Bunny Goes to Hollywood

Yes, having lived with Bunny Susan and Sister Bunny since the girls were born, I realize I may be the only one who finds this funny, but I couldn't resist taking this picture (I know at least Becky will laugh!). This is how Sarah left Bunny in the van when I dropped her and Livvie off at school this morning. If only I could have pulled up next to a talent scout at a stop light, I'm certain Bunny would have been discovered and on her way to Hollywood.

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Our New Addition

Today is Sarah and Olivia’s 4th birthday! We had their party yesterday. We rented one of those big blow up water slides, so both the kids and the adults were completely entertained…and today, totally exhausted. The girls are finally down for a nap today. I’ll post a few pictures from the party later this week. But as you may have guessed by this point, this little gal came wrapped in a red bow. Her name is Isabelle. We really weren’t planning on getting the girls a puppy for their birthday, but sometimes, as the saying goes, “timing is everything”.

Isabelle walked into my office on Tuesday. One of my students was trying to find a home for her. One thing led to another and here we are with a new puppy. She’s 13 weeks old, ½ chocolate lab, ½ weimeraner. When I called the DH to ask if we could keep her, he reminded me of another one of those as the sayings go….there’s no such thing as a free dog!

So after the trip to PetSmart for her crate (thankfully, she’s pretty much already crate trained), a large bag of dog food and some treats and toys, Isabelle is no longer a free dog! And though the girls love her, she’s also already attached herself to DH. I’m sure the fact that he’s sleeping with her on his couch downstairs as we speak has nothing to do with that.

Savannah and Kitty, on the other hand, are none too happy about their new sibling. We quickly learned that right now, Isabelle is still small enough to fit through the kitty door. As Kitty was coming down the stairs, Izzy was coming up…a nose to kitty paw fight ensued, and they both turned around and ran their separate directions. I found Kitty in the bathroom sink about 30 minutes later. Yes, sitting in the sink. That was a first. Not a happy kitty. Savannah has just chosen to stay away. She’s been through this before. When we brought her home, we had four dogs. She thought she was home free when she out-lived the dogs, but then we brought home Kitty. And now she’s got to deal with a dog all over again. Oh well, I guess everyone will adjust soon enough! Savannah is a 9-year-old long-haired calico; Kitty is a 6-year-old gray tabby.

I did mention that Izzy is pretty well crate trained. "Pretty well" being the key phrase. She knows that she needs to go outside for a tinkle. However, she has already christened two different rugs with that other, um, stuff. Lord help us all….of course, I have always said that when we got another dog, I wanted to get two so they wouldn’t be lonely while we're gone to work all day….

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Free Bling Friday Number Thirteen!

Time for Free Bling Friday! Random.org selected Sandi S. from Tallahassee, FL, as last week's winner. Congratulations, Sandi! Here's this week's entry. I've combined yummy botswana agate semi-precious gems with crystal shadow Swarovski crystals and sterling silver. Like last week's offering, this pair is extremely versatile, and will match tons of things in your closet. They hang approximately 1 1/4" on sterling french wires.

To be eligible for this week's Free Bling, email me by midnight, August 1, with the subject line FREE BLING and include where you're from. Good luck! Don't forget about the annual Summer Sale running on the website through July 31.

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Counting My Blessings

I had a “moment” today during my lunch break. Now that the girls are nearly four, the DH and I are finally breaking down and getting a “new-to-us” boat, so we had our appointment at the credit union for our loan. We met at the main branch downtown. Heading back to my office after completing the paperwork, I took the Beaver St to Broad St to State St to I-10 route. Those of you familiar with Jacksonville may know that there are several homeless shelters and missions on Broad Street.

While sitting at the light right in front of the Clara White Mission, I was watching several clusters of homeless individuals waiting around, and it made me wonder what their lives must be like. Here I was in my nice late model, low mileage vehicle, two Eddie Bauer car seats and a guitar in the back, a basket full of CDs and DVDs sitting at the ready up front, having just signed a loan to buy a boat, while these folks had little or nothing to their names and had to come here just to get a simple bite to eat. One particular couple caught my eye. They were young, barely in their 20s, if that, and had a baby. The young man was standing behind the young woman with his arm wrapped around her neck, and he reached around to gently give her a kiss on the cheek. After the kiss, the young woman bent down to adjust the blanket on the baby, shielding her from the sun. Regardless of their situation, they looked completely blissful.

