Fashionable Friday : Vintage Violet and the Happiness Weed


Paris fashion illustration: Violet and Vintage Dior with Fluffballs  © Shell-Sherree
{Fashion illustration: Violet and Vintage Dior in Paris  © Shell-Sherree}

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.  A purple weed foraged amongst foliage on my studio desk would not.  Most unfortunate.

Regardless of its rejection from the perfumer's arsenal, it is cheerful, humble and really rather lovely.  I'm sure the vase is at least half full.  And our thought for the day, even more so.  Always choose happiness.

Today's illustration rewinds us with a nod to vintage Dior and has me wondering where Agent Violet has got to.  So come, let us scoop up our skirts, sip medicinal brandy from our gold monogrammed hip flasks and ...oh.  Perhaps therein lies the problem.  And on that note ...

Happy Fashionable Friday to you !


Francophile Friday : Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité


Flowy and Frenchie fashion & fluffballs illustration © Shell-Sherree
{Flowy and Frenchie fashion & fluffballs illustration © Shell-Sherree}

Today's illustration of flowy, sweet goodness upholds my steadfast determination to shine the light of happiness, peace and love in the face of things that are ~ well, the opposite of that. Stubborn, I know. {Often, I've been told.} If I ever succumbed to a tattoo, it would most likely read, "Though she be but little, she is fierce," ~  though clearly not when it comes to the desire to have a tattoo.  Perhaps a nice tea towel instead ...

While I skate on the fluffy snow of my happy place and pray the ice below is thick, I believe from the top of my head to my pink-polished toes that we create more of what we focus on.  Do I always succeed in choosing wisely?  Nopedy-nope nope.  But I keep having a darn good crack at it.  {Let's hope the ice does not do the same.}

So come, let us talk of what makes our hearts soar and our boats float, and tap dance courageously in the face of banana skins.  Where there's a banana skin, there's a monkey.  And on that note ...

Happy Francophile Friday!


Francophile Friday : A Tale of Frenchies Cosette, Rue and mum Alexandra


{Rue & Cosette's Tea-Time in Paris custom illustration © Shell-Sherree}

Today's post continues our interview series where I chat with the mums behind the lens of gorgeous pups on Instagram.  Last week's Paris illustration included sweet French bulldogs Cosette and Rue of @cocoandkanga so let's meet their beautiful mom Alexandra!

Alexandra, Cosette & Rue of @cocoandkanga
{Alexandra, Cosette & Rue of @cocoandkanga}

Cosette and Rue are such little ladies, often photographed in their flowers, pearls and hats, taking tea and looking as if they are about to head off to church in their Sunday best!  So cute.  Do they have a larger wardrobe than yours and are you ever tempted to borrow from it?

Oh, absolutely! I hate shopping for me.  But shopping for Rue and Cosette is so much fun! Since it’s hard to find pet clothes that fit Rue, I’ve started having fun in the baby section at Target. I could spend hours going through onesies and dresses and hats! Every closet in the house now has a section for the dogs’ clothes!

If you could invite any three people {alive or past} to a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party along with your pups, who would they be and why?

Oh, my! I’ll have to think hard on this one. Well, I’m definitely inviting Frederic Chopin. Hopefully, he’ll talk all about his glorious music and perhaps even play if a piano is nearby! Fingers crossed! Next, I’ll invite William Shakespeare. It would be such an experience to discuss Romeo and Juliet over a cup of tea. And lastly… we’ll have to invite you, Shell! You’re such a fun, imaginative person. Who better to invite! Then we’ll have our favourite musician, our favourite writer, and our favourite artist. What an amazing 'Tea Time with Cosette' that would be!

Cosette and Rue @cocoandkanga being the little ladies they are
{Cosette and Rue @cocoandkanga being the little ladies they are}

Aww, aren't you gorgeous!  I’d be there with bells on and a piano in tow if needs be!  Our first custom project together was whisking Cosette and Rue away for an illustrated daydream in Paris.  Why is Paris so special to you? 

