Surfer’s Christmas – RI Christmas Card Series

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I think this image is one of my faves.  There’s just something nostalgic about it.  Who wouldn’t want to go Christmas tree shopping in an old vehicle?  And what surfer wouldn’t want a vintage woody to strap their board to?

Narragansett, RI is famous for its seawall.  It wraps around 3.5 miles of breathtaking Atlantic coastline. It’s where us locals go to catch our first whiff of spring and where every tourist HAS TO take their selfie.

So, without great detail, my image hints at the seawall.  I have a friend who grew up in Newport, RI and said the card reminded her of the seawall there which is great.  It’s a universal nod to our entire region.

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I’m reminded of the phrase “Salt in my Veins”.  I live that.  I love that. I have traveled to many regions and encountered many seas, but only in New England do I inhale this distinct smell of rotting seaweed, fish and salt.  It is so pungent and so strong.  I’ve not smelled it in the south, nor the west, nor any countries abroad. It is a North Atlantic smell.

It’s what brings me to the seawall.

It’s how I know I’m home.





Holiday Herring Gulls – RI Christmas Card Series

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This might sound weird, but I am pretty sure I could devote the rest of my life to painting seagulls and never tire.  For one thing, they are fascinating and for another, they are hilarious.  I think of them as the con-artists of the bird world.



Funny thing.  My whole life I thought the male seagulls were white and the female seagulls were brownish-gray.  Guess what? I was wrong!  Brownish-gray seagulls are juveniles. They grow into their white feathers when they reach adulthood. Good thing I figured this out before I began illustrating ;)

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There’s nothing like a good peck under the mistle toe ;)

Santas Lobstas – RI Christmas Card Series

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They way I brainstorm on card concepts is to pick a theme and then write down the hundred things that come to mind.  From there I pick six.  Anyways, while I was brainstorming my family was sitting in the kitchen. I yelled out “Quick, what comes to mind when you hear Christmas in Rhode Island?” I got all sorts of blurts, but the funniest one was the exchange between my husband and son.  They both looked at me and said “Forget a sleigh of reindeer, we want Lobsters!”


Seriously guys?  Yes.

I guess not everyone has Lobster boats miles from their home.  It’s a pretty unique and beautiful thing.  Not to mention tasty if your into seafood!

Also nearby, is the Narragansett Light house.


Put them together and what do you get?

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Christmas in Rhode Island.

A RI Red in a Quohog Tree – RI Christmas Card Series

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Have you heard of a Quohog?

It’s pronounce ko-hog.  It’s a Native American word for clams.  When the English settlers came to America this was what they were taught and in our region, it has stuck.  A quohog is a quohog.

Now can you guess what Rhode Island’s state bird is?

Yep. You guessed it. A chicken.  The Rhode Island Red.


Rhode Islanduhs love their chickens!

Don’t even ask what I was thinking, but as the radio was playing the 12 days of Christmas, I kinda got this image in my head… and the rest is history.

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Yeah, guess you kind of have to be local ;)

Gansett Gingerbread Towers – RI Christmas Card Series

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Where I live, there is a famous Victorian era building called The Narragansett Towers.


It’s right along one of our prettiest beaches so every Rhode Islander passes along its way at least once each summer.

I thought it would be fun to convert our landmark into a gingerbread house. If only we could eat it!


I’m wondering your thoughts on a card with a black background.  Is it too menacing for the Christmas holiday?  I keep flip-flopping on which to print; black, white or go back to the drawing board.      ….hmm….. choices….

For Santa – RI Christmas Card Series

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I’ve had a lot of fun designing Christmas cards that are very unique to where I live.  They call Rhode Island “The Quirky State” and this is for so many reasons…

Here is a link to favorite foods, locations and traditions of Rhode Island: 48 Cool, Hidden, and Unusual Things to Do in Rhode Island This way, you will be able to understand why people might find my cards funny.

Some local faves are coffee milk and famous Allies Donuts.  So here I have offered them up for Santa instead of those regular old cookies and milk.

