Sunday, 18 December 2016

Trees, teas, and butterflies

This time of year is always extra busy for me as I'm sure it is for everyone else too. Lots to organise and do. Bradley and I will perform in the 'Sing for Health' choir this Wednesday. We only had one hour of practice per week for five weeks with our choir master. We also practise at home when we are able. We will have a quick run-through of our songs just before the performance. Exciting and fun!

We will be singing five Christmas songs this year —
  • The Little Drummer Boy / Peace on Earth 
  • O Come, O Come, Emmanuel 
  • White Christmas 
  • Winter Wonderland
  • Jingle Bell Rock
I can't believe that Christmas is almost upon us. I confess that I'm not really in the Christmas mood yet. I find I get more into the Christmas mood after I've done all the Christmas food shopping and all the stresses that come with Christmas are out of the way. We no longer have our huge fiber-optic Christmas tree but I absolutely adore our little tabletop tree. I think it's SO cute!  

A few weeks ago, I was very excited to learn that I'd won a prize in a competition I didn't even know I was in. How about that?! Apparently, my Woollies Rewards card automatically put my name into the Twinings Tea Promotion when I'd bought some tea in my regular grocery shop. I was very surprised when they rang to congratulate me. A couple of weeks later, this Twinings Tea Chest came by courier. YAY!


I was then able to go to Woollies and select my own teas for FREE. Gotta love that! I do love the Twinings green tea and we have the camomile tea very night before bed. It really does help me to sleep better.  I don't mind a mint-flavoured tea either. Nice and refreshing.


I haven't been doing too much in the way of sketching. I did a quick pencil sketch of one of the Christmas trees on display at the Mater Hospital when we were there for choir practice which I've yet to put a splash of watercolour on.


I also added another butterfly — the one on the right — to the double-page spread I was working on a few weeks ago. This one is called 'The Redspot Sawtooth' and it's not quite finished yet.



I'm linking up with Sunday Sketches this week.  To see the work of other participants, please click HERE.

39 comments:

  1. Yes, we all are so busy right now but somehow that pad of paper and the pens, pencils, charcoals etc. call us, don't they?

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  2. Love that Christmas tree sketch, and your tiny tree too. Your butterflies are fantastic, and I might be a little jealous of them.

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  3. Lovely Xmas tree sketch and your butterfly is excellent ~ no Xmas spirit here to speak of ~ grey rainy days ~ but wishing you a Wonderful Christmas ~ xxx

    Wishing you peace in your days ~ ^_^

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    1. Thanks, Carol.

      Wishing you a Wonderful Christmas too. xxx

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  4. lovely sketch of the christmas tree! that's great news about the tea chest! how lucky you are!!

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    1. Thanks, Sue. The tea chest was a lovely surprise win. :)

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  5. Lovely sketches this week! Congrats on the win too. Merry Christmas Serena!

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    1. Thanks, Christine, and a Merry Christmas to you too. :)

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  6. I love your tree! Congratulations on winning the teas. Your sketches are so beautiful, I love the butterflies especially.

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  7. Good luck with your singing :) and the tea box is a pretty nice thing to have, can't fault free tea :)

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    1. Thanks, Jen. Our choir performance was a hit and lots of fun. I love my green tea so it was a wonderful surprise win. :)

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  8. Yeah, it's scarily close to Christmas. It's OK though... I'm ready for it!

    Hope all goes to plan at the choir on Wednesday... I'm sure you'll sound great!

    Congratulations on winning the tea prize. I love Twinings teas, and agree that their camomile tea is great when you need to relax and/or sleep.

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    1. Thanks, Tori, and yes, Twinings teas are so nice! I'm still not ready for Christmas.

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  9. If I were closer to a high ethical standard, I too would be a vegan, but it comes with many challenges, and then I would I do about living with three felis domesticas?

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    1. I went vegan for the animals but I'm also reaping positive health benefits as a bonus. Many vegans own cats, mostly rescued cats. Cats are true carnivores so definitely need animal protein in their diets. Most vegans accept this fact, however, it does become a bit of a moral dilemma for them though. I don't believe that vegans should force their vegan diets onto animals who are true carnivores.

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    2. “I don't believe that vegans should force their vegan diets onto animals who are true carnivores.”

      I remember hippies who thought dogs could get by on peanut butter, but it sure seemed foolish to me, and, as I understand it, cats need even more animal protein than dogs (don’t ask me why).

      I read recently that India’s Hindus wouldn’t kill rodents, yet they had a problem with bubonic plague (this was during the English occupation). Their solution was to import cats to kill the rodents. While cats are surely the best rodent killers around, it seems pretty close to rationalization to use cats instead of poisons or traps since the intent and the end result were the same.

