Free Bling Friday Number 30!

Can you believe December is upon us? And it's time for Free Bling Friday once again! Last week's winner is Susan T. of Jacksonville, FL. Congratulations, Susan! This week's entry is a neutral pair that will coordinate with just about anything in your wardrobe. I've combined smokey quartz gemstone briolettes with dangles of lt. Colorado topaz Swarovski crystals, all hanging on sterling silver hoops. They hang approximately 1 1/2" total in length. To be eligible to win this pair, simply email me by midnight Thursday, December 6, with the subject line FREE BLING and include where you're from. Don't want to miss a single Free Bling Friday? Sign up for free weekly email updates here!

Introducing the North Florida Craft Revolution

Yeah! I just did a little happy dance because I finally figured out how to capture a picture of an Etsy treasury! And what a lovely treasury it is, don't you think!? It represents a new Etsy team I've joined with an awesome group of Etsy sellers from the North Florida area. This treasury was put together by surfacetoairmedia, my new BFF because she appears to be the only other Seminole fan amongst us! Yeah, Samantha! We must stick together! View the real treasury she created here and buy something! Recognize that bracelet third row on the right? :-)

The two Etsyians who've really pulled this group together are emmommy and alyburd. I bought two of emmommy's personalized photo pendants--one for Aunt Livy and one for me--and they are awesome! The whole group is full of wonderfulness (did I just make up a word?). Check out the full list of us here on the blog that alyburd started for us. Support your local area Etsy crafters for Christmas and Buy Handmade. And don't forget about the First Coast Art Spot artists as well!

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In Support of the Donna Hicken Foundation…

This year I was given the opportunity to donate a silent auction piece for the annual Donna Hicken Foundation Christmas Luncheon at the Florida Yacht Club. I knew I wanted to do one of my Showstopper style necklaces and I got on a purple binge this weekend and came up with this. I love the way it came out! Hopefully it will bring in some big bucks for the Foundation. Started by First Coast news anchor Donna Hicken, the Foundation supports women battling breast cancer. Donna is a two-time breast cancer survivor and has journaled her experiences online and in book form. A triathlete and avid runner, she’s also started the first 26.2 with Donna: The National Breast Cancer Marathon, scheduled for its first running February 17, 2008. And she’s a Florida State College of Communications graduate, like me!

I’ve met Donna a couple times in passing but the one instance that sticks out in my head was at one of the Beaches Fine Arts Triathlons. I used to do those regularly, as does she, and since I was injured one race, I came as a volunteer and manned one of the water stations. When Donna came by, nowhere near the front of the pack, she said to me with a grin, “Am I winning yet?!” Gotta love that spunk.

Not sure if there are still seats available for the Christmas Luncheon, but if you're interested, contact the Florida Yacht Club at (904) 389-1011. I'll be sitting at Peg Greene's FCCJ table! I have two close friends who’ve battled breast cancer, so maybe I still have time to get back in shape for the marathon, though after running the Alaska Midnight Sun Marathon in 1997, I swore I’d never run another marathon…but this is a good cause! If you have someone in your life that's been touched by this disease, I hope you'll consider a donation to the Donna Hicken Foundation. Or would you rather run the marathon with me? :-)

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Bird House for Sale...

Aren't the blues in this photo just eye-popping? Found it on Etsy and I loved the description that came along with it so I thought I'd share it with you all. "In Memory of Big Blue: We love the birds, and especially the Blue Birds. This was captured in our own back yard. Blue on blue. But the house was abandoned with the eggs still in the nest. We still speak of our loss. It's been over three years ago. Note to all Blue Birds: House available in great neighborhood. You could be featured on Etsy too. Near good schools (of fish) and great eating establishments (featuring all you can eat meal worms). No mortgage; no taxes. Welcome." The photographer is Robert Eastman. Even his profile makes you take a step back and be thankful for what you have. He says, "Life is way too short. Grab all the beauty, love and purpose that you can. Especially love and purpose." Words to live by, don't you think? Find more of Robert's work here. He's currently running a holiday 8x10 print with every purchase! His prints are priced perfectly for Christmas presents!

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Free Bling Friday Number 29!

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Now, it's Free Bling Friday time! Last week's winner is Leah K. from Wellesley, MA. Congratulations, Leah! For this week's entry I got into the Christmas spirit. These are petite lampwork beads, really just a little bit bigger than your average pencil eraser. I've added a little holiday sparkle to the traditional Christmas colors with 6mm siam Swarovski crystal donuts. They are all wrapped up with sterling silver accents and hang just a tad over 1" on sterling French wires. To be eligible to win this pair, simply email me by midnight Thursday, November 29, with the subject line FREE BLING and include where you're from. Don't want to miss a single Free Bling Friday? Sign up for free weekly email updates here!