Oh, what can I say? Paris is … Paris. I think it’s the most beautiful city in the world. I’ve never been one of those people with a big desire to travel, but Paris, I want to visit one day. My mother and I  have been infatuated with her for as long as I can remember, and Rue and Cosette have grown that love. Rue was our first French bulldog. Then, when we got our second Frenchie puppy, my mother and I had no idea what to name her. We threw names around for days. Olive… Minnie… Nothing seemed right. Then, we watched Les Miserables when it premiered on HBO. By the end, we had a name for our puppy: Cosette.  It was so beautiful. And it was French. It was perfect.    

It's very pretty!  I was touched when you also asked me to create a memento of the love between Cosette and your grandma.  When did you first notice their special bond?

Right away! Before we got Cosette, my grandmother got very ill and was in the ICU for a long time.  We still thank God every day that she’s with us now, recovered. But when she was sick, it was a very difficult time. We got Cosette to bring some much needed happiness into our lives. By then, my grandma had been home from the hospital for some time, but she was still having some issues. Every Monday night my mother, grandmother, and I would run weekly errands together. The first Monday with Cosette, we didn’t want to leave her home with the rest of the dogs. So we put her in the back seat with my grandma. And that was the beginning of it. Cosette never stays home on Monday nights with the rest of the dogs! She comes along and rides in the backseat with Grandma, who stays in the car and cuddles with Cosette while we do the shopping. We have dinner at my grandmother’s house often, and Cosette will scratch my legs until I put her on my grandma’s lap. It’s her favourite place to be. She just gazes up at her with this look of sheer adoration. She’s never looked at anyone else like that. To tell you the truth, I’m a bit jealous! They love each other SO much! It’s really a very sweet thing to be able to witness.

Cosette Loves Grammy Loves Cosette custom illustration © Shell-Sherree
{Cosette Loves Grammy Loves Cosette custom illustration © Shell-Sherree}

You have a beautiful gift for storytelling in your Instagram captions.  I was misty-eyed reading your post about how Rue came to live with you.  Could you share that here?

I would love to! My neighbour introduced me to a woman who needed somebody to tend to her Frenchie puppy in her house a few days a week while she was at work. I happily volunteered. When I first opened the door to her house. I was greeted by this crazy energetic puppy who had a really tiny body and really humongous ears!! She was the cutest thing I had ever seen! Her name was Babe. I remember thinking that that wasn’t the name I would have given her. After I fed her and let her out, I would always play with Babe. My mother came with me and she sat on the couch, holding her in her arms like a baby. It was so precious, and so hard to put her back in her kennel and walk away. She would watch us go with such sad eyes and we always looked forward to seeing her again. One day, we walked in to find a note from Babe’s owner, saying her young son and Babe weren’t getting along well and that adopting Babe hadn’t been what she’d expected. She was going to sell Babe. I looked up at my mother and said, “The only person she’s selling her to is us.” When we went over to take Babe home, I remember thinking it would be the last time she would ever have to sit in that kennel all day and stare at the door, waiting for someone to open it. Instead, we would shower her with love. With her huge ears and the way she jumped up and down excitedly, she reminded us of a kangaroo! But we wanted to rename her something more feminine than Roo. So we took a hint from The Hunger Games and spelled it R-U-E. We love our Kanga-Rue so much! She has the best personality ever! My mother and I both love our “Kanga cuddles” so much! And since I don’t know any people who are more loving or more loyal than her … well, she’s pretty special.

While Cosette and Rue are your pups with their own Instagram account, they have two more sisters, Daisy and Emme.  That's a handful !  Did they all settle in together quickly or were there 'teething' times? 

When we brought Rue home, we had Emme, Daisy, and our late Boston Terrier, Bella. After Bella passed away, we got Cosette. Rue drove Emme and Daisy crazy before we got Cosette. They were like, “we’re too mature for your puppy antics.” When we brought home Cosette, Rue finally had a friend she could wrestle with and play with all day long. They are best friends. I wish I could say all four dogs get along perfectly. But if you have more than two dogs, it becomes a pack, and sometimes there’s tension over who is alpha. Like real sisters, though, they’ll snap at each other and then a minute later they’ll be playing together and cuddling. Every dog we’ve ever had has been involved in a pack scuffle at least once except Cosette. She’s so sweet! Our little Coco is like “screw instincts,” and she runs out of the room until everyone’s calmed down. Sometimes, they make me want to rip my hair out. But it’s such a joy to be able to take care of them all. They each have such unique and wonderful personalities. Every day my dogs amaze me.

