Monday, January 26, 2015

A Little Camera Necklace

Camera Necklace

It's rare that I sit down to make a fun little jewel just for me, but that's what I did yesterday. The girls and I found this camera charm at Hobby Lobby, and they decided it was the perfect size for a play camera for their American Girl dolls. Well, I decided it was the perfect size for a fun little piece for me, given that I often have a camera around my neck!  I finished it off with some 8mm copper Czech crystals and brass wire and chain. It's rather satisfying to complete something in about 15 minutes. It'll be a fun little necklace for t-shirt day!  I'll be doing Springtime Tallahassee again this year with my jewelry, so I best get busy building up pieces for that show!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Documented Life Project (2014): The Big Finale!

At long last, here are the last few weeks of my 2014 Documented Life Project! I'm super proud of this book. This is the first time I've stuck with a project from beginning to end (well, if you don't count that hiccup in early summer, but I made up those pages!).  This book now sits on my little conference table in my office in Tallahassee so I can have a little bit of my art with me there.  You can go to this Flickr set to see all the pages in one spot from beginning to end.  My girls started out doing this project with me and got through Week 13 before they drifted off, so you'll see their pages in Flickr too.

Week 48-1

Week 48-2

Week 48's challenge was to depict gratitude in a creative way. Gratitude fell into my lap this week when I saw this little poem Sarah wrote sitting on her desk (above). When I told her how much I liked it, she said I could have it to put in my journal.

Week 49 
Week 49's challenge was to trace your hand. I took a bit of liberty with this one and instead included one of my favorite photos. For those of you with whom I'm connected on Facebook, you'll recognize this as my cover photo! If I remember correctly, those are Olivia's hands. We were at a farm in Gainesville called Dudley Farms with our sweet friend Courtney. This week also included my birthday, on which I had to teach class!, and my first day at my new job.

Week 50

Week 50's challenge was to pick a fantasy vacation spot. I have this dream trip planned. It includes first flying to Ireland and spending at least a week there, and then flying to Paris and spending at least a week there. There'd probably be another spot or two involved, but those are our main two wishes. Before I lost her at 92 in August of 2013, my great Aunt Livy shared as much of our family history with me as she could remember. I learned that my great-great-grandfather Sauls wasn't born a Sauls. He emigrated from the UK, either Ireland or Scotland, to the US at about nine years old, she believed as a orphan. He somehow made his way south, ended up in Georgia, was adopted by the Sauls family and took their name. His birth name was George McAllister. That explains the heritage of my two gorgeous redheads! I'd love to find my roots through him.

Week 51

Week 51's challenge was arrows. I cut these arrows out of a pretty soap wrapper I had been saving for the perfect moment.

Week 52-1

Week 52's challenge was to document a favorite holiday tradition. That was an easy one for me! On Christmas morning, after the gifts are opened, our tradition is to take our dogs to Big Talbot Island and Boneyard Beach. We have to time it with the tides to get on the beach, but it's always well worth the climb and our gift to Molly and Isabelle.

Week 52-2

Week 52-3

You can see a few more pictures of our 2014 Christmas visit to Big Talbot here.

  Standing book 
So above is what the whole book looks like! Below is the cover. I waited until the end to do the cover and ultimately decided to just keep it simple and use a piece of my underpapers and add the year. I love it just like that! As I said at the top of this post, I'm so pleased with this project. I poured hours and hours into this book and though I didn't "document" that much of my daily life, I added the big moments and the little moments that jumped out at me. You can see all my posts dedicated to this project here, or just see all the photos in this Flickr set. And don't forget to check out what the Art to the 5th girls are up to here! Next up I'll start sharing my 2015 DLP journal!

cover

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Documented Life Project (2014): Filling in Weeks 24-29

Happy Friday!  I'm still playing catch up over here, so here are my Weeks 24-29 from the 2014 Documented Life Project.

