Sep 21, 15


Name: Ashton Shaw Despot

Hometown: Born and raised in Lafayette, Louisiana.



Favorite Restaurant: I currently live in New Orleans and would recommend Jacques-Imo’s as my favorite local restaurant. The atmosphere is casual and eclectic with delicious southern style cuisine.

Best place to travel: My favorite place I have traveled to is Ireland. I studied for a month at the Burren College of Art and Design and loved every second of it. It was absolutely magical.



Favorite Cocktail: Martini with extra olives.


Collectable Item: I collect pretty coffee table books. I absolutely love pictures and vibrant colors.


What is your favorite item to cook? What is the recipe for it? My favorite thing to cook is spaghetti and meatballs. I have an amazing recipe for real Italian meatballs that’s to die for. I am not sharing my secret recipe though.

Favorite Book: My favorite book is the Harry Potter series. I just love the fantasy and whimsy.


Most influential person in your artistic career: Michael Crespo, a college professor and most talented artist himself was the most influential person in my artistic career. He taught me to not be afraid, push the limits, and always be curious. He was also extremely kind and taught me now to love the process and love the life we live.

Favorite quote: “Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart” -Confucius

Studio Location: My studio is located in Uptown New Orleans, 4524 Magazine Street. I have door on Magazine Street that leads to a charming studio upstairs. My favorite part of the studio is the two front windows, which let in natural northern light.

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Object or thing people ask about when they visit your studio : People usually ask about my hanging system when they walk into my studio, or I tell them about it as we are talking because I am so very proud of it. Carl Dautreuil with Dautreuil Framing built this beautiful system for me and it is a total game changer. It is basically a fancy peg board with movable pegs. It helps to make hanging, moving and working so much easier.


At what moment did you realize you wanted to be a full time artist?
I realized I wanted to become a full time artist when I was studying in Ireland. It was the first time I had my own studio space that I could be completely free and messy.


What inspires you? I am inspired by daily by colors, sights and sounds. I am fascinated by the world around me and always look for new compositions or combinations of colors in everyday events. I also inspired my light and how it plays such an important role in nature. I studying tree, clouds and all natural forms.  I find inspiration through pictures, books, magazines, instagram, pinterest, fabrics, beautifully designed interiors, and architectural details! Basically I am always on the look out anything that might catch my eye or spark my interest. I take a ton of pictures and screen shots! Then I used these to create concept boards and organize new ideas.

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What influences your work? My work is influenced by my experiences and situtations I am either currently going through or have been through in the past. You may noticed touches of graphic elements in my work, as I studied graphic design in college and often find my self drawn to simplistic modern forms. I also currently work in Interior Design find that my color choices are often reflections of fabrics or rooms where I find color to be interesting. I love impressionism and try to mimic a modern twist to an impressionistic landscape within my work.

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Do you ever get creatively stuck? How do you unblock your creativity? Oh of course I get creatively stuck. Every artist does. The best way I have found to unblock myself is to pull out some blank canvases and start painting back ground colors and adding washes to pieces. I like to try new things and experiment when I am stuck too. Never take your self too seriously and always have fun. This frees up my mind and gives me a chance to let go. Best just to push through creative blocks. Like life your work will be cyclical, always going through ups and downs but the best way to make it through is just to keep going.


What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist? If I wasn’t an artist I would love to be an architect or an interior designer!! But if we are getting real crazy maybe I would say a vet!




Sep 16, 15

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We had a great turn out for Charlotte local artist Marcy Gregg’s Expressions of Joy show despite the weather.  With over 40 abstract pieces it was beautiful to see the gallery’s first solo show filled with family and friends familiar with Marcy’s story of painting.  If you don’t receive emails about our events please sign up on our website, www.anneneilsonfineart.com and make sure you follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

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Featured artist Marcy Gregg and gallery owner, Anne Neilson.Marcy Gregg-3690

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Marcy Gregg-3841Featured artist Marcy Gregg with husband Dev, their three children, her mother and her sister.


