Featured Artist: Jo-Ann Blondin

Hello and thank you for popping in today! 

I am writing this blog post on a Friday morning from my "home office". In this case "home office" is code for sitting in bed, coffee in hand with a computer on my lap. The window shades are open and I can see our backyard while I write. This is one of my favorite parts of the week. Even though I am working....it feels like a mini vacation and a treat for my soul. 

Another treat for my soul is to introduce you to our featured artist, Jo-Ann Blondin.  I met Jo-Ann one year ago this month at a photography retreat and we recently shared experiences (fears and delights) of our daughters' hiking adventures on the Pacific Crest and Appalachian Trails. Note: Both daughters survived and thrived and so did their mothers. 

Jo-Ann shared her journey as an artist and her fabulous gluten free oatmeal recipe with us today. It's perfect for Autumn breakfast.

Welcome to our blog Jo-Ann 


Hello,

I am delighted to be the artist of the month. To be honest, being called an artist was a shock to me.  Sure I have gone to school for design – interior, landscaping and advertising, but it never occurred to me that I am an artist.  I only thought I was creative.  So, I thought we could discuss when a creative person jumps to being an artist.

Most people believe an artist is someone who paints, draws, does sculptures or perhaps is an accomplished musician.  However, an artist is anyone who practices a skill that creates an artist experience.  For instance, a gardener who invites you into their skillfully designed space and the garden brings you joy, peace and serenity, is an artist.  They have considered their climate, zone, environment, soil type, amount of sun, plant choices and seasonality plus garden design from all views to give you this experience.

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Have you ever attended a garden tour where the artistry of a particular garden left you in awe?  That is the true artist at work.  I recently attended Mosaic — a living sculpture garden that was designed for Canada’s 150th celebrations.  The gardens moved me to tears due to the sheer artistry that was displayed through plant choices and design elements.

How about food?  The way food is created and presented is a sensory art.  We all have a friend who makes amazing food and intentionally displays it with such care and joy.  The experience is an artistic expression of culinary skills that delights us visually and excites the palette.

For those who style food and photographic it, there is artistry in capturing the light, getting the food and prop styling in such a way that it sells the experience.  True artistry is also capturing movement, people and joy in the images. Both the food stylist and the photographer are artists.

The photographer is a visual artist who captures moments in time.  They use the camera to show how amazing the world is to them so they can share it with others.  There are so many ways to use photography skills artistically – still life, nature, weddings, special events, lifestyle, city life, canoe trips and more.  For myself as an artist, I practise using my camera in multiple areas as I constantly learn more about subjects, movement and lighting and how my camera works by using it often.  I also learn more by pushing myself outside of my comfort zone.

Perhaps for you as an artist, your skills are in painting, interior design or decorating, culinary skills, nature photography or gardening or another area.  If you want to explore your creativity more, I highly recommend taking in-person classes or attending a workshop to enhance your skills.  You are never too old or young to learn new skills and discover your talents.  It’s all about practice and pushing away perfection so you make errors to learn more.  Progress is more important than perfection.

It’s important for artists to share their work in a public way so that people can provide feedback.  I have found that Instagram is a great way to share images so that I can engage with others who enjoy the same creative outlets and to grow as an artist by pushing my work out into the public domain to get input.  Don’t be afraid to share your work as that is how you will grow and improve.  It also gives you a visual record of how you have progressed over time. 

September always reminds me of back to school.  It’s the time of year that many artists sign up for courses and workshops to develop their skills.  If you are pressed for time to practice your creative endeavours, I suggest you look to batch cooking and easy nutritious meals to sustain and fuel you for longer periods so that you can make your creativity a priority. 

Deb asked if I could share a recipe with you so, in honour of going back school to explore your creativity, here is a trusted recipe for Gluten-Free Protein Oatmeal that will make life easier for you so have more time to explore your artistic expression and embrace calling yourself an artist.  This recipe is also great for college students as a gift, taking camping and bringing to work.

Wishing you all joy in your creativity as you share your gifts of artistic expression,

Jo-Ann Blondin


Homemade Gluten-Free Protein Oatmeal To Go

Ingredients

  • 8 cups of gluten-free large flake rolled oats
  • 2 cup pecans – raw
  • 2 cups walnuts – raw
  • 2 cups almonds – raw
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds - raw
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds - raw
  • 1 cup chia seeds
  • 1 cup hemp hearts
  • 1 cup ground flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 cup dried cranberries sweetened with apple juice
  • 1 cup dried apricots
  • 1 cup golden berries or raisins or goji berries
  • 8 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions

  1. Get out the large turkey roaster as you will need a really big pot to combine.
  2. Add the gluten-free large flake rolled oats.
  3. Chop up the pecan, walnuts and almonds into small pieces.
  4. Add to the oats and combine.
  5. Add the chia, hemp hearts, ground flax seed and dried unsweetened coconut flakes and combine.
  6. Chop the apricots into small pieces. Add a bit of the above mixture while you chop to reduce the apricots sticking to your knife. Add to pot and combine.
  7. Add the cranberries and golden berries.
  8. Add the ground cinnamon and combine.

When fully combined, create individual serving sizes. Depending on what you like to eat the mixture above makes 40 - 1/2 cup servings.  Package in freezer bags and keep in the freezer until needed.

To serve, put the individual serving amount in a bowl and add enough boiling hot water to cover and stir to combine. Let stand for 10 minutes with a plate over top to keep in the heat.  Top with fresh berries or apples if desired.


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Jo-Ann Blondin is an award winning marketer who loves to share her creativity in the garden, kitchen, interior decorating.  She is particularly passionate about lifting women up to embrace all their gifts.  Her photographs have appeared in Mingle Magazine.  You can find her at JoAnnBlondin.com or on Instagram at @JoAnnBlondin.  She also shares tours of her garden on YouTube.com/JoAnnBlondin

Harvest Splendor

"Spread the seeds of encouragement far and wide, and delight in the bountiful harvest that they will surely bring".  -Ralph Marston

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Bringing in the Harvest
A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to "bring in the harvest" with our daughter-in-law, Hattie. She has an amazing green thumb and grows beautiful greens and vegetables. She inspired me to plant lettuce in a container garden this year, something I have never done before, and we harvested it for salads all summer long. 

I was in awe of the beautiful colors and shapes of Hattie's harvest and I wanted to share their beauty with you.  

Find photos, behind the scenes in the studio, pickle recipe, and more here.