Tuesday, October 1, 2019

A Journey of Grief

When I was debating to pick a devotional last December I was considering two different one - the Book of Hope by Nancy Guthrie and Portraits of Devotion from Beth Moore.  The first one was written for anyone who has been hurt in life while the second one would make you go through the life of Jesus, David, John, and Paul.

But I sensed that God wanted me to pick the Book of Hope for some reasons.  I had been struggling for some years now with the relationship I had with my mom.  2019 was also the year where I would turn half a century and somehow I wanted - hoping - that our relationship would be changed somehow. 

So I embarked on a journey of reading daily the book of Hope, journaling the highlights I encountered in it, writing down scriptures in the journal and so on.   Faithfully I read, wrote and pondered. 

I speak to my mom regularly by phone.  But it has been years since we have seen each other.  It is complicated and I was trying to respect her wishes you see.   Anyhow I won't vent here because venting is not a solution to any problem.  So we spoke.  I knew she had a lingering cough and that she had been to the hospital once.  But she never mentioned anything urgent.

March arrived and with it my birthday.   I was struggling that week and decided to start seeing a Christian counselor.   I tried to call my mom as I usually do but there was no answer.  I left a message.  She never answered back... no by phone (which she usually do) or email. I was crushed.  Then on March 25th I got a phone call informing me that my mother had been in the hospital, that she had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, than she refused any treatment and hoped for euthanasia and that she had died that day at 2pm.   I was submerged with emotions and it felt like like I was drowning in grief.  Grief that I was not able to say goodbye, grief that our relationship had not had the chance to be repaired, grief beyond my own imagination...  GRIEF.

The next day I was debating a lot about what to do.   Call family members I had not seen in ages or not?  I decided it was more than time to mend the brokenness and reached out to both side of the family.   Again the walls that had been put up while I was growing up needed to be put down in my own perspective.   I was embraced open arm by my aunt (sister of my dad) and learned that my own cousin was living in the same city as me.  Unbelievable.  We have since met a few times and each time I come out of it encouraged and refreshed.  On the other side of the family, we messaged each other for some time but then as the months passed the messaged were sporadic to say the least.  As I am writing this today, I have not heard from my cousins on my mom's side for quite some time.   I usually always am the one who reach out...  I have decided to wait and see for now.

So my grief journey, my mourning started in March...  At the same time my dear father-in-love, the one who welcome me into his family was struggling with some health issues.  At some point he was tested intensively in order to determine what was going on.   On May 4th, we learned the official
diagnostic and it was a fatal sickness which meant that there was no possible treatment for him.  We were crushed once again.   He spent some time at his home but as the sickness progressed we knew that he would be move in palliative care.  One of my boys went to help on weekend to be there for both his grand-parents.  He knew he would leave to work at a Christian camp during the summer and at that time he was more available than his older brother who were studying hard to complete his grade 12 in order to get good grades. 

My oldest son wrote his last exam on June 24th.  That precious weekend it became evident that my father-in-love could not stay in his house anymore.   On June 25th, we brought him to the palliative care unit of an hospital in town.  It was also the day when my oldest son turned 18.   It was difficult but we had to do it.

Throughout the summer everyone in the family pitched in as we wanted him to be with someone as much as possible.  Everyone had what we called "shifts" through the weeks.   My oldest son decided to spend as much time as possible with him and learned quite a bit in the medical field during that time.  He had been accepted in BioMedical Sciences and was looking forward to start university.   We visited often...

Through it all I continued to go through this devotional and marveled at how much God new I would need it for the year of 2019.   Not only did I was going through grief in many ways with my mom but I was going through grief also with my father-in-love.  I did not know when would be his last day but I tried the best I can to show him that I loved him. 

July went by.  We entered the month of August.  He was still with us...  We continued to visit, take care of him and serve him in many ways.  He slowly lost the ability of walking.  He was a strong man and the sickness was not progressing as fast as the doctors expected. 

On August 30th, he passed away early in the morning.  We had had the opportunity to go say goodbye the previous evening  and spend time individually with him.   He is dearly missed by everyone.