REALLY Taking Chances....

Here’s another one of my new pieces that I really love. I have a box of beads that I keep separate from the rest and it contains some of my favorite, and most pricey, lampwork collection. They were torched by two German beadmakers that I found on Ebay. I’ve finally started working some of them into these new pieces, but I’m still hoarding most of them!

So I had an interesting conversation with my guitar teacher last night. I take guitar once a week, and because I typically can’t find any other time during the week, Gary and I call my weekly lesson my “once a week supervised practice”. What the hey, at least I’m picking up my guitar once a week. I really enjoy my lessons, as much for hanging out with Gary as for the musical development. We have a great time cracking jokes on each other. I always joke with him that I’m his favorite student. :-) Anywho, we were working on a new song last night, Sugarland’s “Stay”, and I was picking it up pretty easily. He felt this was a great song for me; it’s in my vocal range and it has minimal accompaniment. Most of the song just has a simple guitar strum background, so it would be truly easy for me perform in a solo acoustic setting. So here’s the thing. As you know from reading this blog, I have no trouble sharing my jewelry or my writing with people, both creative pursuits. I think I’ve developed a good eye for jewelry design and color blending, and I know I’ve always been a very strong writer. Yet, I have terrible stage fright when it comes to sharing my music, another creative pursuit.

Before taking up guitar, I had years and years of piano training, classical mainly, but I loved to branch off into Blues and Broadway. When I can warm up my dusty fingers and play at the top of my game, I know that I really am still very good. Yet I really don’t like to play for people, not even my family, but my cats and dogs have enjoyed numerous concerts! Hmmm….actually I think I have a much easier time playing for strangers than I do for my friends and family. I’m the same way singing and with the guitar. I’ve sang in public a few times for very special occasions, three or four times on campus for special events and several times for my statewide student government buddies, accompanied on guitar by my good friend Jim Phillips. I’ve also sat in on a couple gigs with friends who are professional singer/songwriters. And every time, I’ve had numerous people come up to me afterwards wowed that I can really sing. Yet, other than my DH and the girls, who I truly haven’t played much for, the only person who has really heard me play guitar and sing is Gary, and even he hasn’t heard me truly belt it out vocally. And I’ve been taking lessons from him for at least five or six years now.

So back to that conversation we had. I was talking to Gary about my stage fright and he told me a story about when he was asked to play drums to accompany a woman that was recording some new songs. The person making the connection asked him what he charged, and he gave her a ridiculously low fee for both rehearsal and studio time. She told him, “Oh no, I can’t tell her that. We’ll tell her $50/hour for rehearsal time and $100/hour of studio time.” She told him that he was very talented with years of training and experience and should not be afraid to charge a much higher rate for his talent. He used this as an example to get me to see that I have a gift, a talent that I should not be afraid of sharing, just like I have no fear of sharing my jewelry and my writing. In his opinion, I am musically gifted both vocally and instrumentally, gifts most people don’t have.

So that said, to try to break out of that stage fright a little bit, I have decided to start small by sharing some of my music with you here. If you’ve read this blog from the beginning (tee hee, Kelly made a funny!), then you know that I lost my mother to suicide just after Christmas in 1999. It’s hard to explain what that does to you, other than the huge sense of abandonment and loss of self-worth you feel when someone that close to you chooses to end her own life. It’s very different from losing a parent by natural causes like cancer or a heart attack. At only 54 and going through a nasty divorce from my step-father, my Mom thought she had nothing to live for, yet she had me and my sister, and in my case, possibly grandchildren on the way. (Click here and here for posts in which I talk about Mom.) So of course, my husband decided I really needed to go to therapy. I really didn’t want to go to therapy, just didn’t think that was for me, but I went just once to appease him. I was right; it wasn’t for me. I deal with things better working them out creatively, whether it be by writing, creating something physical like art, or as in this case, creating music. So as my therapy, I recorded a CD and dedicated it to my Mom. I gave a copy of it to my closest friends when I finished it, but other than that, not very many people have heard it. So…you want to hear some of it? I’ve uploaded a few of the songs off the CD. Be gentle; I can carry a tune but I’m not Faith Hill. :-) Click here to hear the songs. They're a mix of country and blues. I'll hold my breath now...

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Taking Chances and Learning New Things!

I have news! I'm included in the 2007 BussBuss Holiday Shopping Guide for Her! BussBuss is "the online shopping Bible" so we'll see how many followers I gain from it. For the secret BussBuss Happy Shack Designs sale code, visit BussBuss here, find the Holiday Shopping Guide for Her, and then find me! It's a little treasure hunt!

