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St. Valentine’s Day Massacre

Tulips photo by Chandler O'Leary

Inside the house we have these this morning…

Photo by Chandler O'Leary

…but Valentine’s Day looks a little different in the yard. Spring is already on its way here, so we have to seize the moment and get going on the massive pile of landscaping projects we have planned for the year.

Photo by Chandler O'Leary

So we’re spending our romantic weekend with chainsaws and tree stumps. Hope your Valentine’s Day is a special one, too—whether you stick to tradition or not!

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Secret spring

Camellia photo by Chandler O'Leary

It’s been a tough couple of weeks around here, and it’s the time of year when the Northwest is shrouded in a dark silver cloud most days. But just out my studio window is an early-blooming camellia, giving me a pop of spring color just when I need it most.

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A blank page

Holiday cards by Chandler O'Leary

A lot of things had to fall by the wayside in the past few months (including this blog!), while some major projects ruled my life. The big deadlines still hold sway for now, but I’ve started to catch up in other ways. The holidays are done and dusted, the end-of-year to-do-lists are crossed off (mostly), and this huge stack of greetings is in the mail. Here’s to turning the page, and writing (and drawing!) the next chapter.

Happy New Year!

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…and to all a good night

Christmas photo by Chandler O'Leary

Tacoma photo by Chandler O'LearyChristmas photo by Chandler O'LearyTacoma photo by Chandler O'LearyChristmas photo by Chandler O'LearyChristmas photo by Chandler O'LearyChristmas photo by Chandler O'Leary

Shooting grainy on-the-fly night photos doesn’t always yield the best results, but it’s done a great job of documenting this year’s Season of Light. I hope yours is as warm and bright as ours has been, and that you are surrounded by joy while the sun makes its way back to us.

Good Yule, and Merry Christmas.

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The door’s open

Studio Tour photo and New York state illustration by Chandler O'Leary

It’s hard to believe this much time has gone by already, but Tacoma Arts Month is here again, and that means that Studio Tour is this weekend! I’m all settled into my new space (don’t go to the old house by mistake!)—won’t you help me christen it? I’m planning on doing a big blog reveal of the new studio soon, but I thought I’d let local folks be the first to see it (and the first to meet my ORANGE CHAIR, about which I am ridiculously excited).

As usual, I’ll be open both days. You’ll be able to make your own die-cut greeting card, stamp your Studio Tour Passport (that’s a new feature this year, with prize drawings for folks who visit at least 8 studios!), and of course shop for original artwork and stationery. Our street is under construction at the moment, but don’t let that stop you—there’s plenty of parking just up the hill, and the sidewalk is wide open and pedestrian-friendly. Here’s the info:

14th Annual Tacoma Studio Tours
Saturday and Sunday, October 17 and 18, 2015
11 am to 5 pm, free!
(My studio is #12 on the tour)
More info, locations and maps available here

See you this weekend!

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Seven for seven

Orcas Island sketch by Chandler O'Leary

I can hardly believe it, but I’ve now lived in the Pacific Northwest for seven years.

Mt. Rainier sketch by Chandler O'Leary

In that time I’ve done my very best to see as much of the region as possible, and document it all in my sketchbook.

Yakima apples sketch by Chandler O'Leary

So in honor of seven years, here are seven sketchbook drawings—

Seattle houseboat sketch by Chandler O'Leary

—presented in no particular order—

Columbia River sketch by Chandler O'Leary

—of some of my very favorte places

Panama Hotel sketch by Chandler O'Leary

and moments

Tacoma sketch by Chandler O'Leary

in the place I now call home.

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Berry jamboree

Berries photo by Chandler O'Leary

Because we’re having a record-hot summer this year, everything is coming into season early. And it’s all ripening at once, which made us look at the shelf of canning jars in panic.

Home canning photo by Chandler O'Leary

But there was nothing for it but to dive in and start filling jars (and jars and jars).

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Midsummer sights

Rainier cherries photo by Chandler O'Leary

For the first time in anybody’s memory around here, the height of the season has actually arrived by the time the official solstice declared it “summer.” And as if on cue, it’s summer around our house, too.

Ourdoor brick grill photo by Chandler O'Leary

So it seemed fitting to take a break from the more pressing repairs on our new house and focus on rehabilitating the vintage 1950s brick grill in the back yard. The Tailor’s parents were here over the solstice, and he and his dad got the grill back into shipshape—and then re-christened it with some seriously good kabobs over the charcoal from some fragrant cedar logs.

Deer photo by Chandler O'Leary

And we’re not the only ones celebrating summer at our house: this gal has been a regular visitor all month (she’s helping us prune back our shrubs…and pilfering a few apples as payment). When we stepped out back to hang some laundry outdoors, though, we were startled to find her napping in the shade back there. She watched us put the sheets up on the line, and waited patiently for me to grab my camera.

I suspect she’ll demand some more apples from us pushovers after this—ah, well. We can put up garden fences next year—and buy our apples for this year’s canning.

Happy summer!

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Apple blossom time

Apple blossom photo by Chandler O'Leary

I took this photo of one of our apple trees a couple of weeks ago, when the blossoms were at their peak.

Apple blossom photo by Chandler O'Leary

Now the tree just has a couple of blooms still hanging on—

Apple blossom and bird photo by Chandler O'Leary

—but if you look closely, it has other surprises in store.

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In the pink

Rhododendron photo by Chandler O'Leary

The rhododendroon is the state flower of Washington, so it’s not like I’m not used to seeing them around town. But this pink monster, which practically dwarfs our neighbor’s house, is something else again.

Spring was never my favorite season before we moved to the Northwest (I’m more of an autumn gal in general), but what we lack here compared to the spectacular fall foliage of the East, we more than make up for with our spring color. I’m a convert—and reveling in all this gorgeous pink.