In the next few days I will send images of each card in the series. I am also playing with different editing software to try to decide what I want the final cards to look like… Luckily I have plenty of time.  I won’t be offering these until next year :)


              I hope you are all enjoying the things that make your region special.

Tis’ the Season!

What to get the teacher who has everything?


A hollowed out coconut! …but of course!

Ok. so why the coconuts?

Well, sometimes you have it easy. Let’s say for instance, my son who has two female teachers who love my pottery and love gardening…



IMG_1613I sent them my pottery frogs filled with flowers and had my son write a thank you on some of my bird note cards.

By the time I was done, I wanted to keep them for myself!  Somehow I only have half-dead flowers on my counter that my kids picked me from the yard two weeks ago…bugs and all!…sigh.

Now the problem arises when you have a daughter with two male teachers… as sexist as it is, flowers just didn’t seem fittin’.

The men teachers teach flag football, one is a cyclist and the other a future cop.

Well there’s always the mug of Hershey’s kisses…something tells me they have a few mugs… someone told me a case of beer, which I think would be great, but what message does it send?  There’s always a red apple…hmm, too cliché.

That’s when I thought coconuts!  I saw them at a thrift shop and thought “something tells me my kids teachers may not have pirate coconuts!  I put some gift cards inside and sent them on their way.  My tweenie daughter was mortified!  “Oh my gosh mom, they are so ugly!! You can’t make me bring these in!!!”  I’ve been telling my daughter from a very early age, being our daughter means you’ll be embarrassed for life!  I thought she’d made her peace with it, but apparently I can still get to her! hee hee hee.

So she begrudgingly brought them in for the last day of school and let me tell you, they were a hit!  Her teacher is leaving it in the classroom as a class mascot and all the kids got a good laugh out of it.  My daughter came home smiling.

You see, sometimes you can have a little fun with a token gift of affection… well, except for those times when they go horribly wrong! ;)

DAY # 342 – A Letter to My Husband on his 39th



To my husband the day after his 39th birthday:

I met my husband in a political propaganda class three months before college graduation.  I can write a couple of pages about our meeting, but simply put.  Three months until we were out in the world.  My husband will tell you he didn’t want to get involved, seeing as how he was graduating, I will tell you, he never had a chance!

17 years later, the reasons I fell in love with him then still hold true.  He is the most caring individual I have ever met.

Now for my story.

3 months before graduation I had been dating a bona-fide rock star – at least he thought he was.  Two months before that, he had taken off for Costa Rica and not even cared enough to tell me.  What can I say, I was young.  Rock band. Drama. Boy friend took off to Costa Rica.  Makes for a great song…don’t it?

About the time I met my future husband, the old rock star resurfaced.  Apparently, after soul-searching on a tropical coast for a few months, he had realized I may have been worth fighting for.  I now had two love interests.

I’ll tell you how I picked the “right guy” for me.  Around this same time, I was getting my wisdom teeth out. You know, I had to take advantage of my wonderful healthcare package before I graduated and became unemployed (pre-Obama Care where you really couldn’t afford a health plan out of college!)

I went home for a few days to recover.  Mr. Rock Star lived by my hometown.  He stopped by to tell me how much I looked like a swollen chipmunk.  From what I recall, that was about what I took with me from that conversation; a swollen chipmunk.  I went back to college and hung out with my roommate pretty much waiting for the swelling to go down, when this guy I barely knew stopped by my room.  He came by to load my dorm fridge.  He had yogurt, ice pops and what ever else he could come up with to make me feel better.

From that moment on, I knew the answer.  This was someone who cared for people. Who cared about people.  This person was special.

This rest is history.  Something in my innate animal brain told me to go after him.  To change his mind. To make him realize that even if he was graduating in three months, that was ok, I could go with.

Somehow amongst all the youth drama I did it.  I got him to marry me. I thank my soul for making the right decision.

This silly little painting depicts are life after that.  We backpacked Europe, got engaged on the Charles Bridge in Prague over pizza, we’ve owned two homes, two cats and had two babies.  We have supported each other in one of the most important aspects of our lives – making sure we both do what we love for a living.  Watching my husbands computer business grow has been like watching our first baby grow.  It’s now a beautiful child with a life of its own.

