Christmas Memories...

It’s been a busy week around here. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and are looking forward to an even better New Year. My sister and father visited us the weekend after Christmas. Dad came in late Friday and left early Sunday, and Kim came in late Friday and left Monday morning. It was great to have a whole day with just my sister on Sunday. We get that so rarely.

Of course, the girls had a great Christmas full of entirely too many presents…the majority of which weren’t even from us! Christmas Eve we had a quick visit with our friends Debbie and Bill before heading over for a visit with our friends Ted and Carole and their kids. Santa comes through Ted and Carole’s neighborhood on a fire truck…loud and festive! Carole baked a birthday cake, and we sang Happy Birthday to Jesus, a tradition in their house which I’d like to adopt for ours. We’ve been constantly reminding the girls that Christmas is not about the presents, but that’s hard for a five-year-old to grasp, huh!? I think the birthday cake was a great way to remind them the true reason for the holiday. DH's Dad spent Christmas Eve with us as well so he could be at the house when girls got up Christmas morning.

We tried to keep our gift-giving primarily limited to the kids this year, with DH and I just exchanging one gift. I got smart this year and gave him a sale circular with what I wanted circled clearly, and it worked! Under the tree for me was a tripod and a new telephoto lens for my Nikon. He’s been talking constantly about wanting to get an iPod, so I took that as a hint and got him that and his traditional car care pack (yes, I realize that makes two gifts from each of us, but who’s counting). The girls came away with tons of clothes, toys, and art supplies…and new bikes from Santa.

The best thing I received though was a surprise gift from my sister. She told me she planned to make photo books for the girls with pictures of them from her wedding. They came out beautifully. But the surprise was for me. She made me a book as well, but instead of pictures from her wedding, it was full of old pictures of our Mom, along with pictures of us as kids and pictures of our Nana and Granddaddy. As timing would have it, we exchanged gifts on Saturday, the anniversary of Mom’s death. When I opened Kim’s gift, I realized after turning one page that I couldn’t look at it right then without breaking down, so I had to set it aside. We looked at it later together and were able to laugh over some of the older pictures. Because of our ten-year age gap, Kim and I weren’t very close when we were younger, but now, in strange part much due to our mother’s death, we’ve grown much closer and I’m very thankful for that. The photo here is of Mom’s nursing pinning ceremony. It's my favorite picture from the book.

As they say, out with the old, and in with the new! As the New Year arrives, I wish you the best of everything this world has to offer you, with a dose of laughter and humility to keep you sane and grounded. On to 2009!

Merry, Merry....

Here’s a little peek at the merriness at our house on this Christmas Eve. And here’s to wishing you the merriest of Christmas holidays. I hope it brings you much joy, much love, and much hope for the New Year to come. May your days be filled with laughter, your nights be full of peace, your hearts be full of wonder, and your lives be full of blessings. Happy Birthday, Jesus, for you are the true meaning behind the reason for the celebration.

Lost in Bed, Bath, and Beyond

Well, put me in the Worst Mama Ever category today. I lost my children in Bed, Bath and Beyond. We were shopping for sheets, reveling in the feel of the new “Beech” sateen that feels like silk but washes up like easy-care cotton. We had just finished singing Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer along with Muzak, even holding hands while we were singing, and then POOF! The next thing I knew, they had disappeared. I tried to remain calm, quietly calling for them as I knew they had to be just one or two aisles over playing hide-and-go-seek from me. But when I couldn’t find them anywhere in the linens section, I started calling their names a little more forcefully while quickly looking up and down the aisles.

An excruciating moment later, I heard “Kelly, please come to Customer Service. Your children are waiting for you.” over the PA system. Linens was in the back of the store; Customer Service was in the front of the store. How the heck did they get all the way up there? Along with the flood of relief came the red-faced pang of embarrassment. I was certain every woman around me was saying to herself, “What kind of mother would loose her children in Bed, Bath and Beyond?” When I saw them, I could tell that Livvie was on the verge of a tearful breakdown while Sarah had that “Oops, I think I’m about to get in trouble again” look on her face.