Last night - on the first month "anniversary" of his departure - my whole family started a journey of healing called GriefShare.  Our church is holding this 10 weeks course for people who have lost a loved one whether recently or a while back.  As I was sitting listening to the introduction where you learn the names of the hosts of the video lessons, I had the feeling that I knew the names - David and Nancy Guthrie.  When they mentioned they lost two of their kids at age two months and that their kids were Hope and Gabriel, I reacted.   This was the same woman who wrote the devotional book that I had been using since the beginning of the year.

My journey through grief started with the book of Hope which God guided me to take in my hands back in December 2018.  He knew what was in store for me this year - 2019 would be a difficult year when it comes to grief.  He knew I needed all the support and encouragement He could provide - via the devotional book, the counseling, the bible reading and art journaling I have done since and finally through this 10 weeks course called GriefShare.   I am speechless as I sit back and look at how He guided me even before I knew that death would be part of my journey this year.  This course is for 10 weeks as I mentioned before and will finish sometime in December wrapping up the year in an amazing way.  This year I suspect that Christmas will be even more difficult because 1) I won't be able to call my mom as I usually do and 2) my father-in-love will be absent physically in our family celebration. But at the same time, I suspect that Christmas will be joyful because I have reconnect with long lost family members.

I have reunited with my aunt, uncle and cousin.  I have family living in my city and we visited a few times already.  Even met a long lost cousin from BC who came in town with her family.  I think the last time I saw her she was 5 years old and I was a teenager.  Later this year, there is a plan for my aunt in BC to visit so chances are I will meet her again as well. 

Grief.  Joy.  Reconnecting with lost family member.  Mending the walls.  Journaling through the whole process using art.  These are all part of my journey for 2019.   God has been amazing since the beginning of the year and I know He is walking with me today and forever for years to come.   Yes 2019 has been difficult in many ways - things I had not expected that crushed me.  But it also brought joy in my life in ways I had not expected either. 

GriefShare is held in churches everywhere - please visit https://www.griefshare.org/ for more details and discover where it is held in your area.

Song for Grandpapa - Original Acoustic Guitar Fingerstyle Song

My oldest son has written an original song in the memory of his grand-father who passed away on August 30th, 2019.   Enjoy.



Friday, August 23, 2019

Overcomer

I recently had the privilege to pre-screen the movie Overcomer which comes out in theaters today.

Overcomer tells a story that illustrate how life can change overnight.   One of the main characters is an high school basketball coach and he sees the big potential that the team has for the upcoming year.  However, some unexpected events will turn the dream into a series of challenges that many people through the town will have to face in the days and weeks to come.  At some point, he is asked to fill-in for as coach for a sport that he doesn't know or understand. This is were he will meet a student who is also struggling through her own journey in life.

I won't tell you much more than that because I truly believe that this movie is worth watching.  Not only would the story touch you in many ways (bring some tissues with you) but you will also appreciate the transformation in the lives of many characters in this movie.

The Kendrick's brothers have produced numerous faith movies through the years (Flywheel in 2003, Facing the Giants in 2006, Fireproof in 2008, Courageous in 2011, and War Room in 2015).  One comment I have told my husband after viewing Overcomer was that you can see the quality of their movies has become better through the years.

When we watched this movie our family was short of a few people as some were at camp and another were helping a family member.  We have enjoyed the movie and its synopsis.  I cried - I admit it.   I was touched for various reasons throughout the movie.  It made me realize that I am also an overcomer in many ways - particularly this year when some challenges have shown up in my life and I had to go through them in order to become the person God has in mind for me. Sometimes when life is challenging you need to face it and be willing to get help too. 

This movie is perfect for the whole family - young and old.  It is inspiring in many ways and will leave you filled with hope and will challenge you to ponder on this question: "What do you allow to define you?" 

The movie will be playing at numerous theaters throughout Canada.  To get a full list of the theaters, please go to the Overcomer Canadian website.

In Ottawa the movie will be showing at the following theaters:
  • Landmark Cinemas 24 Kanata
  • ScotianBank Theater Ottawa in Gloucester
Check out the trailer before heading to the theater.  It will give you an idea of what to expect.


Friday, July 5, 2019

Name a new song



Hey everyone!

My son has composed another song that he had not named yet.  He is asking anyone who is willing to comment on his YouTube Channel to comment the title they think should be given for this song.

So go listen to his new song and feel free to suggest a name for it.   And please do share with your friends, family and neighbors!

