Out With the Old...In With the New

Isn’t that what New Year’s is all about? New beginnings? I definitely have some planned. First, I thought those of you following the dollhouse progress would like to see some pictures of it fully loaded. You can click on the pictures themselves for a larger view. The girls had been watching me redecorate the walls and floors (still haven’t finished that darn molding…), but Santa brought all the furniture. The house was sitting next to the tree Christmas morning all decked out when the girls got up before dawn. I did the furniture shopping in a variety of places, but the majority of it came from Maria’s Dolls here in Jacksonville in Avondale. A friend of mine told me about Maria’s and I’m so glad I stopped in! The piano, living room furniture, dining room table and chairs and the animals all came from Maria's. We started out with two dogs and two cats, and are currently down to one dog…I think the girls put the other three animals in the Christmas tree…

My favorite pieces are the three hand painted pieces I found on Etsy. And my most favorite is definitely the painted dresser in the blue room. The same artist painted the dresser and the trunk on the upstairs landing. I’ll definitely be keeping my eye out for more little lovelies in her store; she‘s from Maine and her name is Grazhina. The girls have enjoyed redecorating constantly and it’s been fun watching them. They really play well together when playing with this dollhouse so that’s definitely a blessing.

I have to say the most magical Christmas morning moment did not involve the dollhouse. Any of you who have been reading this blog for any length of time or who know my girls know of Sarah’s attachment to Bunny. We had two bunnies for a while: Bunny Susan and Sister Bunny. Sister Bunny went missing a few months ago. Still haven’t found her. So believe it or not, the only thing Sarah asked Santa for Christmas was a new sister for Bunny Susan. Well, Santa came through. Acting as one of his little helpers, I found the exact same bunny at JCPenney’s, the last two actually, and bought them both…never know when we’ll need another one! Christmas morning, the new bunny was sitting on the piano next to the tree. DH and I had gotten up at 5am to turn the tree lights on and then just layed in bed watching…with a perfect view of the tree and the new bunny…until the girls came down.

Sarah came down first. She must have seen the bunny from the top of the stairs. When I first saw her, she was standing at the bottom of the stairs just looking at that bunny, dirty old Bunny Susan in hand. Then she slowly walked over to the piano…walking right past the dollhouse…and gently picked up the new bunny. She just stood there for a minute, looking at the new bunny and then looking at Bunny Susan. Then she turned around and ran into our room saying, “Mommy! Santa brought Bunny Susan a sister!” As DH would say, “bring a tear to a glass eye…” I think Livvie’s favorite present has been the dollhouse. She’s a great redecorator. I'll post some Christmas morning pictures and video when I get my film developed!

So about this New Year’s stuff…really makes your reevaluate your life, doesn’t it? I’ve been very lucky to have three weeks off over the holidays and I’ve spent a lot of time thinking and doing the things I love to do most…create stuff. My mind has not stopped thinking of new ideas. My only problem is, with a full-time job and twin four-year-olds, there’s just not enough time in the day to do the things I’d like to do. So I hope to become better organized with my time. I guess that’s my biggest New Year’s resolution. Santa brought DH and I a couple big ticket items for Christmas...a new flat screen TV for him and a new computer and camera for me. So with the help of my new computer and camera, you’ll be seeing lots of new things coming to my website and Etsy store. Things other than jewelry, too! Just have to find the time to bring the creations out of my brain and onto my workbench.

This is a time of renewal…out with the old and in with the new. So in addition to your trips to Goodwill to declutter your closets and your house (I can’t be the only person who does a major declutter at the first of the year…), I hope you make time to pursue your dreams and your passions and what truly brings you joy. I plan to, and I hope to help my family do the same. Best Wishes for a very Happy New Year! Like this post? Click here to sign up for free weekly email reminders.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

I'm going to be taking a break from the blog for a few days to celebrate Christmas with my family, but I wanted to leave you with one last beautiful image. I've admired this artist's work for a while now. Shellie Mitchell combines fabric, paint and wood to create some gorgeous and unique pieces of artwork! I have quite the fabric stash myself so I love to see what she does with hers. Probably too late to shop her store for Christmas, but keep her in mind for future gifts or something wonderful for yourself. Visit her shop here and her blog here. Come December 26, if you didn't get what you wanted for Christmas, remember to go shopping on Etsy to support artists and craftsmen. Buy handmade, not China made! And of course, stop by Happy Shack Designs! I'll be having an after Christmas sale! I hope you all have a wonderful holiday with family and friends!