That’s the thing with twins. Now, I’m sure those of you who have children fairly close in age may experience this as well, but let me tell ya, there’s something different about that twin bond that will allow one to lead the other over a cliff in a heartbeat. My instigator, as you may have already guessed, is most definitely Sarah. Sometimes she’s so darned sneaky that, even though I may be incredibly ticked off at her in the moment, I’m secretly impressed at her thought process. She thought she could sneak away, drag her willing sister with her, have a little adventure in the store, and then casually wait up front like a little angel waiting for the first snow of Christmas. Case in point, dinner last night. I was trying to get her to eat just two little bites of peas and corn, just two little bites! She put the first one in her mouth, sloshed it around in there for a millennium, and then put the second bite in there before swallowing the first. We have these little battles often. Put food in mouth. Chew food incessantly. Put that “I’m gonna gag” face on. And then either finally swallow it or spit it out. Since I only asked her to eat two bites, I figured that was not too much to swallow, so I told her she didn’t have to eat anymore but she could not get up from the table until she swallowed what was in her mouth. I know, Worst Mama Ever again for trying to get my children to eat just a little bite of something other than PB&J or grilled cheese. A moment later she said, “Done, Mommy!” and opened her empty mouth to show me. I gave her a hearty congratulations on her success and asked her to bring her plate and cup to the sink. She dropped the plate in the sink, dumped the milk cup in the sink, and with a big smile of her face, quickly headed to the pantry to get a cookie for dessert. It was then that I looked in the sink and immediately realized she had not swallowed squat. She had simply spit it into her milk cup! So yep, there I was outwardly angry that she had lied to me, but secretly darn impressed that she thought of that! I told her that I did not appreciate her lying to me and sent her off to an early bed. Livvie, of course, reveled in the whole situation because she quickly realized she now had Mama and Daddy to herself for the rest of the night.

So back to our little adventure this morning….we had planned to go to Chick-Fil-A for lunch, their reward for being good little angels while we were out running errands this morning, but the disappearing act nixed that, and it was straight home for, what else, a cold PB&J before an early nap. I managed to keep my calm through a very quiet lunch and then put them down for a nap, in separate rooms, telling them both how much they scared me when I couldn’t find them in the store. I hope I put the fear of God in them, for I’m not sure my heart can take that again anytime soon.

We have two weeks at home together over these Christmas holidays. I’ve often wondered how stay-at-moms do it. Yeah, I definitely have quite the juggling act working full-time at the college, managing my jewelry business part-time and raising twin five-year-olds, but here I am on our first day home together and I’ve already lost them in a major department store! I think we’ll stay home the rest of the Christmas break and just make lots of art. Maybe I’ll put chains on all the exterior doors while I’m at it…you know, just to be sure.

Angel on the Metro

Dear Mr. Fung Chow,

My family and I came upon you in a Washington, D.C. Metro stop on Sunday afternoon, October 12. We were a bedraggled family of four—a dad grumpy from having to lug a double stroller up and down the Metro’s escalator stairs, two little redheads cranky from no naps and lots of activities in the big city, and a mom tired and run down from trying to keep everyone together, sane, fed and happy near the end of a long day of sight-seeing .

We were changing train lines and had to maneuver through three different sets of escalators when we met you. My husband had just tossed the stroller up against the wall near where you were standing, and I looked at you with apologetic eyes as I picked the stroller up and leaned it against the wall. You smiled sweetly at me. You asked me what brought us to the city, and when I told you about my sister’s wedding the previous day, you said, “Oh, I bet she looked so beautiful. And how did you two meet?” As I started telling you how my husband and I met, my daughters came over to my side. It was then that you pulled two little envelopes out of your jacket pocket and gave one to each of my girls. I have to admit, I was a bit hesitant at first, a complete stranger in the Metro giving something to my children, but after a moment’s hesitation, I saw the little light shining in your eyes. My girls looked at the beautiful little red envelopes with Asian characters on them, and not knowing what they were, looked at me in confusion. When you suggested they open them, they looked at me for guidance, and I told them it was okay. Of course, all they paid attention to was the dollar bill you had slipped inside each one, but I saw the other card in there as well and briefly read the side that included your name, address, email and position: “Retired Federal Civil Servant”.
Our train was approaching the station, so we didn’t really have time to say much more than “Thank You” as we gathered up our stroller and children and boarded the train. I watched you for a moment as you entered the train at the rear of our car. As soon as you boarded, you started cheerfully talking to the people around you. I tried to catch snippets of your conversation but couldn’t hear over the noise of the train. But I could see you, a big smile on your face as you brought smiles to the faces of everyone around you. Best I could tell, you got off at the next stop, disappearing like an angel, and it was then that I took the time to read what you had given us. It was a chart of all the Chinese New Years complete with the year, date of the New Year, the animal representing it, and the characteristics of those born in that year. Through it, I learned that I was born in the year of the Snake and am “wise, passionate, determined and attractive”; that my husband was born in the year of the Dog and is “dependable, protective, tender, private and eccentric”; and lastly, that my daughters were born in the year of the Sheep and will grow up to be “sensitive, have success in the arts, aesthetic, and charitable”. I marveled at the similarities to our personalities.