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Oh Canada Eh? Dinner Show


Ten years ago, when our children were smaller than they are today, we went on a trip to Niagara Falls.  Not too far from our campsite there was an attraction that caught our eye - a dinner show called Oh Canada Eh? After looking into it we decided that it would not be a good time to go with four small children in tow and we skipped the opportunity to have what looked like an out-of-the-ordinary evening.

Fast forward to 2019 where the Oh Canada Eh? is celebrating their 25th anniversary entertaining guests in the Niagara Falls area.   However, this year the show is making it's debut in the Nation's capital -  Ottawa .  The show has been brought in Ottawa by Totally Legit Productions and is performed at the Clark Hall in the RA Centre located at 2451 Riverside Drive in Ottawa.

I was approached with the opportunity to attend the VIP night which was held last week.   I was able to bring my whole family as well as the girlfriend of my oldest son.  We were looking forward to discover the Oh Canada Eh? Dinner Show pretty much for a whole week.

What is Oh Canada Eh?
For those of you who might not be familiar with Canada's longest running dinner musical, the Oh Canada Eh? is a two-hour musical comedy featuring over seventy Canadian songs. You will hear Canadian music from the post-World War II era to modern pop, from the maritime folk songs to modern classics which were sang by Canadian artists throughout history.   You will also meet famous Canadian characters like Anne of Green Gables, a hockey player, a Mountie and lumberjacks.  Audience interaction is also expected in this special dinner show.   You will discover Canadian culture and discover the unique sense of humour Canadians have.

What to expect
The performers will be entertaining you and serving you throughout the evening.  You will laugh at their jokes and sing along as you recognize the songs performed.   It is strongly suggested that you arrive at the RA Centre for 6:15pm for the Dinner & Show and expect to leave around 9pm (sometimes a bit later as we experienced it).   

Note that is considered a family friendly performance.  The show does feature a live band and mild strobe lighting.

The menu 
The food were not only a feast for our eyes but for our stomachs as well!   This five-course family-style meal is composed of products from all around the country.   When you arrive at your table, you will be greeted by a garden salad, fresh bread and French Canadian pea soup.   The soup was enjoyed by four individuals at our table and not so much by the other three.  But that's OK because French Canadian pea soup is the kind of soup that is not loved by everyone.  (Honestly, I was born and raised in Quebec... and I have never been able to enjoy pea soup to this day!  I tried it though.  It was very different compared to the one my mom used to make.  This one is more like a pottage than real traditional pea soup.)  Forty-five minutes into the show the rest of the meal is served at your table.  It consist of Manitoba roasted chicken, lightly battered and fried Atlantic haddock, Alberta Grade 'EH' roast beef (with a delicious mushroom sauce), vegetable medley and roasted PEI potatoes.     The meal is then completed with a maple chocolate swirl cake, hot tea and coffee.  Note that diabetic, vegetarian/vegan, gluten, lactose and allergen free meals are also available upon request.  And you can order a side of mac & cheese for the kids in your party as well.

Garden salad, fresh bread, and French Canadian pea soup.

 

Main course:  roasted chicken, haddock, roast beef, vegetable medley and roasted potatoes

maple chocolate swirl cake
And for those of you who are wondering, yes there is a licensed bar that provides a fine selection of local wines, Canadian beers, mixed drinks and non-alcoholic beverages (additional charges apply for this!).
Don't worry - she did not order anything from this menu! *grin*

Our Thoughts


Our evening stated with a cocktail reception - where we were served Moose Juice as they call it.  Moose Juice is a non-alcoholic beverage by the way.  They were also serving alcoholic but we decided to stick with the non-alcoholic version. 

Our party minus one(taking the picture obviously!).

 Once we were seated - and to our surprise we were in the Gold Leaf section (more about this later) - we were able to eat a bit before the show started.  We met our server who will be performing as well during the evening and she was very nice.  After all the guests were seated, the show started and without waiting a minute, the casts entertained us with songs, historical information and...  some jokes.

Beginning of the show

Anne of Green Gables
Hockey Player



Canoe ride anyone?