Week 24-1

Week 24's challenge was to use book text. I am an avid magazine reader (it's a sickness, really...). So as I'm flipping through, I always tear our images that speak to me. This was part of a perfume spread. I just loved the colors. I remember this week clearly. I completely lost my voice! I woke up the morning of the 10th sounding kind of scratchy, and by the end of the day I was silenced. For nearly a week! The upside of that was I got to sit out our adult high school/GED graduation ceremony. My husband certainly loved the fact that I couldn't talk for nearly a week.

Week 25

Week 25's challenge was to cover your tip-in with hearts. I already had this bright scrapbook paper as my tip-in and there just so happened to be a sticker page full of hearts laying in my workshop floor. Bliss! This was our week in Boca Grande, which I blogged here.

Week 26

Week 26's challenge was to add a Bible verse or quote that inspires you. My verse is actually on the back of one of Roben-Marie's lovely postcards.

Week 27

Week 27's challenge was to add a cross word, suduko or word search. The background for this spread is more under papers. Love using my scraps. As I'm posting this, I just noticed that I didn't journal at all! The least I could have remembered was July 4! For the past couple of years, we've been going up to Fernandina Beach for the fireworks. It's a great evening of strolling Center Street, grabbing some ice cream and heading to the river for the show.

Week 28

Week 28's challenge was to add an Instagram or other tiny photo. This little Instragram photo was of the shells that were on the front porch table when Dana and I arrived at our little cottage for the Serendipity Retreat in October 2013. Good Lord, I can't believe that was all the way back in 2013. I hope I get to go back this year!

Week 29

Week 29's challenge was to make a wish and draw or cut up magazines to illustrate. This was another magazine page tear. When I saw this dress, I just fell in love with it. Of course, it's just a couple thousand out of my price range and I'd have absolutely no place to wear it. Thus, keeping the image was the closest thing to granting my wish. Admittedly, I got a little lazy on this spread (not to mentioned tried to use up some rub-ons I've had forever), as this was the last of my catch up pages, and after completing 13 pages in about two and a half days, I was T-I-R-E-D!

So that catches up my back-fill weeks! I hope to post the rest of the finished book this weekend. There still's plenty of time to join in on The Documented Life Project 2015!  It's free and full of inspiration.  I'll start sharing those pages as soon as I finish sharing 2014. :-)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Documented Life Project (2014): Filling In Weeks 17-23

I spent three days over the Christmas break glued to my workbench completing my 2014 Documented Life Project. With the exception of the chunk of weeks 17-29, I had done a fairly good job of keeping up!  Those weeks included some of my busiest times of the year at work, the end of the school year for the girls and our annual vacation to Boca Grande.  This week I'll be sharing the rest of my book with you!

Week 17 
Week 17's challenge was to photograph or draw your favorite shoes (above). I have three "favorites," but they are more like categories. One is cowboy boots; I have three pairs and am constantly on the lookout for the next pair I can't resist. Next is Converse-style sneaks (or the Payless knockoffs!); I currently have four pairs of those: hot pink, plaid, camo, and floral. But my most favorite by far are the soles of my own two feet. If at all possible, I prefer to be barefoot. As for my girls, I've also included a fun little Instagram pic of their feet. For those of you who have followed the Daily Dose of Awesomeness on Facebook, you'll have no trouble telling who is whom.

Week 18

Week 18's challenge was to add an inspiring quote to guide your week.

Week 19-1

Week 19's challenge was to document a random act of kindness that you've done. Since I was doing backfill for these weeks and actually completed them in late December, I had a hard time remembering much from the actual week other than what would normally be on my calendar for that time frame, so instead I just created a page that I felt represented kindness. That beautiful image came out of an old Papaya Arts calendar.

Week 20

Week 20's challenge was to use a rubber stamp in a new way. I stumbled across this stamp in the Michael's dollar bin and bought two of them: one for the girls and me and one to give away.

Week 21-1

Week 21's challenge was to add embroidery, embroidery floss or fabric to your page. Not only can you find "I love my dog" stamps in the Michael's dollar bin, but you can also find these fun little stickers that were like rick racks of fabric. I used the fabric strips to divide the lines of a quote.