When we got back to my sister’s apartment, my girls drew pictures for you to thank you for your kindness. I'm mailing those to you today along with this letter. I’ve kept the cards you gave us, along with these pictures, in a little zippered pouch in my purse ever since you gave them to us. I even convinced my girls to let me keep the dollar bills in there so we could save everything as a reminder of the blessing we received from you that day. I’m not sure why you chose us. Maybe it was the frustration and tiredness you saw on our faces; maybe you were just waiting for a family with two small children to come by; or maybe you truly were an angel, sent to remind us that no matter the troubles that may come our way, someone is always watching over us, and that a simple gift of friendly kindness can make a huge impression on someone else’s life, as you have on mine.

I think of you often, dear sir, and whenever I’m having a bad day, I pull those beautiful little red envelopes out of their pouch in my purse and read them again. I’ll save them to give to my children when they are old enough to truly appreciate the gesture. And I’ll tell them this story about the angel we met on the Metro in Washington, D.C. when they were five years old. Thank you, Mr. Franklin Fung Chow, for you truly are a blessing, and I’m quite certain there were gossamer wings underneath your jacket. I wish you the merriest of Christmas holidays and many blessings for the New Year to come.

Update February 8, 2010: A Small World Involving Franklin, here.

Update November 30, 2011: The Loss of Franklin, here.

Update February 3, 2012: A Little Miracle About Franklin, here.

Behind the Camera: At Long Last...

I know I promised you all pictures from my sister’s wedding, in which my girlies were flower girls, nearly two months ago, so I’m finally getting around to it. Truth be told, I didn’t get a chance to take very many pictures at the wedding since I was constantly chasing after and dancing with two little redheads, so I had to wait for the photographer to release his pictures to the family. Here are a few of my favorite shots (click on them to enlarge)…

You may have read the post about Bunny’s wild adventure, but the worry over Bunny is constant. As we were all in the dressing room, getting fairly close to walk down the aisle time, I noticed that Sarah did not have Bunny with her. When I asked her where Bunny was, a momentary panic crossed her face before she said, “Oh! I remember where she is! I sat her on the front row so she could see me walk down the aisle with my flowers!”

The room the wedding was in….this is the Reid Ballroom in Washington DC.

I love this one of Kim. The room she got married in was up those stairs and she’s looking down on everyone in the lobby downstairs.

About an hour into the reception, Kim and Rob snagged me and DH, and we snuck outside for some pictures of just the four of us. Doesn’t DH look incredibly uncomfortable in a suit and tie? :-)

Bunny posing with Rob….

We have hundreds of pictures of the girls dancing with anyone who would dance with them (all three of them…Sarah, Livvie and Rob’s niece Olivia), but I think these few sum up the fun they had.

And lastly, Kim and I at the reception…

Later this week, I’m going to finally find the time to tell you about the angel we met on the Metro.

Free Bling Friday Number 57!

It’s Free Bling Friday time! Congrats to Free Bling Number 56 winner, Cat M. from Jacksonville, FL. Cat is a fellow First Coast Art Spot and North Florida Craft Revolution member! Visit her Etsy store here and her blog here. This week’s entry is another pair from my “Shacked Up” series, made from lampwork beads that “go together” rather than “match exactly”, like the perfect couple shackin’ up! This delicate little pair features coral, blue and a little touch of purple, on sterling silver French wires. To cover the holidays, I’m going to run this one for three weeks to get us past the new year. To be eligible to win this pair, my last for the year and maybe my last overall, simply email me or leave a comment in the comment box by midnight Thursday, January 1, with the subject line FREE BLING and include where you're from. The next winner will be drawn Friday, January 2. Don't want to miss a single Free Bling Friday? Click here to sign up for free weekly email reminders. Click here for the Happy Shack Designs website.