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Furniture is Arriving...

I finished the floors on the dollhouse last night and will be working on the molding today (in between completing one showstopper bracelet and showstopper necklace order that came in at the last minute...yeah!). This beautiful little armoire arrived in my mailbox yesterday. It's even prettier in person. The doors open to see all the little trinkets she included, which are thankfully attached to the shelves so they don't get lost. I found it on Etsy, of course. Made by Miss M. Turner of Phoenix Fire Designs, it'll make a lovely addition to one of the rooms. Or all but the kitchen, I guess, as I'm sure the girls will be redecorating daily. :-) See more of Miss M.'s work here on Etsy and here on her website. And no, I did not pay $999 for this piece! I think that's just how Miss M. keeps her work in her shop to show everyone what she can do. I have my eye on a couple other pieces on Etsy but I'm waiting until after Christmas to get those.

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Work in Progress...

We're getting there! I don't think I ever even stopped to eat lunch yesterday! DH and the girls got home about 4pm and played with me for a little while and then I finally came up for dinner about 8:15pm, then went back downstairs and went back to work! Here's what we've got so far...no floors or molding yet, but the walls are almost done!

I started with these two rooms (below)...the smallest! Since I've never really worked with paper, I wanted to start small. This will be the bathroom and one bedroom. The laminate flooring is a leftover from the previous decor!

This is the attic room. I just realized there are no stairs going up to it! It was here I learned that paper really does make a difference. I had been using card stock up until this point. I initially did that back wall with the window with just regular paper stock and couldn't get rid of the bubbles so I tore that out and put this funky card stock in.

This was my first big challenge and light bulb over the head moment. I hadn't noticed that archway until I really looked at the room and then said, "Yikes! A straight line cut that is not!" I looked around my workshop and, as luck would have it, the lid of a coil of copper wire was the perfect fit for the arch. It was about 9:30pm by that time, so I had to run upstairs and wake up DH and show him my ingenuity!

And lastly, this room is my biggest challenge. This is the largest room and not only has the staircase in the middle of it, but also has two little nooks. One, to the back right in this picture, seems to have no purpose other than to aggravate me. The other is the front door foyer around the corner to the left behind the stairs...hmm...maybe if I take the front door off. More updates to come!

Time's Running Out!

Well, it is December 18, and I can procrastinate no longer! My biggest goal for this Christmas was to get my sister's old dollhouse refurbished for the girls. My sister never took it with her when she moved out of Mom's house, so when Mom died, it came to me. It lived at my good friend Jim's house in Tallahassee for a year or two while his daughter Morgan played with it, and then a couple years after my girls were born, it traveled back to us. It's been sitting in my garage for two years now! First, the Granddad said he was going to refurbish it and give it to the girls last Christmas. He got distracted (like me, he easily does) and never got around to it, so he brought it back up to me this summer, and I've been staring at it ever since.

Now this latest batch of procrastination hasn't been entirely my fault. First I had to wait for DH to clean out the old stuff (very ugly 1980 wallpaper and flooring) and then sand the walls and floors so I could bring it back to life. Then I had to visit numerous arts and crafts stores looking for just the right papers and flooring. And then there was the hunt for just the right furniture, which is still not completed. And then, of course, it is Christmas time after all, so I've had lots of Christmas shopping and wrapping to do. You know, so I have been busy! But really, I'm just a professional procrastinator; I truly could have started it last week. I just work best under pressure!

Anywho, I thought I'd show you some before and after pictures. I wish I would have thought about this before DH pulled out the old wallpaper and flooring, but oh well. We have saved the kitchen intact. I just don't think we can safely pull out the cabinetry, so maybe we'll just have a retro 80's kitchen and keep that snazzy brown, green and orange metallic floral wallpaper, the same wall paper that was in my kitchen in high school on Dillon Drive. I'll save that for last and see what I think. To give you some scale, the house is rather large; it's about 3 1/2 feet wide x 2 1/2 feet tall. My stepfather #1, John, built it in 1980 and it's structurally very solid and the exterior still looks great. Just some minor clean up work needed there. Now my job is to make the interior look fabulous again. Somehow over the next three days, since we'll be traveling this weekend... I"ll keep you updated with pictures as we go!