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    3. cats need taurine or they can get very sick :( the only way to get it is from eating meat, even tho a lot of vegans say you can get substitutes for it, (most cats I've seen look dead in the eyes, but people say they do have vegan cats given good health checks by vets, but why get an animal that needs meat to live when you are vegan i don't know since there are many other animals out there that do not need meat to live) Its possible but you really have to monitor the cats health. but there are vegans like Serena that do feel the same, they wont force a vegan diet on a true carnivore but still will still have one as a pet.


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    4. People need taurine too, but we can synthesize it within our bodies, and cats cannot. I think that to try to force veganism on an animal that has evolved as a carnivore over a period of 40-million years is an act of breath-taking cruelty and arrogance. As for a vegan cat cat passing a check-up at the vet, a person can pass a check-at with an MD and still be sick because not everything is readily diagnosable. Then there is the problem of unknown longterm effects. I've no doubt but what nearly all vegans oppose lab experimentation on other species, but that's exactly what they're doing when they try to force veganism on a carnivore, and it suggests to me that they would be just as happy to force veganism on other people if they could get away with it. It also strikes me as odd that a person who would force veganism on a cat would trust a vet to tell them whether the cat was healthy, but that they mistrust all the decades of veterinary research regarding the dietary needs of cats (that cats need 30% of their diet to be animal protein, for example).

      "why get an animal that needs meat to live when you are vegan"

      Because no other animal is so companionable as a cat or a dog. I've head that potbellied pigs are, but I have no direct knowledge of them (I do know that they're not allowed in my own municipality--Eugene, Oregon--so I assume that the same is likely to be true elsewhere), and have you ever petted a pig? Their coats are like wire. I used to have a couple of rabbits, and they were awfully cute, but there was very little acknowledgement from them that I even existed. Chickens? Well, some people love them, just as some people are crazy about ferrets, but ferrets are also carnivores. What does that leave? Reptiles, frogs, fish? What I'm trying to say is that I can't judge people like Serena (or my best friend, Michelle) because they're already more ethical than I am and because I can well understand how my own life would mean less to me without the companionship of cats and dogs.

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    5. I think we are on the same page here. I'm a vegan and I don't believe it is right to force a vegan diet on animals who are obligate carnivores, such as cats. They need high levels of taurine to survive and maintain good health. Dogs are omnivores and can thrive on a vegan diet. The oldest living dog who was verified in the Guinness World Book of Records was in fact raised on a vegan diet. Bramble — a Blue Merle Collie — lived until the age of 27 years old and she thrived on a diet of lentils, rice, and organic vegetables. That said, I'm not yet comfortable switching my dogs to a full vegan diet and I don't know that I even will at this stage. Cody and Jack are both ten years old and I do cook up a brown rice and vegetable meal for them to which I add dog biscuits which does come from an animal source. This truly is a moral dilemma for me and I'm not sure that I would ever consider another dog or cat as future pets for this reason. In my case, I had my dogs well before I chose the vegan path as is the case with lots of other vegans out there. A lot of vegans have cats or dogs because they have rescued them from being put down due to overcrowding in animal shelters. Some vegans do buy them with the intentions of raising them vegan. I would only ever consider getting another dog if it were a rescue situation.

      Pigs make great animal companions and actually have the intelligence and understanding of a 4 or 5 year old child. I follow Esther, the Wonder Pig, and she is huge, very spoiled and a much loved pig. I've also seen stories of other pigs who have become family members. You are right that there are by-laws in some areas that will not allow pigs as pets. Esther started out in that situation until her Dads purchased an animal sanctuary. Esther was the reason they chose the vegan path. It's a lovely story.

      No vegan is perfect but we do try our best to make choices that cause the least possible harm to other sentient beings — no harm at all is the main aim as far as practicable and possible. Veganism is growing in leaps and bounds which is very heartening to me. Documentaries like Cowspiracy, Earthlings, Lucent, Forks over Knives, etc. are making a much needed impact considering animal agriculture is the leading cause of environmental damage and pollution to lands and waterways. If you are interested in seeing more on the environmental impact, I would strongly recommend Cowspiracy.

      Sorry for the long comment. I could go on and on as there is so much information out there that has long been hidden from the general public and I don't just mean from an animal cruelty perspective but also a health perspective too. Dr. Greger's book titled, How Not To Die, is truly an eye-opener. It is full of validated, scientific studies that simply cannot be argued against. I will talk more on that in future posts.

      Wishing you both a very Merry Christmas.

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    6. I do think we are on the same page with the idea, the problem with the net is things don't always come across the way we mean :)

      I have Cowspiracy on my list on Netflix, just need to find the time to watch it

      I would be a vegetarian but...there are not a lot of meals I could eat due to intolerances and allergies :/ and pigs can make wonderful members of the family if there is space for them to live properly :)

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    7. “I would only ever consider getting another dog if it were a rescue situation.”