Make Time To...

Anxiously awaiting this to arrive at my door. It’s a very good reminder for me. I got it from Aimee Dolich, so go see what other fun stuff she's got! I think it can also be an excellent reminder for you to make time for just about anything that’s important to you, don’t you think? Make time to dream. Make time to pick flowers. Make time to bake cookies. Make time to cuddle on the couch with your children…or your significant other. Make time to throw a stick for your dog….or drag a string for your cat…or talk to your bird. Make time to talk to a friend you haven’t talked to in a while. Make time to make a new friend. Make time to enjoy your dinner…with dessert. Or make time to eat dessert first. Basically, make time to live. I mean really live, not just trudge through another day in this crazy time of the year. Now, go play! And make it count.

Busy Bee, but Very Important News to Share!

It's been very crazy in my world the past few days, so I haven't had time to post, but a friend of mine shared some very important news on her blog. If you believe in the importance of quality handmade goods, particularly for children, please go over and take a look at Jen's article. National blog Cool Mom Pics has a good article on it as well here. Please heed their call to action!

Market Days Bound

For those of you in the Tallahassee area, come by and see me at Market Days! I’ll be in booth 430. This is my first year doing this show, so wish me luck! Here’s just one of the new pieces I’ll have with me this weekend. I have a lot of friends still in Tallahassee so I’m looking forward to catching up with a few while I’m there…well okay, even though I was just there last weekend for that miserably wet three-hour excuse for a football game. But, oh well, I still got my Barnaby’s fix. :-)

Things Mama Can’t Do Anymore

Have I told you I bring the moniker “Dizzy Blonde” to a new level? Yep, I’m officially a medically diagnosed Dizzy Blonde. Now this has nothing to do with my brain, as far as ditzyness goes anyway (though I have been accused of being a space cadet at times…). Nope, this is plain old anatomy and physiology, though I guess in some ways it is brain-related. Right after the girls were born I started having major, fall down on the floor and can’t hold my head up vertigo spells. Really nasty stuff. The first one happened when the girls were about eight weeks old and I was home alone with them. Very scary day. After stumbling my way to the bathroom to pray to the porcelain god, I managed to get to the phone to call DH and tell him to hurry home while the room spun around me. I then spent the next 24 hours in the hospital. Vertigo’s one of those “sometimes we have no idea what causes it” things. So after about three years, several doctors and two brain scan MRIs later, I finally ended up at the Mayo Clinic Hearing and Balance Center here in Jacksonville last fall. After about 10 questions and one very entertaining demonstration where I was asked to close my eyes and march in place for 60 counts (I ended up facing the opposite direction and on the far side of the room, thinking I was still standing in the same spot), I realized I finally found the right doctor. When she said, “So, do you get nauseous when you scroll up or down on the computer?” “OMG!!!!! YES!!!” (I realized this may come as a big surprise to those of you who know how much time I spend on the computer.) Then she said, “Aren’t you glad you finally found the right place! You aren’t crazy after all!” Yeah!

Now that I had found the right doctor, the next week the real fun began. I had two full days of tests to try to determine what was causing my spins. Let me just say two words: rotator chair. I’ll spare you the details of all the tests and just tell you that they split them up into two days for a reason. Because they have to bring on the vertigo to determine what’s happening to me while I’m in the spins, there was a heck of a lot of spinning going on in those two days…which translated to a heck of a lot of, you know, that porcelain god worship stuff. All in all, even though I couldn’t hold food down for about three days, it was a totally fascinating experience. Once the computer spit out the tallied results of all my testing, we learned that I had lost nearly 70% of my balance function in my left ear and about 35% in my right ear (which I guess explains why I always spin to the left and tend to misjudge corners on the left, constantly banging my left shoulder and left thigh on walls and corners of counters…and DH always said it was just my natural clumsiness…humph!) The probable cause? Years of inner ear infections; I remember having them from childhood all the way through college and beyond. Fixable? No. Treatable, somewhat.

