Shannon Fennell's Blog

My life, cooking, make-up, travel, the joy of home ownership and the occasional rant!


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The New Me – Documented

With my whole lifestyle change over the last couple of years I was wanting to get some proper, professional photographs of myself.  I wanted some headshots (I act occasionally and needed at least one proper one), some suitable for business use and promotion, and some just for my own satisfaction – to show how I’ve changed physically.

Other than school photos or those horrible family photo sessions, I had never had a professional photo shoot of myself for my own reasons.  I have photos taken by pros but I was an accidental subject, or the photos were for someone else’s use (for magazine profiles for example.)  I have some very nice photos – but they were of the “old” me.

So this past Sunday I finally had my photo shoot with MAJ Photography (her website is this link) in Grande Prairie. Maj had taken my photo before at different times and I knew she is great at portraits and getting natural looking shots of all sorts of people. I can’t recommend her highly enough.

This is one she took for a magazine feature about me in 2013.

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And this next one she took when we were both at a local event last December. I was wearing my new coat and asked her to take some photos of it for me.

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We finally got it coordinated and last Sunday was the day!

I had a mini-crisis trying to decide what to wear. Even with a closet full of new clothes I had a hard time choosing. I hadn’t actually realized HOW many tops I’d managed to acquire in the last eight months or so – since I got to my current size. I counted all of them while I was trying things on to pick out what I thought were the best. Keep in mind that there are a couple dozen $5 t-shirts from Michael’s, but I have probably around 70 tops. That includes turtlenecks for winter, sweaters, fleeces, blouses, tunics, and Aloha shirts… Some were my mom’s and now fit me so I kept them.  And some are oversized that I’ve kept for gardening and messing around with crafts, etc.

Anyhow… after a marathon session of trying on various things, I narrowed it down to eight tops I liked and thought looked really nice. I left the final choice to the photographer. When she got here she chose four of them – based on the backgrounds and contrast needed.

We were at it for four hours!  Started in my basement studio with two different backgrounds – the painted wall and my black backdrop. Then we went to a local park as it was a beautiful Spring day, in front of the Courthouse, then inside the Art Gallery in three different spots, then outside the Cultural Centre on the patio.  We were all over the place.

Maj was really fast getting the images to me! We did the shoot Sunday afternoon and I had the files by Tuesday afternoon.

I am beyond thrilled with how they turned out.  Maj sent me close to 40 shots to use and all are great, but I have my favourites.

These three are for using for promoting my make-up services.  I was sitting sideways in my make-up chair leaning over the back in the two.

This was a studio shot.

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The rest of these were taken at the park, in front of the Courthouse, in the Art Gallery and on the Cultural Centre patio.  I love the natural light – and my beautiful blouse from Morocco looks great with my leggings and boots.  This is a bit of overkill with multiple shots but I love them all and couldn’t narrow it down any further.

The fact that I actually got down and sat on the floor is a testament to Maj’s skill, as I don’t get down that low for just anyone!  Getting up involved railings and a lot of leverage.

I think this is my favourite – I am adjusting to how I look as it is still so new to me. Losing 200 pounds is a lot of difference.

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Summer thoughts and deeds

Last weekend I was face painting at Grizfest Music Festival in Tumbler Ridge, BC.  I have been there every year since 2005!  It is a nice weekend in a beautiful little town in the mountains.  We get to paint and listen to great music while we work.  We drive up there Saturday morning (three-hour drive), paint for five hours on Saturday and Sunday, and drive home on Monday.  I always enjoy the trip – even driving through blinding rain and thunderstorms, forest fires, and snow – depending on the year.

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This year Tom Cochrane was the headliner on Saturday (we ran into him in the lobby of the hotel!) and Simple Plan was the main act on Sunday.

On July 13th my crew and I face painted at Municipal Government Day at Muskoseepi Park (which had been rescheduled from June due to a massive storm!)  This photo by William Vavrek Photography is of the line-up of people waiting for face painting.  The City events at the Park are always busy!

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We were there on Canada Day too.  And so was William Vavrek Photography!  I am too busy to stop to take photos so thankfully someone is there to take some!

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Next weekend I will be face painting at the Debolt Festival & Fair on Saturday.

The weather has been really damp here – thunderstorms, massive rain.  I actually put my furnace on yesterday as the damp was making it quite chilly and I needed to warm up the air in the house.  Yesterday there were thunderstorms for 10 hours straight… one after the other rolled in.  Everything is nice and green… but too wet to mow!  On the positive side I don’t have to haul the hose around to water the garden.

In other news things are progressing – still dropping weight as a result of removing carbs and sugar from my diet, blood sugar is staying in the normal range and I am still receiving injections in my eyes to treat diabetic retinopathy (apparently it is working and once it it fixed the injections stop.)

This is of me in 2000 and me last Saturday.  The change was really gradual, and in spurts due to various things.  The big changes due to the diagnosis last December resulted in a 50 lb drop, which is continuing.  I am assuming I will plateau once my body finds it’s preferred level as I am not dieting, per se, just don’t eat things I can’t.

