Monday, April 24, 2017

Best Shot Monday: Meet UTOPIA Grad Autumn


Meet Autumn! She is a member of the most recent graduating class from the City of Tallahassee Animal Service Center's UTOPIA program! What's that, you ask?

The UTOPIA program is a partnership between Animal Services and the Taylor Correctional Institution (TCI) in Perry, Florida. This program began on June 4, 2007, and aims to increase the adoptability of the dogs in training.  The Animal Service Center dogs are housed at the TCI for eight weeks to receive socialization and basic obedience training. All dogs participating in the UTOPIA Program must complete their training before being adopted (minimum eight weeks). 

Programs like these benefit not only the dogs but also the inmates working with the dogs.  The dogs learn basic obedience training while the inmates learn to care for another while incarcerated, thereby giving more meaning to their time in the facility. It's really a fabulous program, and we have a similar one in Jacksonville called TAILS.  I remember an instance in Jacksonville in which, through the help of an anonymous donor, an inmate who helped train a TAILS dog was able to adopt the dog upon his release. It was such a beautiful story! 

So Autumn here has had her eight weeks of training and now walks beautifully on her leash, sits patiently for treats and takes them very sweetly. She is crate trained and ready to come home with you!  She is available for adoption now at the City of Tallahassee Animal Service Center!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Best Shot Monday: Meet Lupita

Lupita 1

Meet sweet Lupita. I so love this girl. She has a beautiful smile, doesn't she?  I first photographed her back in mid-January, and then she got caught up in a little scuffle during playgroup and ended up with stitches and several weeks recovering in the vet suite. Scuffle totally not her fault!  She's back in adoptions now, so I wanted to get some fresh pictures of here. Alix and I had her outside for a while, and she is truly such a sweet girl.

As I was wrapping things up Tuesday afternoon, I ended up helping a family look at some dogs. They had come in with a picture pulled up on their phone and said the photo brought them in.  It was my photo of Mr. Rodgers. They met Mr. Rodgers and then wanted to meet a few others they specifically picked out from the website, including Gwen and Indigo, and then I took the opportunity to introduce them to Lupita and Kahuna, both dogs who've been waiting quite some time for their forever family. They loved Lupita and Kahuna and then ultimately couldn't make up their minds! All the dogs I took out for them are still available on the website, so I'm hoping they at least came back and adopted a dog later in the week.

Lupita 2

Seriously!  Look at that sweet face up there! ^^^  When I was taking 'Pita back to her kennel after her meet and greet with this family, I promised I'd keep trying for her. She really is a love. Here's what the shelter says about her: "Lupita (also known as Pita) is a staff favorite here at the shelter. At 53 pounds she is all muscle, but she acts like she's all fluff. 'Pita knows how to sit and takes treats very gently. She can be protective of her people. Pretty Pita can sometimes be found in playgroups or even behind the front desk, where she shows off her good behavior to any customer who will pay her attention." She's available for adoptable at the City of Tallahassee Animal Service Center, 1125 Easterwood Drive, Tallahassee.

Friday, April 14, 2017

2017 Liberate Your Art Postcard Swap

Didgerdoo postcard for swap

I participated in Kat Sloma's Liberate Your Art Postcard Swap again this year. I love doing postcard swaps! It's always fun to get a fun little unexpected something in your mailbox instead of bills and junk mail! For my submissions, I created some postcards out of some of my shelter photos and added in quotes with them. Above is a dog from the Tallahassee shelter named Didgeradoo. He was such a cool dog!

Below are the other two I did, one a group shot from playgroup at the Jacksonville shelter and the other my all time favorite shelter dog love, Chuck. Chuck was the first shelter dog to completely steal my heart, and he's had it ever since. I think of him often!

Chuck for postcard for swap

Playgroup postcard for swap

Below is the first card I received in the mail. Kat spreads out the mailing do you don't get them all at the same time. More to look forward to! This card came from Deanie Houghtaling in Phoenix, Arizona. It is of a carousel horse in Jardin du Laxembourg in Paris! One day, I will travel to Paris.  One day...


Next, I received this beautifully drawn zentangle card from Linda Yeatman in Reston, Virginia, below. I love the black and white contrast.


Next came this beautiful photo from Chrisann Risser. Chrisann and I emailed back and forth a bit, and here's what she told me about her photo: "That photo was taken in December 2016 in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, where I was born and raised. I went home to visit my Dad. Lunenburg is a fishing village on the Atlantic and the colour of the buildings on the waterfront are red so that is what you are seeing in the background. And the photo is of wild rose buds." Beautiful!