It took them about three months to get me on the right dosage of the medicine (Klonopin, a drug which I recently learned is highly sought after on college campuses for reasons very different than the treatment of vertigo, and to think, I get it for $4 a bottle!), so since March I’ve been doing fairly well. I still have occasional vertigo spells but they are not nearly as severe as they used to be. So, here’s the next chapter in the saga! Brooks Rehab just opened a Balance Center conveniently in the same building and on the same floor as the Mayo Clinic balance center. When I went in for my six-month check up last month, my doc decided I should give Brooks’ vestibular rehab therapy program a shot (Google vestibular rehab therapy; that’s what I had to do). Last week was my first appointment, primarily an evaluative get-to-know-you session with my lovely therapist Ann. Yesterday was my second appointment. No easy evaluative stuff this time, more like the beginnings of the torture I now see in my future. After some basic stuff where I’m sure I just looked rather clownish because I have very little balance when I close my eyes and Ann made me close my eyes and do all sorts of stuff, she put me in this voting booth-like contraption. Picture a large 3-sided, walled booth with a landscape scene painted on it. Now, take into consideration that not only does this landscape scene move toward you and away from you as well as side to side, but the floor you are standing on also rocks in all different directions. Now come on! This would make the average person hurl, wouldn’t it? So what the heck do you think it’s going to do to someone who already has issues!? Geez! Anywho, my job was to focus on the little blue man in the little red box on the computer panel directly in front of me and do my best to keep him in the little red box while the walls and floor moved in various directions. (You dizzy yet? Here, pop a Klonopin; it’ll settle you down…and put you to sleep…) Mama was not happy with the little blue man. So then to make it even more interesting, Ann told me to close my eyes and try to keep my balance as best I could as she moved the walls and the floors. Close my eyes? I’m still nauseous. And this is supposed to help me how?

Ann tells me each week will get more “challenging”. How do you define “challenging” here? So back to the title of this post: Things Mama Can’t Do Anymore. Nope, can’t ride all those fun rides at the fair anymore. We went recently and I thought that maybe I could at least ride the Ferris Wheel with the girls, but no dice. DH would not let me get on it. And as soon as it started moving and I tried to follow the carriage DH and the girls were in with my eyes, I realized he was right (I really hate it when that happens.) So while DH and the girls got to play on the rides, I played with my camera. Got some cools shots, don’t you think? Click on them to enlarge. I used to love that ride where you stand up in that circle thingy and then the circle thingy starts spinning, and then it starts turning on its side and continues spinning, pinning you up against the wall from the sheer velocity. You know, the one in the top picture? Dang I miss that thing… Short of the pinning you up against the wall from the sheer velocity part, it now reminds me somewhat of that darn rotator chair! What are your favorite memories of the fair?

CC Weekly Creativity Challenge: Thanksgiving

My entry for this week's Creative Construction Creativity Challenge....

Thanksgiving night while my family finishes dinner
I look out the door and see one solitary shrimper.
I wonder if he has a family to share a feast with
or if he's just taking shelter for the holiday,
looking longingly at the homes along the river,
wondering what it's like to feel the warmth of kin.

Today Is My Birthday...

"Today is my birthday, and all that I want…is to dig through this big box of pictures in my kitchen ‘til the daylight’s gone.

This one here’s my Mama, with the long brown hair. I’m 40 years older today than she was in that picture there.

But if life stayed the way it was, And lovers never fell out of love, If memories didn’t last so long, If nobody did nobody wrong, If we knew what we had before it was gone, If every road led back home, This would be…the very last country song.

These are all my babies, Lord knows how we survived. The first one was hard and the last one wasn’t planned, what a big surprise. That’s him with his Daddy’s eyes.

I loved the man in this one; it’s faded but I don’t care. There are nights when I wake up and know he’s beside me I swear. Sometimes I still feel him there.

But if life stayed the way it was, And lovers never fell out of love, If memories didn’t last so long, If nobody did nobody wrong, If we knew what we had before it was gone, If every road led back home, This would be…the very last country song.

If we knew what we had before it was gone, If every road led back home, This would be…the very last country song."

From me: If you've heard this song, you know how beautiful it is. It's written and recorded by Sugarland, and I thought it was fitting for me today. The top picture is my Mom at 1 year old. Bottom picture is me at 1 year old. Miss you, Mom...more today than any other day.

More Treasury Love!

I was featured in two more Etsy treasuries last week! Thanks again (and again!) to Karen Faulkner for including me in this first treasury, showcasing my Pink Posies earrings second row left. And then thanks to BululuStudio, a fellow Florida Etsy Street Team member, for including me in the Florida Green's treasury, showcasing my Butterfly Fairy earrings in top row, left. Both earrings are available in both my Etsy store and on my website. Thanks for the Etsy love, ladies!