Rue, Cosette, Daisy and Emme @cocoandkanga
Rue, Cosette, Daisy and Emme @cocoandkanga 

Along with your pups, what are your other big loves in life?

Well after the pups have been fed and played with and are taking their first of twenty naps, I like to play the piano. I’ve been playing for 11 years now, mainly classical, hence my earlier tea invitation to Frederic Chopin. But I also dabble in a little pop. Chopin is undoubtedly my favorite composer. I recently played his Polonaise in A flat at a recital. I almost had a nervous breakdown over playing it because I think it may be the most difficult piece ever—or at least the most difficult piece that I can actually play. Haha…

It's a mammoth of a work ~ you're very courageous!  If you could open your cupboard and put on an Abilities Suit and be whatever you wanted to be in the whole wide world, what’s the first thing you’d try on and why?

Oh my… This is definitely the hardest question of them all… I feel if I truly had such a suit it would be expected of me to become something amazing or magical so I could help the world. And I'm afraid I don't really imagine becoming something amazing or magical.  That doesn’t really appeal to me very much. The only thing I ever dream about {and have for as long as I remember} is being a writer. It’s funny because after school work, piano practice and taking care of the dogs, it’s hard to find time for writing which is my favourite thing to do in life. Nevertheless, I think about things I want to write every day. So if I had an Abilities Suit right now, I would want to be a writer with the ability and time to write down every story that’s ever been inside my head. And I would want these stories to greatly influence people and change their lives for the better! I think writers are the best teachers in the world. And they can keep on teaching even after they die because their words live on after they’re gone. That’s why I want to be a writer so badly. And it would definitely be nice to have an Abilities Suit to help me along!

Your Instagram for Cosette and Rue is already something that changes lives for the better with its humble warmth and delight!  You have a great start with your writing there.  Can I give you a challenge and ask you to sum up Cosette and Rue in three words each?

Oh, this is a tricky one. I hope I can do them justice. Here goes.

Rue: loving, fun, loyal….
Cosette: sweet, shy, caring…

And both adorable!  Thank you so much, dear Alexandra.  You and your pups are a joy.

You can follow the ongoing adventures of @cocoandkanga here.  And on that note ....

Happy Frenchie Friday to you!

Francophile Friday : Au Nom de la Rose with a Frenchie Reprise


Au Nom de la Rose Paris and Frenchies Love illustration © Shell-Sherree
{Au Nom de la Rose Paris and Frenchies Love illustration © Shell-Sherree}

With my penchant for petals, anyone would think I'd love to be a lady in a flower shop.  Ah, how peaceful that sounds.  Gladly, a hayfever sufferer I do not be.

Today's illustration whisks us away to Au Nom de la Rose in Paris.  It's not the first time we've visited but last time, there was a notable and regrettable absence of four-legged fluffballs.  It's time to make amends.  And better yet: it's allergy-free!

Voici, fetching French bulldog siblings Rue and Cosette of @cocoandkanga {their lovely mum is one of my most prolific customers} are enjoying people watching from their perch while we take a casual approach to the wardrobe and a pair of scissors to our jeans.  Feel free to join us.  And on that note ...

Happy Francophile Friday to you!

Francophile Friday : Paris Cuddles Au Casuale


Paris Au Casuale Kitty Cuddles & Frenchie illlustration © Shell-Sherree
{Paris Au Casuale Kitty Cuddles & Frenchie illustration © Shell-Sherree}

Today I'll have more luck making a peach cobbler than cobbling words together for a post.  {I don't know how to make a peach cobbler.}  So I'll let this pretty Paris picture compensate for the lack of a thousand words.