Next I received this beautiful page from an art journal from Lorraine Rush, below. She did not share on her postcard where she was from, but her art is beautiful!


Then came this lovely little painting from Sheila Delgado from Prescott Valley, Arizona. I visited the little town of Prescott years ago when I went out that way for a friend's wedding. Very cute town! Thanks, Sheila!


Last I received the card from Kat herself, our wonderful hostess in Portland, Oregon. I wasn't quite sure what the correct orientation was supposed to be, but I liked it best this way! I guess when I see Kat's reveal, I'll know if I was correct! Thanks to Kat for coordinating this swap every year. It's so much fun to send little pieces of your own art out into the world and receive such beautiful little things back.


Thursday, April 13, 2017

2016 Documented Life Project: October


Welcome to October for the 2016 Documented Life Project! The first week of October was certainly an interesting one for us as Hurricane Matthew hit north Florida and left us with a tree in our roof in our house in Jacksonville. Fun stuff, huh! It's all repaired now, but it was a long couple of months getting there.


The first week's challenge was to hide something, and I just happened to have another page from the things I created at Melody Ross's class at Serendipity that fit the bill perfectly!


I had to save this "Comedy Night" invitation on the right. My girls and their friend Kylie put on a little comedy show for us in the front yard, complete with one liners and funny flashlight work.


This next challenge was to "start with a doodle background." I used a scrap piece of deli paper that had lots of juicy leftover paint and doodles on it before I added a postcard from Lesley Riley and some apples cut from a magazine. The three components really have nothing to do with each other, but I loved the way they came together! The photo on the right is my girls with their volleyball team. This was their first year playing volleyball and they loved it. We lucked into an awesome coach. Makes all the difference!


This next challenge was to "divide your page in half." I added in a postcard from Rae Missigman and a little pendant the girls and I created way back in Mermaids and Mamas. We went to the FSU Flying High Circus that week for my husband's birthday. One of only two college circuses in the country, FSU's group is absolutely amazing!


The last challenge for the month was to "repeat a pattern." Those strips with the square holes in them are actually the sides of pages I pulled out of another journal. Always repurposing to get rid of all this stash. So, that's all for October! For more of my 2016 Documented Life Project spreads, click here. For 2015, click here, and for 2014, click here. Be sure to visit the Art to the 5th ladies to see what they have going on! They are the creators of this project!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

2016 Documented Life Project: September


September started the third volume of my 2016 Documented Life Project. Since we used smaller individual page binders this year, my "book" is actually three books of four months each! I'll post some photos of the whole books when I finish posting the individual months. One thing I've loved about this project is sticking in lots of every day photos like this one of Pete and Liv.


The first week's challenge was to use your favorite number, 5 in my case! I repeated not only the number but also a series of five circles. This was a simple fun page that came together quickly. The photo on the right side is Mason who was one of my September Best Shot Mondays!


The next challenge was "organic." I must have been pressed for time when I put this one together since I used a trusty magazine page as a starter. I topped that with some floral patterns with paint and pen work for the organic feel. Sweet little postcard from Mindy Lacefield on the right.  I met Mindy on one of my Artful Journey retreats, and she is such a treat!


The next challenge was "stitching." I've yet to incorporate real stitching into my journal pages (too lazy to get the sewing machine out!) but I did have this stamp that looked like stitches, so it was the perfect fit! I started with a background that I had created for another project but never used and added the "stitching" on top. That week, we celebrated our volleyball win with froyo!


The next challenge was "make your mark." I chose colored pencils! Sarah and I took a colored pencil class at Hobby Lobby, so I cut out my colored pencil flower and added it in. I love the simplicity of this page. This week ended us going to the Florida State/North Carolina game (which we lost miserably) and our Chi Omega Wish Wars for the Make a Wish Foundation.


Finishing out this month's challenges was "stripes." I really had fun with this page! The background is a magazine page from the start of an article on the Everglades, and then I cut up an old calendar page for the "stripes" and placed them all down the page. They are almost like little alligators swimming through the 'Glades. That's all for this September! 