      My three cats are from rescue agencies, and any pet I would get in the future would be from the same. I have bought pedigree dogs, but looking back, I can’t imagine what possessed me to pay people to breed dogs when other dogs were being killed for lack of a home (I have even killed some of those dogs). Now, if I absolutely had to have a certain breed, I would find a rescue group devoted to that breed. There’s an obscenity about breeding dogs and cats except in situations where only a breed will do—herding dogs for example.

      “No vegan is perfect but we do try our best to make choices that cause the least possible harm to other sentient beings — no harm at all is the main aim as far as practicable and possible.”

      The rub, to me, seems to be in the words practicable and possible. For instance, is it practicable and possible to avoid mechanized travel because other creatures would die beneath wheels and upon windshields? I think that we could all live a Jain-like existence if we chose to do so, but I know I’m not going to make that choice. I am going to continue a vegetarian diet except for fish, but that’s probably as far as I will ever go. I also know that I’m going to have cats and maybe another dog, and that I’m going to feed them what I think their evolution dictated that they need rather than what is humane. I can admire people like you just as I admire people who devote their lives to animal rescue, but I’m not going to live like you or them, and I won’t even offer an excuse, because I have none unless you count laziness, hypocrisy, and callousness as excuses.

      “Sorry for the long comment.”

      I like dialogue. Most bloggers put up their posts, following which most readers leave a one to three sentence comment, to which most bloggers make, at most, a one to three sentence response, but true dialogue is rare. Yet to me, without dialogue, blogging can feel like talking to a wall. I’ve greatly limited the number of blogs I now visit to those bloggers whom will dialogue and who feel like true friends. I hope you and I can be that, but I’ll tell you frankly, it must be two way because no matter how interesting I find someone, those who are devoted to my blog in the same way that I am devoted to theirs must take priority.

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    8. Snowbrush, I was pescetarian (a vegetarian who also eats fish) for 10 years before making the choice to go vegan. I don't judge my non-vegan friends. How could I? I was a non-vegan once too. I do try to educate though in what I hope comes across in a diplomatic and non-confrontational way.

      I'm glad to hear you cats are rescues. One of our dogs is a rescued stray — he became a member of our family when all attempts to find his owner failed. Jack has been with us six years now.

      Exactly! It is impossible to be 100% vegan in today's world but, as vegans, we can only try our best. The path that cause the least possible harm is our aim.

      I also make friends who visit and comment on my blog a priority when it comes to the time I have to visit other blogs. I promise to visit and comment on your blog very soon.

      I hope you are enjoying a beautiful Christmas Day.

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    9. Jen, I didn't take offense at anything you have said in your comments and please know that my comments are never meant to offend either. We are all entitled to our own viewpoints but I do agree that, sometimes, the written word can be misconstrued.

      Enjoy Cowspiracy. It pointed out things I wasn't even aware of.

      I hope you had a lovely Christmas Day. xx

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  10. Cute tree! Fits in well with your new black, white, and grey theme, too.
    Great sketch of the tree and appreciate the shot of both the actual tree and the sketch--cool! Butterflies are always special. Would love to see the tree sketch and butterfly all colored when they're done.

    Enjoy the choir performance!! I know you guys will be great and Brad will have a huge smile on his face, too. You can come home and celebrate with some of your tea from the beautiful wooden box. ;)

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    1. Thanks, Rita. Our choir performance went very well. We got lots of great feedback.

      Love and hugs to you and Karma xo

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  11. Congratulations on the free tea!!! I never win everything. Hope you have a great time with your performance.

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    1. Thanks, Stephanie. The performance went well and we had lots of fun. :)

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  12. I love your little tabletop tree! I bought a small plastic one two years ago, and I'm still happy with it. The best thing is that you can just put into a bag and in the cellar as it is, no need to take all the baubles and stuff down :) What a great thing to win! Love that box, and how wonderful that you got to choose the teas. I'm very fond of peppermint tea too. Love your butterflies!
    Have a wonderful Christmas holiday!

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    1. Thanks, Kay. Yes, the tabletop trees are SO easy to pack away and they don't take up much space in storage, unlike our fiber-optic tree which I'm very glad to be rid of. I'm thinking that I may eventually use the tea box for art supplies, maybe inks...the wooden petitions will be handy.

      Have a wonderful Christmas too! xx

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  13. Love your butterflies they are beautiful. Congratulations on your win. Your Christmas tree is very cute. Hope your charity singing goes well and you collect lots and lots of money for the charity.
    Have a very Zmerry Christmas and a Happy New Year

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    1. Thanks, Shashi. The choir went very well and I will post some video links soon.

      Have a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year. xx

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  14. love your little christmas tree and your sketch of the larger one.

    and nice to see your butterflies. They are gorgeous. :)

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    1. Thanks, Monica. Glad you like them. :)

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  15. That's a fun tea prize to win! Gorgeous butterflies in your journal pages. wishing you well this season.

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    1. Thanks, Juana.

      Have a happy and safe holiday season. :)

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