It comes complete with barefooted au casuale attire, kitty cuddles and a sweet French bulldog to spread the snuggle love around.  Hugs make every day better.  And on that note ...

Happy Francophile Friday to you.

PS:  Please search #TheCompassionProject and spread the word to help save animals from the atrocities of the Yulin Festival.  Please find out more here about Marc Ching's tireless work via Animal Hope & Wellness, donate here and sign the Humane Society International petition here.  Bless your fuzzy heart.  Thank you.

Fashionable Friday : Audrey's Roman Holiday


Audrey's Roman Cat Holiday fashion & fluffballs illustration © Shell-Sherree
{Audrey's Roman Cat Holiday fashion & fluffballs illustration © Shell-Sherree}

When in Rome, do as Romans do.  Or Audrey Hepburn.  I know which I'd pick.

Today's fashion & fluffballs illustration is inspired by Roman Holiday, a romantic comedy starring Gregory Peck and Audrey in her first film role.  A timeless classic blessedly conceived before the term romcom was coined, though if Audrey and Gregory had been an item, it might have rather lovely seeing photos of Peckburn out and about on the town.

When doing my scant research in an endeavour to earn my librarianish spectacles, I happened upon this very adorable clip on YouTube showing Audrey's first screen test for Roman Holiday, along with a commentary describing her fetching charms.  How true it was.  

So come, let us choose our respectively favourite gelato by the Spanish Steps, wander further askance to toss three coins in a fountain ~ and mix movies along with our metaphors.  And on that note ...

Happy Fashionable Friday to you!

Fairytale Friday: Angela, Mia Pomeranian & a Love Story


@MiaPomeranian and Angela's Fairytale custom illustration © Shell-Sherree
{@MiaPomeranian and Angela's Fairytale Fashion & Fluffballs custom illustration © Shell-Sherree}

Hands up if you're one of the gazillions following adorable animals on Instagram. {Me, too!}  Hours vanish in minutes and even mentions of puppy poo take on certain quirky charm.  {And poo and I are not friends, trust me!}  But behind every gorgeous Instadog and cat, there is a smitten pawrent, and today, I thought it would be fun to chat with one of the lovely mamarazzi behind the lens: mum Angela of @miapomeranian.

Angela engaged me to create a custom illustration ~ a memento that celebrated her special day and included her gorgeous pom Mia, who couldn't be there in real life because their wedding was in Disneyland {Orlando}! I only learned afterwards that their fairytale nuptials were part of the Good Morning America 'Wide World of Weddings' so it's a bonus that we can score an inside look behind that, too.

I had a beautiful time coming up with this illustration for you, thank you!  You gave me a lovely clear brief and free rein as well.  One of your 'must haves' was a reference to the Sleeping Beauty castle.  It conveys love and romance in a single glance, so it was a perfect fit!  Was the castle the reason you fell in love with Disney World in the first place? 

Disney is MAGICAL! Ever since I was a little girl, I have always wanted a Disney wedding, and never thought it would actually happen! My hubby and I have been together for almost 11 years, since High School, and coincidentally, we talked about getting married at Disneyworld when we were about 17! Who would have thought that dream would actually come to fruition?! The whole experience with Disney was wonderful.  Easy to plan ~ it felt like a true fairytale! I even got stopped by a few little girls whilst wearing my wedding gown who actually thought I was a Disney princess!

No wonder!  You're a beautiful couple, and your gown was very pretty ~ so lovely to draw.  Since the wedding, I’ve had visions of you on a roller coaster and whirling around in teacups!  Did you take your wedding gown for a spin on any rides?

YES! I am so glad you asked! We chose to do a Magic Kingdom photo shoot, where we got to get on the carousel and take a spin on the teacups! It was so much fun!

Photo credit © Disney Fine Art Photography & Video
Angela and Andrew take the carousel for a spin.  Photo credit © Disney Fine Art Photography & Video 

Photo credit © Disney Fine Art Photography & Video
Angela and Andrew with the best cup of tea they've ever had.  Photo credit © Disney Fine Art Photography & Video 

How did it come about that your wedding was part of the Good Morning America ‘Wide World of Weddings’?