Week 22-1

Week 22's challenge was to draw, paint or sketch a house. This is my vision of our little happy shack, full of color. I added a quote that fit the theme. This week was our 19th wedding anniversary. Our very first date was to a Jacksonville Sun's game, so we always try to go to a Sun's game on our anniversary or a date nearby if there is not a game on that date. This year, we had a game on our anniversary, and it just so happened to be the game that won the Suns the Southern League Championship! The dog at the bottom symbolizes a visit to Sunday Funday at the shelter for a photo shoot.

Week 23-1

Week 23's challenge was to practice gratitude. This challenge couldn't have come on a better week. That week my girls graduated from elementary school. Their graduation ceremony was on that Monday. We were blessed with six years, kindergarten through 5th grade, at New Berlin Elementary. I'm very grateful for the wonderful teachers my girls had there.
  Week 23-2 
Weeks 24-29 coming up next! See more of my posts from the 2014 Documented Life Project here.  And check out everything the gals from Art to the 5th have to offer here!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Struggling with Transitions

2-23-13 Flower Party 1

I had a bit of a breakdown driving home from Tallahassee last Thursday night. I knew this portion of our transition, particularly the Mama's in Tallahassee half the week while everyone else is at home part, was going to be difficult on us, and I'll admit I'm truly struggling with it.  My friend Monica Moran said I just might enjoy having some time to myself, but that hasn't happened yet, Monica!

What caught me on the way home was a song, as it often is with me.  It was Miranda Lambert's "The House That Built Me."  I learned this song on guitar when it first came out about five years ago, and it's always touched my heart. Rarely can I get through it without choking up. I didn't really have a "house that built me" growing up. We moved around quite a bit.  I wasn't a military brat, but rather a child of several divorces.  My mom took her own life while going through her third divorce, and my father is currently on his third marriage.  As I was driving home last week, I tried to count up all the places I've lived, and I believe I'm on my 20th residence!  21st if you count my current apartment in Tallahassee (and this doesn't include my dad's places since I lived with my mom after their divorce and off and on after college until I got my own footing). Best that I can remember, I wasn't in any one place longer than about five years.  What does that mean?  That means that I've lived in my current home--the one on which I've kept pots of red geraniums on the front steps from day one, only leaving them bear during our coldest months--three times longer than any other place I've lived in my entire life.

I told Benny that while sitting in the driveway learning the in's and out's of the vehicle that came along with my new job. He looked at me for a long moment and said, "Wow...okay...now I get it." Now he gets why I'm struggling so much.  It's more than just being away from my family half the week. It's more than going through the challenges and stressors of learning a new job after 20 years at the college.  The most difficult part of this whole process for me is wrapping my head around the fact that, come summer, I will no longer be living in this house.  That's what truly breaks my heart.  You may say, ah, come on, it's just a house.  And sure, if you just look at the physical structure, yes, it's just a house (though one with dolphins in the backyard...)  

But it's our dream house.  It's our house that took us 14 months to build, through crooked framing and hanging out the third story windows painting, boarding up the doors and windows when the house was almost done due to the threat of category 5 Hurricane Floyd, and all our appliances and plumbing fixtures being stolen before we could move in.  It's our house that we planned to live in until we could no longer safely navigate all the stairs, and then we were going to put in an elevator so we wouldn't have to.  So what does all this mean?  I'm not sure yet.  But I'll admit that if we don't find the right family to rent our house, I won't be disappointed.  I'll suck it up and pay a mortgage in Jacksonville and a steep rent payment in Tallahassee.  Because this is home.  This IS the house that built me, and the house that built this family.  Yes, I know we'll return here when I retire, at least eight years from now.  I've always dreamed of giving my girls the upbringing that my husband experienced, one in which parents didn't get divorced and they lived in the same house forever.  A house that when they went off to college, got married and had babies of their own, they could come home to. And they'd remember it as the house that built them.  And they'd tell their own kids about the time they had a geranium party on the front porch with Mama, clutching blooms in their hands before taking them apart and throwing the petals in the air for the wind to catch and spread all over the yard.