Up Close and Personal with Marcy Gregg

Sep 1, 15


Name: Marcy Gregg

Hometown: Jasper, Texas, it’s a small town in southeast Texas.

Best Place to Travel To:  My husband and I just returned from seven days in Harbour Island. We were there with very special friends.  Today, I would say, Harbour Island.



Favorite item to cook: I love to cook my Mom’s famous apple pie.  Served hot…it doesn’t last long!


Favorite Book: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.


Who is the most influential person in your artistic career?  I believe that initially I was influenced by my aunt who is an artist. I greatly admire her and her work.  When I returned to painting in the early to mid  2000’s, Andy Braitman played a large role in putting me back in front of the canvas. I was in his Artist-in-Residence program and during this time, he shared his great wisdom with me.

Studio Location:  The Dilworth Artisan Station 118 East Kingston Ave. Charlotte, NC.


Object or thing people ask about when they visit your studio:  People want to know what I do with my palette knife when they see it.



Favorite Bible Scripture: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

At what moment did you realize you wanted to be a full time artist? In 2006 I sold my corporate consulting business and soon after that, began to paint again. Once I got back in the studio and started painting, I knew I couldn’t just “play” with art. I had to do it all the time. The more I painted the more I wanted to paint. I decided to take the jump to go for it.  I have never looked back.


What inspires you? I am really stimulated outside of my studio. I would have to say serving at the Harvest Center.  My husband and I go there each Tuesday morning and serve breakfast and share the gospel.  We go there to give back but we receive so more than we could ever give. You never leave there the same.


Do you ever get creatively stuck and how do you unblock your creativity? Sure I get stuck, sometimes a simple walk will clear my head.  Sometimes I go and take photographs. After I get several good photos, I head back to the computer and edit them.  I often find treasures that are hidden within the images, then I am excited to get back in front of the canvas.


What influences your work?  As an abstract artist, I am totally in awe of the color and shapes that I see all around me.


What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist? If I weren’t an artist, I would be sad.  No, really, I love what I do.


What else would you like us to know?  I majored in Studio Art at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, Texas.



Aug 26, 15

Wanted to give a big shout out to all the people who participated in our back to school drive.  We partnered with All We Want is Love as a drop off location for The Battered Women’s Center of Charlotte.  With over 100 children in the shelter the week that school started we thought it was a good idea to give 10% off all original artwork in exchange for school supplies.  Since Anne and I have both been teachers we can relate to the importance of education in our society.  It breaks my hear to hear that the Battered Woman’s Shelter has over 100 children that are going to school the next day with very little.  Please stay in touch with us on Facebook or Instagram to keep in touch about the organizations we are giving back to.



Up Close and Personal With Joel Penkman

Aug 14, 15


Name: Joël Penkman

Hometown: Right now I live in Liverpool, England


Recommended Restaurant: The Baltic Bakery makes the most fantastic sourdough bread and is great for breakfast, brunch or lunch. We don’t really eat out much as we love to make our own delicious food.

Favorite Place to Travel to:  There are too many beautiful places. Morton Island, a small sand island off Australia’s Queensland coast was really special and nearly deserted.




Favorite Book:  Wuthering Heights


Favorite Cocktail: We make a yummy red currant shrub cocktail from our homegrown berries.


What is your favorite item to cook? What is the recipe for it? Right now I love baking bread!


Sourdough loaf (Adapted from Tartine’s Country Bread)

¥ 1000 grams white-bread flour
¥ 1000 grams whole-wheat flour
¥ 200 grams leaven
¥ 700ml + 50ml water
¥ 1000 grams white-bread flour
¥ 20 grams fine sea salt

Make the starter: Combine 1,000 grams white-bread flour with 1,000 grams whole-wheat flour. Put 100 grams of warm water (about 80°F) in a small jar or container and add 100 grams of the flour mix. Use your fingers to mix until thoroughly combined and the mixture is the consistency of thick batter. Cover with a towel and let sit at room temperature until mixture begins to bubble and puff, 2 to 3 days.