My husband has always liked fish motifs. They are all over the house. At this point, we all give him things that have fish on them because they remind us of him. He may not even like fish motifs anymore for all we know, but it must be nice to know everyone thinks of you when they associate you with that thing.  So I added the fish motif!

I had no idea what to write in the bubbles above the fish.  It was close to midnight last night when I created this and with what little creative juice I had left, I came up with this:

“Want to get together for eternity?” is a statement.  Being with my husband for 17 years is the longest I have ever done anything.  I have had no job, no car, no dwelling, no locale, no diet, no sweater…nothing that has lasted longer than 17 years.  For a person with a very short attention span, that’s a big deal.  Gosh if we’ve done almost twenty, could we do a lifetime?  It just seems crazy. Crazy cool.

“See you at the finish line” is what I started saying after we had kids.  For the past decade it’s like these wild electrons keep spinning around our nucleus.  Often now, there are days where I feel like I am waving from across the room but never quite make it over to say hi.  On really crazy days when we have more to do than we can handle I yell over to him “see you at the finish line” meaning we may not be able to be together at this moment, but if we have a common place to meet up later, we’ll meet up then.  The joke is that this might be retirement, old age, death or even another lifetime!  That’s how it feels some days. It’s the best way I can come up with to say “Keep running the marathon and if we both keep running the race, if we both support each other, we just might meet up at the end.”

So that’s my sappy story.

I often think my husband must have been a real wicked SOB in his past life to be paying his penance with a lifetime of me.  I’m the lucky one in this scenario and I’m eternally grateful for it.

Happy Birthday Big Lug.  Yesterday was a small marathon in itself.  There was no surprise party, parade or bandstand.  Instead there was grandparents, children and more theatre performances.  Amongst the chaos, there was a quite sweet man turning 39 surrounded by the electrons he calls his family.

I hope to meet him at the finish line.

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I just finished today’s painting and I have 4 minutes until midnight!

I wasn’t home all day and started this painting around 9:30 this evening.

Today was my husband’s birthday and this 11×14 gouache painting is a tribute to him.

Unfortunately, I am drop dead tired.  I would love to explain all the hidden meanings throughout the drawing but am afraid I will be absolutely incoherent if I go any further.

With that said, I will attach an amendment to this post tomorrow.

I need some zzz’s

See you in the a.m.

Join me on Facebook:  Be Creative Mary




Today the Walsh Clan was positively elfie.

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We got up bright and early and started working on our Christmas cards.

At 9am we enjoyed some breakfast and then all gathered in the living room to watch our all time favorite Christmas movie, “The Muppet Christmas Carol.”  It just wouldn’t be the holiday without it.  We sang our hearts out, laughed a lot and finished decorating our Christmas tree.  By the time we were done, there wasn’t a square inch of tree exposed.  We covered every inch!

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My daughter had two different show times today for “The Dickens’ Christmas Carol” play that she is performing in – 2 and 8pm. This left us juggling most of the afternoon and evening.

Let’s just say 10pm was when I finally got to return to our “creative venture” of the day.

I’m pretty sure I just glued and trimmed over 50 Christmas cards. I’m pooped!

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Earlier today I bought a 50 pack of recycled cardstock and envelopes, 5×7″.

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My daughter’s cards are the red ones.  They win the prize for most fun, most colorful and most graphic punch.  I should have taken a lesson out of her book!

My son’s cards are the soft blue and copper cards.  They have a mystical tranquil feeling.  Sort of like the strange barometric pressure we encounter right before it snows.

My cards are a hodge-podge of styles.  I decorated the cards here and there throughout the day.  I wish I hadn’t felt so rushed.

All said, there are some sweet cards among the pile.  I love reinforcing the notion of handmade gifts with my kids.  In a world filled with mass-production and low quality, it is great to emphasize one-of-a-kind and from the heart. I think all of us can appreciate the time and thought that go into receiving something made by hand. It’s teaching my kids to care.

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