More songs
We enjoyed the show and I loved to see my husband immediately singing along with most of the songs.   I personally was a bit disappointed not to hear more French Canadian song.  For example, when they interpreted some songs from Céline Dion it would have been nice to hear at least one French one since she started in that language. 

The show itself was entertaining.   And the cast do interact with the people in the room for specific parts of the show.   Unfortunately for my husband, he was picked by our server while she performed as a saloon girl during the Klondike.  Now to make things clear, her costume was very appropriate and not at all like the dresses of saloon girls we see in movies.   She was just playing a role... going from man to man just like a butterfly goes from flower to flower.   My husband was the first one to be "picked" so to speak.   As she was "flirting" with him, my son says to her "He is married you know."  To which she answers "That's how I like them."  But then she goes on to the next guy at the next table and again to another...   It was historical in a way.  My kids knew a bit about saloon girls.   But I wish that this part would be changed a bit seeing that the show is considered a family friendly performance.  Be also aware that there were also a couple of other jokes that could be felt inappropriate from some people.  

But as I think back of our evening I realize that pretty much all of us enjoyed it and thought that overall the show was well done, the food was incredible and we had a fabulous time together.   It was nice to be able to relax and be entertained at Oh Canada Eh?  

As a homeschool family, we appreciated the fact that the items on the menu were coming from various parts of the country, the history we were exposed by learning more about singers and the songs that are considered Canadian, and the variety of the performance in so many ways.   I would recommend that families who are homeschooling would consider attending this dinner show with their older children.   Be aware of the little things that could raise an eyebrow in the show and approach the subject in advance with your kids. 

At the end of the evening, as we were driving back home, we discussed about all the other potential singers/groups that could have been represented.   There were some disappointments in not hearing songs from Platinum Blonde for example.  I suppose it would have been too long of a show to include more songs from other bands that we know are Canadian....

Another thing that I think would make the menu more interesting would be to incorporate desserts from various parts of the country like Nanaimo bars for BC for example.   I would be a great way to discover the popular sweets from various part of the country in the meal.   Also, I would love to see some items from Yukon, North West Territories or Nunavut on the menu if possible. 

Dates and Prices
The Ottawa edition of the Oh Canada Eh? Dinner Show has been going on since June 28th and will continue to be presented until September 14th.    The shows are usually schedule on the evening except for some Saturdays where a lunch show is offered (note - the roast beef is not served at the lunch show).  Free parking is available.

Prices varies depending of your seating preferences.   There are three offers - Golf Leaf ($82.95), Silver Leaf ($72.95) and Maple Leaf ($62.95).  You can visualize the seating chart on their website.  If you desire to attend the show only please note that only the Maple Leaf section is available for the price of $42.95 per person.

In Conclusion
Oh Canada Eh? Dinner Show is worth discovering with your family.  As mentioned above, be aware of a few things that could offend some people.   This is definitively a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you do not want to miss in Ottawa this year!

Monday, June 24, 2019

Grade 12 Completed...

As I sit down and write this, my oldest son is writing his last exam for high school.   The past year he was full time with an online school called Virtual Learning Center (VLC for short).

He had done it part time during his grade 11 and went full time for his grade 12.   Through this year he also went through the process of applying for university.

This particular semester was a bit heavy for him since he had four classes - Advanced Functions, Chemistry, Biology and Calculus and Vectors.   But he did amazingly well...

He applied in three different programs for university:
Choice #1 - Bachelor of Sciences in Biomedical at UOttawa
Choice #2 - Bachelor in Health Science option Biomedical at Carleton University
Choice #3 - Bachelor in Health Science.

He was accepted in all three with scholarship.  So proud of him...

So next September he embark on a journey of learning in Biomedical.  He is looking forward to it.

We started homeschooling him officially when he was going to be in grade 1.   It was worth it in many ways and I would encourage parents to seriously consider homeschooling your kids during the high school.

One has finished.  I still have three at home...  but somehow I have a feeling of accomplishment when I know that he is pursuing his dream to work in the medical field.  He hopes to be able to go into Medical School but he already has backup plans.  

Congrats Alex!  So proud of you!


You're the One - Original Song - Instrumental Guitar Composed by my son!


Oldest has been composing music in his spare time.  This is the latest one he has done - other ones are on his YouTube channel including an adorable Happy Birthday one!


Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Owling


Owling: Enter the World of the Mysterious Birds of the Night
By Mark Wilson
Published at: Storey Publishing
About the book
From Hedwig, the Snowy Owl of Harry Potter fame, to Winnie-the-Pooh’s beloved friend Owl, this wide-eyed bird of the night has found its way into young hearts and imaginations everywhere. Owling invites young readers into the world of real-life owls, to learn about their fascinating behaviors and abilities. 

Wildlife photojournalist and nature educator Mark Wilson presents a one-of-a-kind look into the mysterious lives of these distinctive birds. Dramatic images of the 19 owl species of North America nesting, flying, hunting, and catching prey are accompanied by information about the birds’ silent flight, remarkable eyes and ears, haunting calls, and fascinating night life. Kids will learn how to spot owls; identify their calls, plumage, and pellets; and even carry on a hooting conversation with a nearby owl.

My Thoughts
My daughter has fallen in love with owls ever since she read the book series titled Guardians of Ga’Hoole.  To be honest I have lost count how many times she has read this series in the past two years.  Every time she sees something that is owl related she is delighted.  More recently, we had the privilege to see a snowy owl in a field near our home as we were going to church.  My daughter was all excited to have seen one in the wild.


She isn’t the only one who enjoy seeing owls.   I love anything related to bird watching. Needless to say that having the opportunity to review Owling is extra special in this household because I know that my daughter will particularly like this book.

The book is packed with information concerning owls.   The table of contents is very precise in what it covers.

  • Chapter 1: All About Owls – This chapter will present you information about owl like the parts of an owl head, it’s body parts, the fact that owls can turn their head in circle, their eyes, night vision, hearing, their predatory skills, their flight, their feathers, their feet, their beak, and so on.
  • Chapter 2: Introducing the Owls – This chapter starts with the scientific names for owls and then jump directly in presenting all the different owls we can see in the wild,  More specifically, you will learn about Owls of North America, Barn Owl, Flammulated Owl, Western Screech-Owl, Eastern Screech-Owl, Whickered Screech-Owl, Great Horned Owl, Snowy Owl, Northern Hawk Owl, Northern Pygmy-Owl, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Elf Owl, Burrowing Owl, Spotted Owl, Barred Owl, Great Gray Owl, Long-eared Owl, Short-Eared Owl, Boreal Owl, and Northern Saw-whet Owl.  For each of these owls, you will learn their scientific name, their old names, how to identify them, their range and habitat, their voice, their nesting behavior, their hunting habits and their menu. 
  • Chapter 3: How to Find Owls – This chapter will allow you to discover when and how to find owls in the wild. You will also learn about owl pellets and how to build an owl house.
  • Chapter 4: Working with Owls – This chapter will present you all the different jobs that allow someone to work close to owls whether you are a wildlife specialist or an artist.


The book also includes a glossary, a list of places to see owls in captivity. an index as well as a metric conversion chart.  Just to give you an idea of what the pages look like in the book check the pages below.






As you can see this book contains numerous pictures, a ton of information as well as fascinating facts about owls.   It would make a wonderful gift to someone who enjoy birds in general or is a fan of owls of all sorts. This book is also great for someone who desire to make a school project on owls.,,It is a fabulous reference when studying birds.

Owling is available for purchase at your favorite bookstore, even on amazon.ca and amazon.com.

 

Disclaimer: Thanks to Thomas Allen for sending me the above mentioned book for review purposes. I was not monetarily compensated for this review. Please note that the review was not influenced by the Sponsor in any way. All opinions expressed here are only my own.