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Free Bling Friday Number 32!

Free Bling Friday time! Last week's winner is Ellie B. from Orlando, Florida. Yeah, Ellie! This week's entry will bring you a touch of royalty. I've combined gorgeous purple and gold hand-torched lampwork beads with 14K gold-filled accents and Swarovski crystals for sparkle. They hang approximately 1 1/2" total in length on 14K gold-filled French wires. To be eligible to win this pair, simply email me by midnight Thursday, December 20, 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!

Diana Martin's Little Lovelies

The girls are having a mermaid barbie fairy Christmas this year. I can tell you this because they can't read yet. ;-) I stumbled across this beauty last night searching for mermaid costumes on Etsy. Didn't find the costumes, but I did find artist Diana Martin. This little gem is an ACEO; I selected another of her ACEOs as well (and one day I'm actually going to get all my ACEOs organized into a nice book...or box...or something spectacular). I had already picked out two other mermaid ACEOs from smARTee, and those arrived in my mailbox today, along with two wonderful little handmade polymer clay ACEO stands Robin made. I think Santa is going to put those on the girls' dressers Christmas Eve so that will be the first things they see when they wake up. Either that or by the fairy doors I will also have to install Christmas Eve, fairy dust and all. It'll be a busy night!

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Garden Goddess Mosaics--Great Gifts!

While I would certainly love for you to buy all your Christmas gifts for the women in your lives at the Happy Shack, I understand that sometimes my pieces are a little expensive for gifts! Better for you to buy them to reward yourself! So I've found another wonderful artist with the perfect little gift for female friends and family. Garden Goddess's tile pendants are very, very cute and very, very affordable! These little gems are only $6.99! Based on her profile she also has a great personality. Here's what she has to say:

"My name is Erica and I am a Wife, Mom, and Nursing student..AKA Mosaic Artist/Hand painted Tile creator/designer. I was born in Long Beach, California, and grew up in Alabama. I have always come from a genetically artistic family with my mom studying art in Chicago and my brother studying in New York.... Apparently my brother got most of the artistic genes LOL!! He received a masters in Art and became an incredible sculptor in New York (I am SO very proud of him!!!). On the other hand, I have come to find and create art as a hobby, and painting mosaic tiles is my GREAT Stress buster!! My best friend taught me how to make my first mosaic and I never stopped!!!! My passion has been painting faux finishes on walls and beautifying my outdoor living spaces with mosaic art for several years now.

I first started making mosaics with stained glass and pouring my own special mix of concrete when the mosaic bug bit me 4 years ago. I also create and hand paint mosaic tiles for others for their special projects! It is so rewarding to see what they create! I have met some super mosaic friends along the way and I love to share and teach my passion with others!! I LOVE to create new projects and have become a super duper multi-tasker! If you peeked in on me you would see me painting 5 tile projects at one time (just at different times of the day and maybe several mosaic projects in the other room)! I will finish my BSN in Nursing next year!"

Show her some love! Visit her Etsy store here and pick up some last minute gifts. Like this post? Click here to sign up for free weekly email reminders.

Buying Handmade for Christmas

I've been doing pretty good in my pledge to buy handmade for Christmas this year. I have managed to find something handmade for everyone on my Dad's side and my DH and even a few things for the girls. I got a print from this artist, Ron Krajewski, for the family member whose name I drew. I don't think that person reads this blog but in the event that he or she does, this is NOT the print I got! But this one does look just like our old yellow lab Bear, who we lost just after the girls were born. Read about him here. Ron has tons and tons of animal prints from his paintings very affordably priced and he shipped lightning quick so there's still time to shop for Christmas! He also has a few originals listed as well. One thing to note: most of his prints are listed in a 8 x 10 size, but I asked him for an 11 x 14 size and he was happy to accommodate lickedy split. See all his work in his Ebay store.