This simple little scene reinforced in me that fact that I am very blessed. In addition to a caring husband and two beautiful little redheads, I have a nice roof over my head, a good job, two cars in the driveway and soon a boat in the back yard. Sure, I’ve been through some very sad times, we all have, but overall I am blessed with a very good life. And so, probably, are you. Because you are reading this blog, you most likely have a computer, and therefore, a little extra spending money in addition to most, if not all, of the things I just mentioned. These folks have none of that. Now don’t get me wrong; I’m not a Pollyanna or a bleeding heart liberal calling for a total revamping of the welfare system….I know good and well that some people get themselves into homeless situations out of pure laziness, but I also know that just as many end up on the streets regardless of how hard they fought to stay afloat.

No, I’m not putting out a call to action here. I’m not asking you to go down to your local soup kitchen to volunteer, though that can be a very rewarding experience. I’m not even asking you to send anyone any money. I’m just giving you a little food for thought…encouraging you to think about your own little blessings. Take a look around you, and then take a look inside you and see if you don’t feel just as blessed.

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Aprons, Aprons Everywhere!

I've been noticing a trend here lately.... aprons are back in style! I'm talking the good old-fashioned kitchen or hostess apron, but they are anything but old-fashioned looking now. Go to Etsy or Ebay and put apron in the search bar and you'll get thousands of matches. I've been on a fabric kick here lately (I get on these random kicks, just can't explain it). My goal in buying fabric is to get back to making some handbags again, but I keep seeing these adorable little aprons everywhere I look. This one is made by Bloomworks; it's a little cutie for your little cutie. I can definitely see Sarah and Olivia loving one of these. But I've seen just as many adorable ones for big girls like me. I also saw dozens of hip apron patterns when I was searching for new handbag ideas at Joann's the other day, so I may have to add aprons to my sewing list, just for fun. Now if only I could cook...you know, I mean something that doesn't come out of a box...other than spaghetti...I make a mean spaghetti sauce.

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Free Bling Friday Number Twelve!

Time for Free Bling Friday! Random.org selected Janice B. of Jacksonville, Florida, as last week's winner. Congratulations, Janice!

For this week's entry, I've combined deep lavender fancy jasper semiprecious gemstones with sparking Swarovski crystals and a generous dosing of Balinese sterling. In a shade that will blend with just about everything, these can be worn casually or dressed up for a night on the town. They hang approximately 1 1/2" on sterling french wires. Click here for a second photo.

To be eligible for this week's Free Bling, email me by midnight, July 26, with the subject line FREE BLING and include where you're from. Good luck! Don't forget about the annual Summer Sale running on the website through July 31. Don't want to miss a single Free Bling Friday? Sign up for free weekly email updates here!

If Only I Still Had Babies...

...I could get them this onesie! This absolutely cracked me up when I saw it, and given my propensity to post pictures and stories about my girls here, would be perfect for them, but alas, they will be four in two weeks. If you have little little ones or know someone who does, check out this and other fun onesies and toddler tees at Rainbowswirlzkids, an Etsy shop run by Mendy and James. They also have another shop, Rainbow-Swirlz, for big kids like us with more fun screen-printed stuff. Go see!

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Learning Life Lessons

Life is definitely an on-the-job training kind of thing, isn't it? Whether it be learning to navigate a relationship, raising a child, or taking a chance, you learn as you go, and you never know what to expect until you get there. I learned one of those lessons this weekend.

I've been working on another website to promote artists and craftsmen here in the North Florida area. It started with the help of a few friends I met at the St. Johns Town Center show and we named it the First Coast Art Spot. Please check it out here! Works pictured here are by Jennelle Comiskey (left) and Nancy Asbell (below). If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that one of the main things I like to do here is feature artists I've met or found various places, so putting together a website that does the same thing on a larger scale was not too big of a stretch. I've been contacting artists from the area who sell their work on Etsy and Ebay, as well as those I found through some local and state organizations and websites, friends telling friends, help from the local art show promoter I do shows with, etc. We're just getting started, but we're starting to get some interest and very positive feedback from artists we know. To note, we did not start this site as a money-making venture; sure, we hope that by promoting the Art Spot, our art will get out there as well, but it's more about promoting the group and art in the area in general. We haven't even covered expenses yet and we'll be spending some of our own money to help promote the site.