When starter begins to show signs of activity, begin regular feedings. Keep the starter at room temperature, and at the same time each day discard 80 percent of the starter and feed remaining starter with equal parts warm water and white-wheat flour mix (50 grams of each is fine). When starter begins to rise and fall predictably and takes on a slightly sour smell, it’s ready; this should take about 1 week.(Reserve remaining flour mix for leaven.)

Make the leaven: The night before baking, discard all but 1 tablespoon of the mature starter. Mix the remaining starter with 200 grams of warm water and stir with your hand to disperse. Add 200 grams of the white-wheat flour mix and combine well. Cover with a towel and let rest at room temperature for 12 hours or until aerated and puffed in appearance. To test for readiness, drop a tablespoon of leaven into a bowl of room-temperature water; if it floats it’s ready to use. If it doesn’t, allow more time to ferment.

Make the dough: In a large bowl, combine 200 grams of leaven with 700 grams of warm water and stir to disperse. (Reserve remaining leaven for future loaves; see note below.)

Add 1000 grams of white-bread flour to bowl and use your hands to mix until no traces of dry flour remain. The dough will be sticky and ragged. Cover bowl with a towel and let dough rest for 25 to 40 minutes at room temperature.

Add 20 grams fine sea salt and 50 grams warm water. Use hands to integrate salt and water into dough thoroughly. The dough will begin to pull apart, but continue mixing; it will come back together.

Cover dough with a towel and transfer to a warm environment, 75-80°F ideally (like near a window in a sunny room, or inside a turned-off oven). Let dough rise for 30 minutes. Fold dough by dipping hand in water, taking hold of the underside of the dough at one quadrant and stretching it up over the rest of the dough. Repeat this action 3 more times, rotating bowl a quarter turn for each fold. Do this every half-hour for 2 1/2 hours more (3 hours total). The dough should be billowy and increase in volume 20 to 30 percent. If not, continue to let rise and fold for up to an hour more.

Transfer dough to a work surface and dust top with flour. Use a dough scraper to cut dough into 2 equal pieces and flip them over so floured sides are face down. Fold the cut side of each piece up onto itself so the flour on the surface remains entirely on the outside of the loaf; this will become the crust. Work dough into taut rounds. Place the dough rounds on a work surface, cover with a towel, and let rest 30 minutes.

Line two 10- to 12-inch bread-proofing baskets or mixing bowls lined with towels. Generously flour the proving baskets or towels so the bread won’t stick.

Dust rounds with flour. Use a dough scraper to flip them over onto a work surface so floured sides are facing down. Take one round, and starting at the side closest to you, pull the bottom 2 corners of the dough down toward you, then fold them up into the middle third of the dough. Repeat this action on the right and left sides, pulling the edges out and folding them in over the center. Finally, lift the top corners up and fold down over previous folds. (Imagine folding a piece of paper in on itself from all 4 sides.) Roll dough over so the folded side becomes the bottom of the loaf. Shape into a smooth, taut ball. Repeat with other round.

Transfer rounds, seam-side up, to prepared baskets. Cover with a towel and return dough to the 75- to 80-degree environment for 3 to 4 hours. (Or let dough rise for 10 to 12 hours in the refrigerator. Bring back to room temperature before baking.)
20 minutes before baking, place a Dutch oven or lidded cast-iron pot in the oven and heat it to 500°F. Dust tops of dough, still in their baskets, with whole-wheat/rice-flour mixture. Very carefully remove heated pot from oven and gently turn 1 loaf into pan seam-side down. Use a razor blade to score the top of the bread a few times to allow for expansion, cover and transfer to oven. Reduce temperature to 450°F and cook for 20 minutes. Remove lid and cook for 15 – 20 more minutes or until crust is a rich, golden brown color.

Transfer bread to a wire rack to cool for at least 15 minutes before slicing. The bottom of the loaf should sound hollow when tapped. Return the pot to the oven and increase the temperature to 500°F for 10minutes. Reduce temperature to 450°F and repeat this process with the second loaf.