BW before after

I’ve reached the stage where I can actually shop in “normal” stores and buy off-the-rack large and medium clothing… and it FITS!  I’ve never done that.  When I was 10 I was wearing my mother’s clothes.

I keep ending up in the plus size areas – habit I guess.  It is hard to look at things to judge size, but I am slowly getting the hang of it as I have to shop for new things every month I am getting lots of practice.  I’m doing most of the shopping at Giant Tiger or Goodwill – no point in spending a lot when I’m going to be donating things in a month!  I was searching for heavy leggings (heavy as they need to hold things in, like loose skin) and ended up at Bootlegger. I’ve never bought anything there before!

I culled my closet again and dropped off a load at Goodwill this week.  I need to start making sure to wear all the things that fit, WHILE they fit. I get annoyed with myself when I pull out something I bought a couple months ago, never wore, and now it is too big to look nice.

I’m a little sad my Spider-Man and Hulk shirts are too big now.  I’d inherited them from my brother Neil when he died.  I’ve only been able to wear them lately.  The Hulk is just hanging off of me and Spidey probably will only be wearable until the end of this month.  I really love those shirts.  I’ve been looking for similar ones but just don’t see them anywhere.

Oh, and this is exciting – I bought cheap sports bras (two for $12) in large, and they fit!  OMG, they are so comfortable!  There are some things you NEED a bra under and the only one I own is black – and that just doesn’t work for light summer tops!  As I am less than an A-cup I don’t need much.  One of the first things to disappear was whatever bosom I had (which wasn’t much to start with.)

This is 2013 vs this week … anyone interested in a medieval reversible bodice and blouse?

2013 vs 2016

 

 

 

 

 


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A new venture – Name Art

I am now taking commissions for one-of-a-kind hand created Name Art.  I find it very therapeutic to create these unique pieces and have a lot of fun coming up with the designs.

I set-up a Facebook business page yesterday for this new venture  Shannon Fennell Art. You can contact me about it via message from that page.

I can work on them at anytime and anywhere so it is a portable activity (and it fills the time spent sitting in waiting rooms.)

I can do work suitable for framing, postcards, invitations, birthday cards, announcements, certificates, gifts, signs… pretty much anything you might want a name done decoratively for.  And they can be shipped worldwide.

I use good quality artist’s paper and pens, felt pens, art markers, watercolour pens, pencil crayons, watercolour paints, pastels or a combination of more than one.  Depending on the theme certain methods are a better choice to create the desired results. If you would like the Name Art done in another medium contact me to discuss it as I may be able to tackle it!

I have decided on three levels/categories (I am still deciding on the terminology I want to use.)

The first category is “Freeform” in which the customer chooses one of six general themes:

  • Organic: will incorporate stylized forms of flowers, leaves, etc. in a flowing manner. See “Allison” for an example.
  • Sharp Edges: will incorporate angles, squares, and/or triangles, lines, etc.
  • Outer Space: will give the impression of stars, galaxies, planets, spaceships, etc., in a stylized manner.
  • Bubbles: will be predominately rounded shapes with shading, resembling bubbles.
  • Clouds: soft background giving the impression of clouds.
  • Swirls: Lots of swirls, curved lines, coils, flowing shapes.

And then they choose up to five colours to be used.  The rest is up to me – I start with the name based on the theme chosen, and the rest just happens!

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The second level is “Specific Font/Letter Style” where the customer tells me the font or style of lettering they want used.  I can use a pre-existing font, copy something from a title, etc.  whatever is desired.  Again, they can choose up to five colours to be used.  The background will be done to highlight and compliment the font and name.  See “Colin” for an example of this level using a popular video game style of letter.

Specific Font

And the third category is “Fully Customized” where the customer tells me the font/lettering style and can specify the background and/or a border design, and/or the inclusion of a character or figure to be included in the design.  See “Justin” below for a sample of this level using a Star Wars like font and character as his choices.

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Prices are based on size and complexity of the design.  If you would like more information on pricing check my Facebook page Shannon Fennell Art and message me for a price list.

If you are interested in something other than a name and with multiple words contact me to discuss.

All work is freehand – I don’t trace or transfer – so every single piece will be unique.

 


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I may be famous, maybe

I worked on a film in October for a local film challenge called the Frightening 48.  Teams of film makers signed up, then Friday night at 6 p.m. were given three specific things that HAD to be in the short (under seven minute) film:  a character, a prop and a line of dialogue.  Each team was given a different character but the prop and line were the same.

Then the teams had to write, plan, shoot, edit, and submit the finished film by 6 p.m. on Sunday night – in 48 hours.

The shooting took place starting at 6 a.m. on Saturday … in a graveyard (it was still the middle of the night here as dawn wasn’t until 8 a.m. or so).  Then we moved around town, on the streets, an old isolated farm house, a dive bar… etc.

Then the post-production crew pulled an all-nighter and through Sunday to get it done to drop off.

After the challenge, more scenes were shot to expand the film to a longer version which is being released for television.

It stars Gerald Auger (AMC’s Hell on Wheels) and lots of local talent.  Check the Facebook page of Bohemian Blood.

So, my point… the poster for the movie was just released… and they credited me ON THE POSTER!!