There are a couple other sites here in town that are doing similar things, and our philosophy on it has been the more the merrier; multiple venues just gets stuff out there for local artists even more, so on the Art Spot, we've listed these other organizations and any others that we can find that help to promote artists work in our links page. Though the girls and I didn't start the Art Spot to compete with these other sites, I think the owner of one of those sites feels differently about that and let me know. I had gotten a sense that the folks behind this site were not happy with us, so I contacted them to let them know that we were not there to compete and would like to work together, but that feeling was not shared. I guess that was my life lesson learned: I'll never please everyone.

As part of my day job, I do a lot of leadership training and one of the personality type inventories I use fairly regularly is called True Colors. I'll spare you the details here and just tell you that my color spectrum is Orange, Blue, Gold, Green. Those with Orange as their dominant color tend to have a lot going on and, instead of being stressed by that, tend to thrive in those conditions. I guess I'm a prime example of that. I do have a LOT on my plate. (Did I tell you I just accepted the position of President of the Greater Jacksonville Chi Omega Alumnae Association? As my DH said when I told him this, "Sure Kelly! You should do that because you really don't have anything else going on right now!" But at least I stepped down from my JACKPOTT position before I accepted the Chi O position. Anywho, once again, I digress.) Back to True Colors. As for my Blue, the primary quality of a dominant Blue is peace...the whole "why can't we all just get along and work together for the benefit of the whole" line of thinking. So, between my Orange and my Blue (which in one aspect really bugs me given the fact that I'm a Florida State grad, not a UF grad), I hope you can see where the negative vibe I received back from the other site was very disappointing.

So just for giggles, I checked my horoscope. My habit for this is to check it the next day to see if anything rang true, so Sunday, I read Saturday's horoscope. This is what it said: "If someone is questioning your ideals today, you have every right to question their motives. It's high time for you to give just as good as you get, so don't be shy about calling a spade a spade today. It's not about being vindictive or small, it is about being fair. Your reputation is something that opens doors for you right now, and you need to protect it." Hmmm!! That sounds very familiar! Anywho, I still hope that the owner of this other site will come around and see that we're not here to compete, but if not, we'll continue to charge ahead, and continue to include that link on our site. The way I see it, the hardest part about being an artist or craftsman is not in the creation itself, but rather in the marketing of that creation. So the more avenues artists have to market their work, the better, right? By the way, I do plan to join that other organization if they'll still have me!

Update: I just heard back from the manager of the other group again and they've agreed that it would be best for everyone after all if we work together toward a common goal. Yeah! I'll keep you all updated on our progress.

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Belle and Boo

Isn’t this just the cutest little print you’ve ever seen? I found this on Etsy (yes, as you’ve probably figured out by now, I’m addicted to Etsy). The artist behind Belle and Boo creates the most lovely little pieces of art. In addition to her prints, she has fun little buttons and tags, and even a doll or two. And even though she is in London, England, her shipping is only $5! Check out her Etsy store here and her cute little blog here. Like this post? Click here to sign up for free weekly email reminders.

Free Bling Friday Number Eleven: Summer Sale Kickoff!

Time for Free Bling Friday! Random.org selected Brenda S. from Sioux City, Iowa, as last week's winner. Congratulations, Brenda! Brenda's even a first time visitor who found me through Scoutie Girl. Talk about beginner's luck!

Here's this week's entry. Chalcedony is a semi-precious gemstone in the quartz family and ranges in color from pale pink to blue to aqua to pale purple and even pale green. These aqua faceted chalcedony briolettes are really gorgeous. I’ve wire-wrapped them to pretty little cast pewter flowers and hung them on sterling French wires. They hang approximately 1 ¾” total in length. Click here for a second photo.