Most influential person in your artistic career:  My husband James for his emotional and financial support when I made the career change.

Studio Location: I share a loft studio with my husband at our home.


Object people ask about when they visit your studio: People seem most interested in the gesso boards which I paint onto. I think because they are unusual – a lot of work goes into making them, they look like porcelain tiles.


What is your favorite quote and who is it by?  My mother told me I should always try and be the best person I can be.

What inspires you?  Inspiration comes from my present and past surroundings and experience.  I choose familiar subjects, then look at colour, shape, texture, and also association for inspiration.

When you get creatively stuck how do you unblock your creativity? Sometimes its good to take a break and look at what other people have created, in books, online, galleries, museums, libraries.


What influences your work?  I was a graphic designer for 8 years before I began painting in my current style, I think you can see this in my layout, choice of subject matter and brushwork.


What moment did you realize you wanted to be a full time artist?  It wasn’t a moment but a slow realization that I could make a little money from this, it could be my career and being happy in your job was very important.


What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist?  I nearly trained as an architect, that would still be good.


Blackberry Farm: Artist In Residence

Aug 7, 15

One week ago today, my husband and I (and our two middle girls) traveled to Blackberry Farm where I was invited as a special guest – Artist in Residence.

IMG_8008This was the blurb for their event calendar, The 2015  Blackberry Year : The newest edition of our yearly almanac showcases returning and exciting new events featuring the nation’s hottest chefs, innovative winemakers, GRAMMY award-winning artists, talented artisans and top athletes. Names so big, you’ll just have to read it to see them – plus up-and-comers so talented you’ll want to be in the know!

I was humbled to say the least to have been invited to share my art and my story: Painting with a Purpose and to have spent some quality time with Blackberry owner Kreis Beall.



IMG_8334The scenery is stunning. Situated on a pastoral 9,200-acre estate in the Great Smoky Mountains you feel like you have stepped into heaven.  The peace. The tranquility.  I woke up Saturday morning to the sunrise just praising GOD for the journey He has me on. As a wife, a mother, an artist, an employer and friend.  It has not been all glamorous as some would think.  Just like the bumpy, gravel, winding road leading to Blackberry Farm, my life has been just that. But even in the midst of twists and turns and the bumps in my path, I cling to a God who’s promises are true. He will guide every step along the way and He will bring me that peace that passes all understanding.




It was an incredible weekend and I was blessed beyond!



Local Missionary Serving Asia

Aug 3, 15


If you could live anywhere in the world, regardless of money or travel time, where would you go? Growing up, Ashley always had the same answer for this question: Charlotte, NC. A Queen City girl through and through, she could imagine nothing better than years of rooting on the Panthers and the Hornets, attending Greek Fest, and experiencing the beauty of four Carolina seasons every year.

When she visited Ethiopia the summer after high school, she was the most surprised of anyone to discover that God was calling her to live life overseas. She realized that there were people in the world who had never even heard of Jesus, and she knew she wanted to be part of telling them how much Hope and Love and Goodness He had to offer, even if it meant being far from home. After finishing school, she lived in Tanzania for a year, sharing Christ with villagers near the Indian Ocean. Now, she is committed to moving to Asia to share life with a group of people who have no idea that they are made in the image of God, who loves them more passionately than they could imagine.

We are honored to support Ashley in her missions and we hope you will join us in lifting her up in prayer and through financial gifts.




Jul 22, 15

When local artist Adrian Chu Redmond told me she was heading to France, Spain, and Greece this summer, naturally I was jealous.  Then she told me she was hiking 700 miles and I was no longer jealous but a little worried why she would do that to herself.  After seeing pictures of her trip hiking the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage from France to Spain I can now see why one would choose to do this excursion and hopefully someday I will as well.    IMG_1403

“Travelers, there is no path, paths are made by walking.” – Antonio Machado


As the Spanish poet suggests, we make our paths in life by paving our own way. Hence, my decision to take the spiritual journey on the ROAD TO SANTIAGO this past June. The El Camino de Santiago de Compostela (The Way of St. James) commences in St. Jean Pied de Port (French Pyrenees) and travels 700 kilometers to the Spanish city of Santiago where it is believed that the ornate granite cathedral there houses the remains of the Apostle, St. James.