And as for learning new things, a few of my students have finally convinced me to do a MySpace page (yes, I really needed just one more thing to keep up with...) So if you are a MySpacer, check me out and let's get on each others friends' list. Find me here.

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Great Day for a Football Game

I traveled over to Tallahassee last to eat some of my favorite Barnaby's Pizza (yes, I still prefer Barnaby's to the new Red Elephant, 1970's tavern decor, cobwebs on the chandeliers and all) and enjoyed a great FSU vs. Maryland game today. Great weekend for a college football game, so I must talk about my 'Noles for a minute tonight! Today was the last home game of the season, which has always been a favorite of mine. Some colleges recognize their seniors earlier in the season, but FSU has always saved that tradition for the final home game. I dated a football player in college, and I remember what that last home game meant to him, so I feel like I have a little insight into what those young men were thinking as they came out of that tunnel for the last time today, arm in arm with their families as they were introduced. It's really a very special moment.

Today was also the last home game for Chief Osceola John Haley, who's graduating in April. Quite a priviledge he's had for the past four years, and I'm sure he had some tears in his eyes as he and Renegade trotted off the field after planting the spear together for the last time. The Marching Chiefs also have a neat tradition. As they are wrapping up the final half time show, all the seniors take off their shoes and leave them on the field as they march off, literally and figuratively leaving their footprints on the field. Pretty cool, huh? All in all, a great day...the dancing letters were back in the 4th quarter end zone, the Glitter Boys were cruising the aisles, and the 'Noles came out with a win to close out the home season. Though I truly love my 'Noles, unfortunately I'm not holding out much hope as we travel to the Swamp to face the Gators next weekend, but I'll keep my fingers crossed. It wouldn't be the first time we've upset the Gators in the Swamp!

Lastly, I can't take credit for these awesome pictures, except of course for the one of that stunning bracelet, which you can find on the Happy Shack Designs website. :-) The game shots were taken by Abby Reynolds of the Tallahassee Democrat. See more great shots from today's game here! This site also has a good "Old School" gallery filled with old Florida State shots. DH is headed to the Jaguars game tomorrow so we both get our football fix this weekend!

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Free Bling Friday Number 28!

It's Free Bling Friday time! Last week's winner is Carla M. from Jacksonville, FL. Congratulations, Carla! This week's entry combines tanzanite Swarovski crystal rondelles with lt purple Czech glass teardrop briolettes, all wrapped up in 14K gold-filled accents. They hang a little over 2" on 14K gold-filled French wires. To be eligible to win this pair, simply email me by midnight Thursday, November 22, with the subject line FREE BLING and include where you're from. Good luck and be sure to register before you tire out from all that Thanksgiving Day turkey! ! Don't want to miss a single Free Bling Friday? Sign up for free weekly email updates here!

Wyanne Thompson on Quick Sale!

I recently wrote about Wyanne Thompson, the artist I discovered on Etsy who just so happens to live right up the road from me. Well, I have some great news for you! She's closing her Ebay store, moving everything to Etsy, and EVERYTHING in her Ebay store is currently on sale. Very fun, very affordable art. Great holiday gifts or just something fun for yourself. Act fast because the sale is only running for a few days. Don't miss out! I bought, um, several.... Visit her Ebay store here.

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Jungle Love and Other New Pieces!

I was up late last night (and early this morning!) updating my Etsy store with new pieces since I have an Etsy Showcase spot today. Yeah! I'll have the website updated with these pieces soon, but for now, check out my Etsy store here for lots of new pieces.

I've named this piece "Jungle Love". Now if you are near my age, you should be dancing in your seat right now humming Morris Day and the Times "Jungle Love"! Oh those days of dancing late night at Clyde's in Tallahassee...

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Behind the Camera: Halloween!

Of course, you know I think I have the world's most beautiful children (don't we all?), so I thought I'd share some Halloween and Fall Festival pictures with you. The girlies dressed up as princesses for Halloween, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty to be exact. Before Halloween night even arrived, they had three rounds of "trick-or-treating"--Spooktacular at the Zoo (top), trick or treating on my campus, and their Fall Festival at their school--so we convinced them to stay home that night with the carrot of a movie and popcorn! Yeah! Though we still have enough candy to last the year...

This one surprised me, since Livvie usually doesn't like large customed characters. For those of you not from Jacksonville, that's Jaxson deVille, the Jacksonville Jaguars mascot.

Here with the JU Dolphin, Sarah's giving her best "Don't you know I'm a DIVA and way too important to pose for pictures with some big stuffed dolphin" pout.

And lastly I thought this was one too cute: their VPK class on a hayride at their Fall Festival at school. The girls are hanging out with their teacher on the left. Thanks for indulging me!

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Free Bling Friday Number 27!

