this subject. Maybe soon I will work up my nerve and take pictures of PEOPLE!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Change of Scenery

This past weekend Pat and I went to California to see his sis and her husband. It was nice to have a little change of scenery and spend time with the Woolleys. The princess found a spot to call her own.