This ancient Christian pilgrimage, which dates back to the 11th century, offers a modern day retreat that provides an opportunity for spiritual growth while walking for weeks on foreign land. With the mountainous terrain, aggressive distance, a 22lb backpack, and blistered feet, I found inner strength to push ahead and embrace the mental and physical challenges of the unknown road ahead.


For me, living out of a backpack, hiking the beautiful Spanish countryside and walking through small hamlets with pilgrims from around the world has taught me much about myself while providing an adventure away from the bustle of day to day life.


Each pilgrim’s walking journey culminates at the magnificent cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. All pilgrims, regardless of their religious affiliations or beliefs, share in a most special Mass. The message of the celebrant’s homily focused on art and painting as a metaphor for our life’s journey. We cannot live our life as a blank canvas. We must celebrate life by embracing both light and darkness, bright and subdued, for it is only in the contrasts that we can truly appreciate the colors.

As an artist the message was clear.

There are valuable lessons to be learned on the Camino:

  • Take time to pause – You can’t appreciate the present if you are not in it.
  • Trust yourself – It is important to honor and trust in one’s self. This allows you to be confident in anything you choose to do.
  • Be open- This is where there can be a never-ending supply of what one searches for or needs- love, energy, support, guidance, learning, nurturing, etc.
  • Share yourself- Give freely of your time, your heart, your wisdom and your hopes.
  • Believe in what you do and you will do it better.
  • And most of all, IN EVERYTHING GIVE THANKS!


Buen Camino,
Adrian Chu Redmond




Jul 9, 15


Name: Lisa Moore with her son Jake below.

Jake and I

Best Restaurant in Atlanta: I love Lure in Midtown…


or The Original El Taco in Virginia Highlands.


Travel get away: I LOVE LOVE LOVE Rome Italy!


Cocktail of Choice: Moscow Mule – Ginger beer, vodka, and lime.


Best Recipe:  My special brownies. I use two pkgs of Giradelli triple fudge, 3 eggs, follow directions for double oil and water, add pecans and butterscotch chips. Cook at 325 degrees for 50 minutes. Best thing to put in your mouth!


Favorite Book: The Stand by Stephen King and The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge.fifth-discipline

Favorite Quote: “To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”  
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Most Influential Person:

I do not have one person who has influenced my career. I have people who have in their own way given me tidbits to move forward on my path. My mother first and foremost. She has always allowed free expression even when she did not like it. I am not talking about being disrespectful but she promoted an environment where I was allowed to challenge everything and make my own sense of what is truth.


My brother, my Mother and I.

Original Little Rascals

The original Little Rascals.  I am the one with one shoe on, no shirt, and a yellow hat.  Just shows how she let me be free and never restricted my creativity.

My good friend and fellow painter Clara Blalock- Clara quietly asked me one day when I was splitting my time in the non-profit world and painting… “Well, are you going to be a painter or not because you can’t be both” She was right. That little honest question gave me permission/courage to let go and focus on the work.


Probably the most influential person in how I approach my work is someone I do not even remember her name. I saw this woman speak at a System’s Thinking conference in Boston. She had less experience in my field at that time than I did, she had less success in changing organizations or improving quality in healthcare than I did however she had taken the time to “ show up” , submit her paper and there she was a featured expert. I was 28 and that lesson is one of the most influential lessons of my life. Show up! Put yourself and your work out there! There is always someone more talented than you but you never have to let someone outwork you. So I approach painting that way. There are many many many more talented artists than me but I will show up and work and work and work and from that effort, my work will improve and I will be successful.