To be eligible for this week's Free Bling, email me by midnight, July 19, with the subject line FREE BLING and include where you're from. Happy Shack's First Annual Summer Sale starts today on the website! Everything in the store (except custom orders) is 20% off until July 31. Go Shopping!

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Big Brother is Watching

Whoa! I guess Big Brother is definitely watching and one of his code names is Google. I got this information from my twins' group. Google has implemented a new feature which enables you to type a telephone number into the search bar and hit enter and you will be given the person's name and address. If you then hit Map at the end of the address, you will get a map to the person's house. Yikes! The safety issues of this are obvious.

I tried some random numbers, including both my home and cell numbers, and they came right up along with the Mapquest directions straight to my house for my home number. My cell number search brought up both my websites since that's the number I included on there. In order to test whether your phone number is mapped, go to Google, type your phone number in the search bar (i.e. 555-555-5555) and hit enter. If you are listed, you’ll then see your address and a link for a map. Kinda scary, huh? You can have your phone number removed or blocked by simply clicking on your telephone number and then completing the removal form. Removal takes 48-hours and you can designate why you want to remove your number, including “privacy concerns”.

To note, this got me curious so I tried a couple other search engines. MSN brings up the same information, including the map, for my home number, and I don't see a way to remove it. Yahoo brought up one of my arts registry listings but not my home listing. Of course, there are dozens of websites out there through which you can pay for this information, but I guess the fact that it can so easily be had for free these days is a bit troubling. Our “information society” has truly made us all easy access. Check you own number, and although this may not apply to you if you have an unlisted number or a cell phone as your primary contact, you may know someone who needs to know this.

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From the Blonde Moment Files

Laugh for the day...Last year I replaced all the windows in my house with those double-paned energy-efficient kind. Yesterday, I got a call from the contractor who installed them. He was complaining that the windows had been installed a whole year ago and I had not paid for them yet. Helloooo?

Now just because I'm blonde doesn't mean that I am automatically stupid. So I told him just exactly what his fast-talking sales guy had told ME last year... namely, that in just ONE YEAR these windows would pay for themselves! Helllooooo!? It's been a year!

There was only silence at the other end of the line, so I finally just hung up. He hasn't called back, probably too embarrassed about forgetting the guarantee they made me. (and no, this story is NOT about me...but, you know, a friend of mine....)

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Lovin' This Animal Art

If you know me personally or have read this blog for any length of time, you know that I absolutely love animals and am a collector of fun animal art. Sarah and Livvie’s room is full of it. In addition to the larger format art I have in the girls' room, I also collect animal ACEO’s by Vivian Markham, Rebecca Ives and Lara Harris as well as some other artists. ACEO's are a great way to affordably amass your own personal art collection! And now I've found a new artist I need to collect!

I actually found Dottie Dracos through her husband’s Ebay store when I purchased some of his fun little dog and cat magnets last week. Dottie does adorable, and very affordable, work and even has some cool little clocks. Check our her website here and her Ebay listings here. Her paintings just make you smile!
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Free Bling Friday Number Ten!

Whoo hoo! Free Bling Friday is 10 weeks old! Random.org selected Nancy M. of Jacksonville, FL, as last week's winner. Congratulations, Nancy!

To celebrate Free Bling's 10-week anniversary, I went for some gold and pearls this week, Mother of Pearl to be specific. Aren't these just luscious? Creamy golden mother of pearl topped with AB Swarovski crystals, all accented with 14K gold-filled and 22K gold vermeil findings. These are truly yummy. I need to make a pair to keep! Click here for a second photo.

To be eligible for this week's Free Bling, email me by midnight, July 12, with the subject line FREE BLING and include where you're from. Good luck! Several new things listed on the website this week, too. Check them out! Don't want to miss a single Free Bling Friday? Sign up for free weekly email updates here!

The Legend of "The Skip"

Do you like to bowl? I won’t say I’m a regular bowler, but I did spend some time in church bowling leagues growing up. These days, I may bowl once a year if that, but I’ve never lost my signature “skip”. Not sure how the skip developed, but I just know that if I attempt to bowl without the skip, I fall flat on my face, literally.