It's Free Bling Friday time! Last week's winner is Carol I. from Jacksonville, FL. Congratulations, Carol! This week's entry combines deep purple-gray peacock coin pearls with Swarovski crystal rondelles and Balinese sterling silver beadcaps. They hang a little over 2" on sterling French wires.

To be eligible to win this pair, simply email me by midnight Thursday, November 15, with the subject line FREE BLING and include where you're from. Good luck! Don't want to miss a single Free Bling Friday? Sign up for free weekly email updates here!

Bettina Welker's Polymer Clay Magic

In my ever-strengthening addiction to Etsy, I often come across other jewelry designers that I think are truly awesome. Bettina Welker of beadworx is one of them. She's in Germany and by day is a graduate graphic designer running a small advertising agency for classical and new media. By night, she creates some truly stunning pieces using polymer clay as her medium of choice. Check out this gorgeous piece! Oh, if only I had my own personal money tree to spend on Etsy finds.... Check out more of Bettina's work in her Etsy store here and on her website here.

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The Trouble with my Restless Mind.... that I get bored way too easily. I've been getting more and more fascinated by collage work here lately. Recently, a friend and one of my dedicated blog readers (thanks, Cristi!) was looking for a new home for a large variety of collage supplies she was no longer using. She emailed me and asked if I knew anyone who might be interested, and never one to turn down a good deal on art supplies, no matter what they are for, I took the bait! So much fun stuff! Then, of course, it took me a while to get to it and get it all organized, so by that time, as I was going through everything, I kept saying to myself, "No, what was this for again?!?!" And my DH pointed out that taking advantage of this opportunity was such a great idea because, "Sure, Kelly, you just have so much free time on your hands! Why not add another project to your list?" The sarcasm was thicker than my favorite brownie batter. So I came up with an idea to incorporate collage into my jewelry, kinda sorta....I'll keep you guessing on that one until I finally get around to it. Ya know, 'cause I have so much free time on my hands to try out new projects.

I came across Linda Woods' collage art on Etsy and immediately liked the simplicity of it. I checked a couple of her websites and saw that she also wrote a book called Journal Revolution. Looked really interesting, so I had to order it. I've been a writer my entire life and have always kept a journal of sorts, but this concept of keeping an art journal is intriguing. Could be another project to add to my list. You know, 'cause like I said, I have so much free time on my hands. :-)

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Halifax Arts Festival—Great Show!

Whitney and I traveled down to the 45th Annual Halifax Arts Festival in historic downtown Daytona Beach this weekend and had a fabulous show! The weather was perfect, the crowds were wonderful and full of happy shoppers, and the hospitality was top-notch. Of all the shows I do, this one is by far the best run. This was my second year and I hope to be back for many more. Set up is incredibly easy, volunteers are plentiful and stop by your booth four to five times a day, the mix of work is just right, they do a great job jurying, and the advertising is extensive. They also do a very nice artists' reception Saturday evening with wine and heavy appetizers. It’s organized by the Guild of the Museum of Arts and Sciences and run totally by volunteers of the organization.

And as with many of the shows I do, I always meet incredibly talented artists whose work I love to marvel over. Let’s just say there were way too many I truly loved this time, so I’ll force myself to narrow this down to just two! First, Augusto Sanchez. Oh…my…gosh. I absolutely fell over backwards when I saw his work. He paints the most ethereal and colorful angels I’ve ever seen, and then adds mixed media elements into the paintings. Oh how I would love to have an original, but I was quite certain DH would limit me to a strict prison work release program if I came home with a $3,000 painting so I had to settle for two prints and cards. The green themed angel above is the original I would have walked away with, though the blue themed was a close second. One of his paintings included the words “While we are sleeping, angels have conversations with our souls.” These truly did speak to me. Visit Augusto’s website here to view all his angels and read more about him. And if I have a very wealthy benefactor out there who's in a generous mood, the "Green Dreams" angel would be a great addition to my home.... :-)

I also met Chrissie Grace and loved her work as well. This was one of my favorite pieces in her booth and since we don’t have any “brothers” in our brood, she’s doing a custom piece for me. Can’t wait to get it! I love the idea of the “Family Rules” in such a colorful, playful presentation. Chrissie is a mixed media mosaic artist who also works some in collage. Visit her website here. She’s also on Etsy here, but for now, just look in the SOLD works to see some samples as she currently doesn’t have anything listed, but mark her as one your favorites to check back later! Chrissie is nationally recognized and is now working on her second book teaching mosiac tile art! You go, girl! You can order the first on her website.

All in all, a great weekend! Whitney and I enjoyed having time to catch up here and there, we had great sales, met some wonderful new friends, enjoyed fabulous weather, ate great pizza and some amazingly decadent fresh chocolates. What more can you ask? See you next year Halifax friends!

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