What inspires you? Beauty.  I am inspired by the beauty within the familiar. The feeling of love and joy in watching children at play or the history written on the peeling surface of a forgotten barn, beauty in form, beauty in joy, beauty in a graceful animal or landscape.  My hope is through my art, viewers will tap into the emotions of comfort and joy that stem from the simple things of everyday life like holding a child’s hand or feeling the warmth of an animal. We are bombarded with images of the ugly in our world.  My hope is that my paintings can provide a respite from the negative, so we can all maintain our perspective of how truly blessed we are.



Studio Location: My studio is in Chamblee, GA.

Most asked about object in your studio: The garage door. “Do you open the door when you work? The trains are so cool!”



Daily Inspiration: My routine.  It takes about an hour of looking, mixing paint switching canvases to find the right composition to get my flow. I do get stuck but I push through. I paint almost everyday even when I am not inspired. The flow will come but I have to push through the block.

Down South 54x60

Do you get stuck creatively? YES!!! All the time then I make myself look at this video of Jack White discussing the use of restriction and creativity. I create deadlines to force creativity, I restrict my palette. I make myself work. Procrastination is the killer of creativity. I try to learn from creative people in general, not just other painters, about their process what makes them a success etc… . I try to follow this philosophy. Hard work alone will beat talent alone 100% of the time but talent plus hard work are unstoppable.



Moment you wanted to be a full-time artist:  I had taken a fulltime position as the strategic planner and organizational Coach for a large school system after a 4 year hiatus to raise my son. We were all miserable. I had no flexibility, my child was having to stay in day care until late everyday . My husband was losing money because he was taking off to care for our child. In the meantime, my work began to sell and was being leased by movie sets etc… It was like God had a huge bat and was hitting me saying “NOOO not this!!!” go do that!!”So, I made the leap. Everything in my life was directing me to be a fulltime painter. I just knew it would work out. It was scary letting go of the big salary and benefits but I knew it would be ok and it was the right thing for me. I was 43 years old and I have never looked back.


What would you do if you were not an artist? I have no other option right now. Yes I have degrees in other areas. I have 20 years of experience consulting and working in the corporate world but I am now in a place where I want and choose “this” life. So, there is no other option for me. I will do whatever it takes to be the kind of painter I want to be until I am given another direction to follow.



Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 – A Time for Everything

Jun 26, 15

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 – A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything,

and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,

a time to plant and a time to uproot

a time to kill and a time to heal,

a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh,

a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

a time to search and a time to give up,

a time to keep and a time to throw away,

a time to tear and a time to mend,

a time to be silent and a time to speak,

a time to love and a time to hate,

a time for war and a time for peace.

This passage of scripture has really spoken to me over these past few weeks. So much emotion – so much going on in my personal life and this chaotic world we live in. A week ago Monday, my second daughter walked down a sea of green to get her high school diploma.



Leading up to this special day, I spent countless hours pouring over old photos and then spent more tedious hours syncing each photo so that it would appear just at the right time during the several songs I specifically chose for the fifteen minute memory span of her 19 years.




How did the time go by so fast! My emotions were raw for weeks as I was preparing to let go of another chapter of our lives and let go of yet another amazing child into this world. She is kind, she is compassionate, she is loved and my prayer for Catherine Anne Neilson as she ventures out on the next chapter in her life is that she would have a faith that sticks in this world. That she would know she is fearfully and wonderfully made and that GOD has big plans for her, plans to prosper her and give her hope and a future.


I cling to GOD’S promise and truth in Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” It was a great week of celebrating!

Then four days later, the news of the Charleston shootings. Devastating. As a mom I cannot imagine the pain that these people in Charleston are experiencing. As a believer in Jesus Christ I know there is HOPE – especially in the outpouring of forgiveness that comes from the hearts of the people at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. My most precious time of prayer and worship is in my studio as I paint angels. Praying for people known and unknown, needs known and unknown, I allow the Holy Spirit to sculpt these beings onto the blank canvas.


We packed up nine care packages of “Angels” and sent to the families who lost their loved ones last week.


We will continue to pray for the entire Charleston community for healing, comfort and peace. They need a time to mourn…but we know that there will be a time to dance again! Peace and Blessings to all.