For more of my 2016 Documented Life Project spreads, click here. For 2015, click here, and for 2014, click here. Be sure to visit the Art to the 5th ladies to see what they have going on! They are the creators of this project!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Best Shot Monday: Why We Do This


So it's Tuesday, but it's still Best Shot Monday (a day late!). Since I'm the photographer, it's rare that I actually get a picture of myself with a shelter dog (at least one that's not a crazy selfie). Credit for the photo above goes to my Jacksonville shelter volunteer buddy Angie Benz. I love this picture. This is Alfalfa. His name was Zues when this picture was taken, but the next day one of the shelter staff pulled him up in the system and saw that his name when he was with us before was Alfalfa, so they changed it back. Yep, he was there before. That's one of the things that breaks my heart about shelter volunteering. If you've been around for a while, you inevitably see dogs come back through the system. I didn't see the reason for his return, but one of the reasons we took him out for this particular photo shoot was because he was ping-ponging in his kennel and was almost able to jump out over the top. Definitely not safe for him! Though very frustrated in his kennel, I think this picture clearly shows what a gentle giant he is out of his kennel. His glamour shot is below.

So back to my Why We Do This. Shelter work is hard. Very hard. Whether you are a staff member or a volunteer. You get your hearts broken, sometimes even shattered like this. But as volunteers, you continue to come back because you know they need you. First, the staff needs you, because there simply aren't enough of them, which means, second, the animals needs you even more so they can get out of their kennels, feel a little sunshine on their backs, smell some fresh breezes, get some kitty cuddles, and learn that they are lovable...and loved...and are more than just an I.D. number. But while you may get your heart broken at times, you always are rewarded handsomely with the unconditional love of those animals and the thankfulness of the staff.

And you are rewarded by stories like this: remember my post last week, Meet Gordon, Please Meet Gordon? I did fall in love with Gordon, but truth be known, I was inspired to write his story by another dog who we lost that week; I was determined that Gordon was not going to share her fate.  Well, between shares from my Facebook page and shares from the shelter's Facebook page where the shelter manager posted it, Gordon's post was read nearly 2,000 times in two days. I posted the story on Monday night; the shelter shared it on Tuesday morning. On Friday, someone came in specifically to meet Gordon, and on Saturday, Gordon went home with that somebody on a sleepover. As loving as I know that dog is, I feel pretty good that his sleepover will become his forever home.

That's Why We Do This. For dogs like Gordon. And Alfalfa. And Kay. And Dallas and Gus. And Honey and Tuga. And the thousands upon thousands of animals that enter the doors of municipal, open-door shelters nationwide every single day. It frustrates the heck out of me when I see keyboard warriors bad mouth our shelters.  These shelters don't get to pick and choose what animals they take in.  They take them all, whether it's a stray off the street or 60 dogs in a hoarding case. And then they have to figure out not only where to put them, but also love them, heal them, help them recover from trauma, help them learn that humans really can love them, and then figure out what's going to be the best route to help them find their new homes.

Thank you to the staff who are charged with caring for all these animals and who get their hearts broken all the time. They are some of my greatest heroes. And thank you to all the volunteers who help them; their compassion is unmatched. The next time you say "someone should do something about that!" be that someone.  Adopt. Don't shop. Foster. Volunteer. Donate. Educate. That's Why We Do This.  (And this post reminded me of this post ... and that though I now live in two places, I've never really left ... and I cried happy tears this time.)  Alfalfa is available for adoption at Jacksonville's Animal Care and Protective Services, 2020 Forest St., Jacksonville. 


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

2016 Documented Life Project: August


Next up, it's August in my 2016 Documented Life Project. Almost feels like August in Tallahassee this week! This first spread actually includes the last July challenge on the left, which was add a border. I used a trusty magazine page as the base and then added a few things from there.


The first week of August brought the FSU Circus Camp, so we had to include a couple pictures! The photo on the bottom is of Liv's wrists, her tape proof that she flew on the high flying trapeze. She was a natural! She's looking forward to going back to Circus Camp this summer. Sarah preferred to stay a little closer to the ground. :-)


The next challenge was layers of stencils. I've got two layers of papers and three layers of stencils here, topped off with some gelatos for color.


The next challenge was collage. I love those little tiny photos you can print from what used to be called Printstagram and I think is now called Social Print Studio. Anywho, you can print your Instagram pictures there and they come out so cute! I have a little collection of them. This week was the first week of 8th grade for the girlies!



The next challenge was self portrait. I'm not one for selfies by myself, but I love them with my girls. This photo was taken after one of our weekly Moe's Mondays with Mama dates.


And the last challenge for August was to repeat a pattern. I recall that I have several layers on this page from covering up things I didn't like. Proof that you can always save something when you think it's too far gone! I like the way it ended up. I wrote a little note on the bottom to remind me of Liv and I sitting out on the front sidewalk studying some ants for a good hour. Those are some strong little buggers that can carry things 100 times their size!

I'll post September next week! For more 2016 Documented Life Project spreads, click here. For 2015, click here, and for 2014, click here. Be sure to visit the Art to the 5th ladies to see what they have going on! They are the creators of this project!