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New Works by Up-and-Coming Artists

Since I love to profile outstanding artists and craftsmen here, I thought I'd share these two little jewels with you. Twin sisters, these artists share a very similar style. They work primarly in Crayola and newsprint and seem to be most heavily influnced by Picasso's early works, particularly his animals and sealife series. Note their choices of rabbit and mermaid as compared to Picasso's Rooster, and well as their advanced use of line and texture, with spectacular color stories.

Though I sense some outside assistance in these works, it's obvious these two young masters in the making have very long, successful careers ahead of them. I'll be sure to keep you updated on new works. :-)

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Juicy Crittoure: Entirely Too Funny

I saw this on my friend Bronwyn's blog and thought it was rather entertaining. Watch the video here. You can purchase the actual products here. Enjoy! Like this post? Click here to sign up for free weekly email reminders.

Free Bling Friday Number 31!

Free Bling Friday time! Last week's winner is Rhonda F. from Milton, Ontario, Canada! Yeah, Rhonda! This week's entry is another fun one just in time for Christmas. I've combined yummy pink chalcedony semi-precious gemstone briolettes with red polymer clay roses and creamy freshwater pearls. They'll be perfect for your family Christmas dinner! They hang approximately 1 1/2" total in length on sterling French wires. To be eligible to win this pair, simply email me by midnight Thursday, December 13, 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!

Amazingly Affordable Art

You, yes you, can get amazingly affordable original art on Etsy! Take a gander at this little gem. This is an 8 x 10 original piece of art for $5! Yes, $5! It's by an Etsy seller named smArtee. Here's her bio: "I love art, all kinds. I love makin it, keepin it, buyin it, and sellin it. I love color, line and shape, and nothin else matters. I work in the mental health field but art is my therapy. Oh, and I love bubbles...."

She has lots more where this one came from. Take a look at all her art here. I just bought two of her ACEO's (what's an ACEO?) and a cute little ACEO stand, the perfect gift for my mermaid loving neighbor for less than $15, including shipping! Three pieces of original art for less than $15! Now go buy out her store.....

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Mindless Drivel...but Handsome Mindless Drivel

Since I have no profound thoughts or wonderful Etsy finds to share with you today, I just wanted to share my joy in this People magazine cover. I've had a crush on Matt Damon since Good Will Hunting, so I was very pleased to see this. Has nothing to do with the fact that he looks a heck of a lot like a younger version of my DH, of course. And I'm a big Robin Roberts fans too...

And for your laughs, I got this from my assistant today and it totally cracked me up. I can especially relate to the very last line. Enjoy!

Q: How many women with PMS does it take to change a light bulb?

Woman's Answer: One! Only one!!!! And do you know why? Because no one else in this house knows how to change a light bulb! They don't even know that the bulb is burned out!! They would sit in the dark for three days before they figured it out. And, once they figured it out, they wouldn't be able to find the #&%!* light bulbs despite the fact that they've been in the same cabinet for the past 17 years! But if they did, by some miracle of God, actually find them, two days later the chair they used to change the stupid light bulb would still be in the same spot!!!!! And underneath it would be the wrapper the freakin’ blubs came in!!! Because no one ever picks up or carries out the garbage!!!! It’s a wonder we haven’t all suffocated from the piles of garbage that are a foot deep throughout the entire house!!! It would take an army to clean this place! And don’t even get me started on who changes the toilet paper roll……!!!!

I'm sorry. What was the question?

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Fun Art by Sandra Spencer

I took Isabelle to the vet this morning to get spayed...I know, I know, poor little girl, but we must do it! I was reminded why when I got to the vet's office and saw the little display they had done on spaying and neutering your pets. Did you know that in the Jacksonville area alone, more than 27,000 homeless pets are euthanized every year? Every year! It was more than 500,000 nationwide...per year! Those numbers broke my heart. Take care of your pets!

I'm currently bidding on this painting on Ebay. The auction ends tomorrow so keep your fingers crossed for me! I already have one of Sandra Spencer's paintings, but this one is most definitely Isabelle....in blue. She's up to 48.1 pounds already. I'll have to post a new picture of her soon, but here she is as a puppy. See more of Sandra's work on Ebay here, on Etsy here, and on her website here.

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