I mentioned earlier this week that I facilitated a leadership retreat for our state student government association executive board this past weekend. Traditionally, we take this group bowling as part of their teambuilding activities on Saturday night. I haven’t directly trained this group since my girls were born, so this was actually the first time I’ve been bowling in about five years. So while I barely managed to break 100 each game (100 and 111 to be exact), one thing had not changed: the skip. One of my students is this year’s president so I warned him of the skip before we even left campus and told him that ridicule would not be tolerated (after all, I signed his scholarship form…). To my surprise, however, there were quite a few in our group who tried to imitate the patented Kelly Skip instead, to great failure I must add. If the skip doesn’t come naturally, you’ll trip yourself up if you try it, and I witnessed that quite a few times. One of our students videoed the skip and the strike that followed it (one of very few of the night!) and promised that it would make it to You Tube. My own personal 15 minutes of fame...I’m scared.

About half way through the day Sunday, Jim and I facilitated an exercise on communication skills that uses the good-old-fashioned telephone game as its base. It’s called Rumor Clinic. The official story that comes with the initiative is a rather boring accident report, so we tend to create our own stories, the more outlandish the better. Since I had been jacked up on chocolate most of the day (and didn’t get to bed until about 1am the night before), I came up with this story: Last night at the bowling alley, Dennis tried to emulate Kelly’s skip but fell flat on his face, ripping his pants and breaking his arm in the process. Matt attempted to take Dennis to the hospital, but in his haste could only find a veterinary hospital that specialized in large animals. After the vet set Dennis’s arm in a cast, Dennis returned to the hotel, mooing like a cow.

The object of Rumor Clinic is to relate this story one person at a time to the next person in line, who hasn’t had the benefit of hearing the previous versions, so as you can imagine, what you start out with and what you end up with are invariably two very different stories. Somewhere along the line, Dennis became Hazel, who tried bowling in her brand new stilettos, which caused her to trip, get the ball stuck on her hand and fly down the lane face first, only to have the pin-setter bounce up and down on her. Then someone switched Hazel to Kaia, who was wearing those stilettos to impress one of her new boyfriends, and after the pin-setter came down on her she really needed a hug. This lasted for a few people while Kaia received lots of hugs. Then the last person didn’t know that a pin-setter was the actual contraption that reset the pins and thought it was a real person, the stilettos disappeared, and the story ended up as a bowling alley employee beating up Kaia for no known reason, and she no longer got hugs. Whew! Granted, I think we had some embellishments along the way, but I hope you can imagine how funny this was.

To give you an idea of the characters, Dennis is the state advisor and a very close friend of mine, Hazel is our district three advisor, very adorable in her early 50’s but not someone I’d ever see wearing stilettos, Matt is our student district two coordinator, and Kaia is our student vice president, and the one who truly brought out the best embellishment. The object of the initiative is to talk about how “rumors” get started and how they can adversely affect an organization...mooing cows, stilettos, possessed pin-setters and all. And to think I get paid for this. :-)

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Taming the Trash Tiger

I facilitated a leadership retreat for our state student government executive board this past weekend….wiped me out! So after sleeping till noon yesterday, I started cleaning out my magic bus, otherwise known as the family minivan. I’ve always said I was way too cool to drive a minivan, so I call it the magic bus…humor me. I even selected the van that at least somewhat, in my mind anyways, resembles an SUV, the Chevy Uplander. Though every time I try to work that angle, my close male friends continue to say, "Kelly, it's a d*$m minivan...!" Oh well, more on the retreat later, but I will say that I collected a lot of junk in the trunk, er, main driver’s compartment of the magic bus.

Isn't it amazing how much trash you can collect in your car sometimes, or it is just me? Given, the innumerable amount of Cheerios I find all over the vehicle truly has its source (you'd be amazed where they turn up), but other than the Cheerios, you'd think I'd be able to keep a handle on things, right? After all, I work a full-time job, raise two little redheads, and run two part-time businesses; I should be able to maintain a clean van, um, I mean magic bus! To help me tame the trash tiger, I came across this handy dandy, yet tres fashionable, garbage pail on Etsy. Allyson Hill invented this little design and makes them in a variety of fabrics, for only $17 each! I must have two! Check out her Etsy store here.

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