Saturday, January 19, 2019

Made for the Journey

Made for the Journey – One Missionary's First Year in the Jungles of Ecuador
By Elisabeth Elliot
Published at Revell
About the Book
In this deeply personal account of her first year as a missionary, Elisabeth Elliot shares the challenges she faced as she worked in the jungles of Ecuador to bring the Word of God to a people virtually untouched by the outside world. With fascinating detail, she captures the stark realities of life in the jungle, the difficulties she encountered while developing a written language for the tribe, and her confusion when God didn't "cooperate" with her efforts to accomplish what she believed was His will.
More than just a memoir, Made for the Journey is a beautifully crafted and deeply personal reflection on the important questions of life and a remarkable testimony to authentic Christian obedience to an unfathomable God.
Who is Elisabeth Elliot?
Elisabeth Elliot (1926-2015) was one of the most perceptive and popular Christian writers of the last century. The author of more than twenty books, including Passion and Purity and The Journals of Jim Elliot, Elliot offered guidance and encouragement to millions of readers worldwide.
My Thoughts
Elisabeth Elliot has become an inspirational Christian woman through her writings. But before she became an inspiration to many she was herself a missionary who spent many years in Ecuador.   This book is about her first year as a missionary in the jungles of Ecuador. 
This book is literally an adventure in itself.  You will embark on a journey following the footsteps of Elisabeth Elliot (then Howard) as she arrives and travels through the jungles to her destination in order to help in the Colorado tribe.  While reading this book you will be in awe of her courage, fear at times during their journey, experience joy and sadness and much more.  This book is packed with emotions as you read her journey and experience in the jungles of Ecuador.   One specific chapter highlights all the work that had to be done when it comes to drinking water or milk as well as food preparation.   It is amazing to realize that in North America we sometime wait at the last minute to prepare our food while back then as a missionary (and I am sure still today in some countries) you would have to plan in advance and manage to live without a refrigerator or a freezer.   This particular chapter was an eye opener of the kind of environment some missionary might live in to this day in certain parts of the world.
Elisabeth Elliot’s book is written in such a way that you will be immerse in the atmosphere describe in each chapter.  It is almost as if you are witnessing the scene as she unfold it under your eyes.   I enjoy that time of writings when it comes to biographies.   I find that it makes it more personal, more realistic for the reader.  I have heard of the tragic end of her first husband Jim Elliot but I had never read anything from Elisabeth Elliot until now.  I have enjoyed reading Made for the Journey and will definitively look read more books from Elisabeth Elliot in the future.
Whether you are thinking of going on a mission trip or you simply enjoy learning more from inspirational Christians of the past, this book is a delight to discover.   This book will help you to better visualize the life of a missionary in regions where not a lot of our regular North American amenities exists.   It will give you a better understanding and perspective of their lives as they work to reach out and teach the gospel to people groups that have not been touched by it yet.
Made for the Journey is available for purchase at your favorite bookstore, even on amazon.ca and amazon.com.

Disclaimer: The copy of this book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. for review purposes. I was not monetarily compensated for this review. Please note that the review was not influenced by the Sponsor in any way. All opinions expressed here are only my own.




Friday, January 11, 2019

Isa Art Boutique is open on Etsy

Hello dear readers!

For the past few years I have been illustrating scripture verses in my journaling Bible.   Funny though that I enjoy drawing and painting these days because I sure disliked it when I was in high school during my art class.   Anyhow, through the years I have become a bit better in sketching, drawing and painting.   Back in December, we thought we could use some of these paintings I have made and offer them as black cards for people to use.   And so my Etsy store – Isa’s Art Boutique was open a week or so before Christmas. 

Isa’s Art Boutique can be found on Etsy - https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/IsaArtBoutique.

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At this point I have five different paintings that we are offering as greeting cards.

Yellow Warbler

Yellow Warbler

This beautiful bird is offered as a single or in a pack of five greeting cards. 

Baby Turtles

BabyTurtles

This design is offered as a single or a a pack of five greeting cards. 

Poppies

Poppies

The poppies are offered as a single or a a pack of five greeting cards.

Barn Owl

Barn Owl

The barn owl design is offered as a single or a a pack of five greeting cards.

Hummingbird

Hummindbird

The hummingbird is offered as a single or a a pack of five greeting cards.

MultiPack

Finally, we are also offering a pack with all the different kinds of greeting cards.   This multipack is offered in five or tens (2 of each design) greeting cards. 

PckFive

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The painting were originally sketched, inked with Pitt Pens and painted with Derwent Inktense products on Canson XL Series Watercolor Textured Paper.  Size of the cards are 5x7 inches.   As you can see on the image above, they are either on portrait or landscape format depending of the format of the original painting.

Prices of the greeting cards varies depending of what you desire to purchase.  Swing by my Etsy store Isa’s Art Boutique to see the prices.

If you desire more updates on Isa’s Art Boutique, please join my mailing list - http://eepurl.com/gbyFN5.