Bohemian Blood movie poster


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Making up things – food things

I’m an excellent cook.  Always have been – I was cooking meals at home when I was seven.  Mom figured if I wanted to cook she could get out of doing it herself.  After high school I did a year of pre-apprenticeship Chef training. Back then it was an industry full of misogynistic assh**es (at least the chefs I was exposed to were,) which put me right off wanting to make it my career.  I do not kiss anyone’s as*!

I even won a gold medal at a Grande Salon du Culinaire – in the Gateau category (edible sculpture).

For almost 30 years I was the designated family Christmas cook.

I don’t measure and I make things up as I go pretty much.  The exception to that is baking – you need to have the right measurements to have consistent results.  But for the rest, I just toss things in.

I watch cooking shows and look through cookbooks to get ideas.  If I am trying to replicate something exactly I will follow a recipe – like the sauce for Vietnamese Spring Rolls!  But generally I just want inspiration then check to see what I have on-hand then substitute as necessary.

I am still trying to master cooking for one – not very successfully.  I make something then eat it for 3-6 days in a row.

Yesterday’s creation was completely made up without anything triggering the idea.  I had grabbed a couple of chicken breasts out of the freezer thinking I might make a salad with them and the fresh lettuce I had from my farm delivery.

But then I thought… I could make a hot dip, hmm, that would be good.  So I had a look in my cupboards to see what I could throw in it as I did not want to spend time chopping or shredding.

It turned out so well that I want to share it.  Keep in mind I measured nothing so seasonings are pretty much going to be to YOUR taste if you try it and throw whatever else you want in it.

Hot Chicken Dip

Two cooked boneless skin-less chicken breasts, diced

One can of creamed corn

One can of cream soup – I used cream of mushroom and garlic, but it almost was cream of celery – any flavour will work

One small can of green chilies

Once small can of sliced black olives

About a quarter cup of real crumbled bacon (I buy it at Costco in the 1 kg bags – bacon goes on everything!)

About a quarter to half a cup of grated Parmesan cheese

About a half a cup of chopped or shredded cheddar cheese (and extra for topping)

Spices – this is where it got to be a free for all.  I used dried thyme (just a pinch), chili powder (maybe 1/4 tsp), paprika (couple shakes), black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper (just a dash!) – it tastes “Mexican” with this combo.  Don’t add any extra salt – the bacon, Parmesan, soup and chilies are all already salty.

Into a two-quart casserole I dumped the chicken and all the ingredients and stirred them together well.  Sprinkled some extra cheddar on top and put in the oven at 400F for about 30-40 minutes – until it was bubbling in the middle.  Then I turned on the broiler to brown it up a bit.

I ate it with whole grain tortilla chips and it was YUMMY!  It actually still is yummy as I am eating it for day two right now.  I just reheated it in the oven with more cheese!  Photos are from the reheat in a smaller dish.

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Chkn Dip 3

I think I will try a “Greek” version next time, leaving out the green chilies, using cream of celery, feta cheese, maybe some finely chopped green pepper, and oregano, dill, garlic and lemon for seasoning.  And chopped tomatoes added on top after it is cooked.  With pita chips.  Oh, that sounds really good!  I will have to take out some more chicken.


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Les Miserables

First week of Les Miserables is now history here in Grande Prairie… FOUR standing ovations!

This is an amazing production full of stunning talent and absolutely phenomenal performances.  If you are local, and enjoy music, you do NOT want to miss seeing this show.  Tickets are still available for some performances through Grande Prairie Live Theatre.

I am the Make-Up and Hair Coordinator/Designer for the production and with my crew of nine we are doing the hair and make-up for 60 cast members.  Cast members are also helping out when necessary – and I thank them all!

With a production of this size there are many changes throughout the show – chorus members play multiple roles that require make-up, hair and costume changes.  Beards on, dirty, then beards off, clean them up, then pretty them up, put on a wig, take off a wig, etc.  We have to keep some hair and make-up crew members available right to the end, and wait to get all the wigs back before we can leave.  Once the initial rush is over some of the make-up crew leaves and others take turns staying to the end (except me, I’m always there and Marg who takes care of hair and wigs.)

Here are some photos from the show taken by the producer at dress rehearsal (not in any particular order):

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And these were taken by Beauchamp Photography:

This one is the set as viewed from the balcony – way, way up.

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Master of the House…

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And these are my shots of make-up as we’ve been working – I have charts so the crew can follow what each actor needs done, so I take photos of each time so I can choose the best looks.

This is my initial make-up for Javert – I’ve since darkened up the aging to read better on stage (the lighting is “atmospheric” and we need more contrast for it to show):

javert progression

One of the convicts from the opening number… he has to quick change to be the Factory Foreman:

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Madame Thenardier – she doesn’t like having her teeth stained, that’s what that expression is about!

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Madame Thenardier all dolled up for the Wedding.  Her moles move about, never the same place twice.

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Some “lovely” ladies (I have to admit this is loads of fun…):

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Someone made a comment that the Lovely Ladies could be zombies too.  Yeah, I can see that.

The show runs until February 21st!