It was such a random occurrence! My wedding planner at Disney called me the week before to ask my hubby and me if we would be okay with our wedding being broadcast on GMA, and of course we said “YES!” It worked out so wonderfully, as there were guests who could not make it to Florida and got to watch the wedding as it was streamed live! We did not know that Joey Fatone, former NSYNC band member and GMA correspondent, would attend the wedding until minutes before! It was all such a whirlwind!!

Did it change anything about the way you planned the day?

Not at all! I will say, it may have made my hubby and I a bit more nervous knowing we were being filmed, and that Joey Fatone was attending our wedding!

I love your gorgeous Mia !  It must have been so hard not having her with you for the wedding ceremony  ….  was it ever a possibility? 

Unfortunately, they did not allow dogs in the wedding venue, and while we could have taken her for our outdoor photos, my hubby and I felt it was unfair to fly her across the country for her to not be able to attend the wedding, much less all of the time she would spend in doggy daycare while we were traipsing around the theme parks! However, when we got back to Texas, we had a huge wedding reception for everyone who could not travel to Disney World, which Mia attended. I even bought a fancy white lace dress for her to wear! She was the hit of the party!

Angela, Andrew and Mia celebrate at their special reception.  Photo courtesy of @MiaPomeranian
Angela, Andrew and Mia celebrate at their special reception.  Photo courtesy of @MiaPomeranian
I'll bet she was! If you could single out one moment in the day when you missed her most, when would that be?

It is so hard to single out just one, but I would say - at the end of the ceremony when we were announced as husband and wife, I wish we could have each given her a quick kiss on the cheek as we were exiting the chapel!

Did you bring Mia a ‘kiss and make up gift’ from your travels?

Yes! Disney actually has a line for dogs, and she loves squeaky toys, so we brought her a squeaky yellow Mickey shoe toy, which she loves!

What essentials do you carry around in Mia’s tote bag when you’re out and about with her?

I definitely have to carry her treats (while she is wonderful, sometimes she can get whiney and treats focus her, hehe), her portable water bowl (especially in this southern heat), potty bags, and her favourite squeaky toy!

If Mia was ever stranded on a desert island (perish the thought!) and you could parachute-drop three foods plus a favourite singer to amuse her until her rescue, what and who would they be?

Her favorite three foods would be carrots, chicken, and cookies, and I would love to think she would want to listen to me sing – I sing children’s songs to her all of the time. Hehe.

How would you sum up Mia in three words?

Fabulous, Feisty, and Loving

I'd say those describe you perfectly, too!  Thanks so much, Angela.  It's been a pleasure from start to happy ever after! 

You can follow Mia the Pomeranian's adventures here.  Instant smile on your dial, promise!  And on that note ...

Happy Fairytale Friday to you!

© Disney Fine Art Photography & Video
Angela and Andrew, happy ever after. Photo credit © Disney Fine Art Photography & Video 


Francophile Friday : Paris, Baguettes et Bicyclettes


Paris Patisserie, Pink Bicyclette and Baguettes illustration © Shell-Sherree
{Paris Patisserie, Pink Bicyclette and Baguettes illustration © Shell-Sherree}

With the timing of today's illustration, I could be accused of fiddling in Nero-esque denial with my brushes while Paris is awash with the Seine, not watercolours.

But Chez Shell, we are dedicated to providing a happy respite from the worries of the world.   So it's a typical pastel day here, with no need to strap Floaties® onto our rose-coloured bicyclettes and crusty baguettes.  And after all, tomorrow is another day.

So come, let us stop to smell the narcissus, graze ourselves up a belt notch and wonder which Pantone shade would be perfect for our Malvern Stars. And on that note ...

Happy Francophile Friday to you !

PS:  Don't risk doing a 'Boo and Pistol' by smuggling your furry loved ones onto a plane.  Let me send them safely to Paris or any other dream destination with a priceless memento that will last forever and requires no vaccinations ! Please cliquer ici to request more info.
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