Every night when I say my prayers, I include the exact same prayer:  "Dear Lord, please continue to help us through this transition."  I'm still going to make that dream happen, regardless of having a new job in Tallahassee.  My girls will always know the house that built them.  After all, while we won't be living here for a while, it's only a two and a half hour drive away and I have a feeling we'll be making that trip often.      

Friday, January 16, 2015

An Epic Treasure Hunt

ScavengerHunt

When I was almost home from Tallahassee Thursday evening, Olivia called me to tell me she had a treasure hunt waiting for me. If there's any upside to being away from your family half the week, it's that you get the royal treatment when you get home.

My hunt started with the first clue you see above: relax. When I gave Livvie a confused look, she said, "Where do you to relax?"  Oh, the bathtub!  On the side of the tub, I found "a puffy long lost friend," and again I was confused and said, "Zoey?" "No!" Livvie said, "a LONG LOST puffy friend!"  Oh, Savannah!  So I went to Savannah's picture and found "Let us come in! Ruff!" and started to head downstairs when Livvie stopped me and again said, "No!  Where do Izzy and Molly WANT to come in!"  Oh, the french doors right by the kitchen table!  That brought me to "Feed us! MEOW!" which led me to Pete and Zoey's bowls. There I found "School Stuff." This, of course, completely stumped me because, like most kids, their school stuff is littered all over the house. When they saw the look on my face, they corrected with "Where do you WANT us to put our school stuff?" That, I knew. :-)

The next clue said "Ruff! Ruff!  Night night and bye bye." This I knew meant the dogs' beds downstairs.  That note pointed to "Tick, Tock" and the clock on the wall back upstairs, which led me to "Comfy Mattress," and knowing how much Olivia likes our new mattress, there I went.  Buried under the covers I found a most excellent travel cup called a Yeti. Seriously, this thing is amazing. To test it, Benny filled it up with ice after I finished my hunt, which was about 7pm, put the lid on and left it on the kitchen counter.  When I went to bed about 10pm, I checked it, and not a drop of water came out of the sipper when I turned it over.  When I checked it again this morning, 12 hours later, I got maybe half an ounce of water.  The ice was still holding fast.  At 7pm tonight, 24 hours later, the ice had still barely melted! (And, no, Yeti is not paying me for this endorsement; I'm just sharing with you just how awesome my treasure is.)

This was the first of two treasure hunts and I'll spare you the details of the second one, but just trust that I truly got my exercise in this three-story house. Staying in an apartment in Tallahassee by myself when I'm used to sharing a home with a husband, two kids, two dogs, two cats and two hermit crabs sure gets lonely, but it makes coming home every week all the more special.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Best Shot Monday: Welcome Home Mama

Welcome Home

This sign is what I came home to Friday evening after my longest week in Tallahassee yet.  It was accompanied by a verbal invitation to a tea party, which was all set up and ready to go in Sarah's room. Over a conversation about our week, we enjoyed Goldfish crackers, Skittles and iced water all served in the girls' Alice and Wonderland tea set.  I'm five weeks into my new job, and I'm not gonna lie:  having a job in Tallahassee and a life and family in Jacksonville is quite the challenge.

Up until last week, I've managed to only be away from home two nights each week, driving over Tuesday morning after I get the girls on the bus and starting the drive home Thursday afternoon by 3:30pm in order to make it home for dinner.  Mondays and Fridays, I work from home.  But last week, I had orientation bright and early Wednesday morning, meaning driving over Tuesday, and my first Council of Presidents meeting on Friday, leaving me three nights away. Over our Goldfish and Skittles, the girls told me they both cried after our FaceTime chat Thursday night.  :-(   I've moved into my apartment now, so I'm hopeful things will start to feel as normal as they can until we can all be living under the same roof all week again this summer.  It's funny how when you really want to relish things, timely literally flies by.  But when you want time to fly by, it creeps along like a turtle.