Kelly 11-24

Kelly 11-29

Sunday Evening Shopping Spree: Etsy for Animals Store

These week’s Sunday Evening Shopping Spree features the Etsy for Animal store! I’ve been a member of this group for about a year now and there are some truly great artists participating. The EFA store is closing, but that’s good news for you! Everything in the EFA store is currently 25% off! This beautiful photo was shot by Heather over at aktie9. Visit the Etsy for Animals store here and pick up a few Christmas presents for a worthy cause! 100% of the sales from this shop benefit the animals.

Free Bling Friday Number 56!

It’s Free Bling Friday time! Congrats to Free Bling Number 55 winner, Lisa S. from Jacksonville, FL. Lisa is a fellow mother of twins! This week’s entry is from my “Shacked Up” series, made from lampwork beads that “go together” rather than “match exactly”, like the perfect couple shackin’ up! Fun, huh? This delicate little pair features purples, blues and a little touch of coral, on sterling silver posts. To be eligible to win this pair, simply email me or leave a comment in the comment box by midnight Thursday, December 11, with the subject line FREE BLING and include where you're from. The next winner will be drawn Friday, December 12. Don't want to miss a single Free Bling Friday? Click here to sign up for free weekly email reminders. Click here for the Happy Shack Designs website. New items listed!

It's the Little Things...

I’ve had this Thanksgiving week off, trying to take care of a few things around the house, doing a little shopping and preparing for my next show. I was in JCPenney’s Tuesday, digging through a pile of jeans in my never-ending quest to find a pair that’s long enough, when a complete stranger paid me a compliment. He was a very handsome fellow, about 6’3”; I had noticed him near the jewelry counter when I walked by there a few minutes earlier (being 5’10” myself, I can’t help but notice tall men). Moments later there he was standing next to me while was I sitting on my knees digging through yet another stack. He said, “I just wanted to tell you that short, curly hair cut is exceptional on you. Your husband is a very lucky man.” Exceptional! I grinned with all I had, said thank you very much, and he walked away leaving me there stunned, a pile of jeans in my lap. Exceptional? I had not done a thing to my hair that morning, just got out of the shower and let it dry by itself, thinking I really needed to find time for a hair cut; I walked out the door with a wet head and minimal makeup. I was wearing an old pink Old Navy t-shirt, beat up old jeans, and 10-year-old Doc Martens. Why do I tell you this? Sure the comment was incredibly flattering, but that’s not my point. My point revolves more around the beat up old jeans, messy hair and minimal makeup.

Yesterday, the girls and I went out shopping. I still didn’t dry my hair, but I did put on a little more makeup, a nicer t-shirt and jeans, and my shiny new red patent leather Mary Janes. The girls, however… The girls are dressing themselves these days. (Click on photo above to enlarge for full effect.) They haven’t really learned the whole “matching” concept yet. I guess as Stacy and Clinton say: “It doesn’t have to match! It just has to go!” Whatever… But it was that compliment I received that made me say, “What the heck, you guys look fabulous, let’s go.” Because it really doesn’t matter what you wear, does it?

So as part of our Thanksgiving prep last night, the girls and I, with a little unnecessary help from DH, made a cake, my Chocolate Orange Cream Cheese Pound cake. Now mind you, DH is definitely the cook in this house, but bake he does not. I’m the pastry chef/cake baker extraordinaire. The girls helped measure and dump all the ingredients into the bowl, with a little splash and dump here and there from DH. We popped it in the oven and then got the girls in bed while it baked. Sixty-three minutes later I pulled it out, and it looked and smelled scrumptous. I went downstairs to crank out another bracelet while it cooled, and when I came back upstairs to take it out of the pan, I discovered it had sunk. And I mean really sunk. It must have been that extra two splashes of orange juice DH threw in there in his “more is better” philosophy. So again, I decided appearances are not everything. I popped that baby right out of the pan and slapped it on a plate. This morning, the girls and I made the icing (Fresh Orange Drizzle) and poured it all over the top. As you can see, it’s not the prettiest cake, but I can assure you now that I’ve sampled a little piece, it’s divine.

So it’s really the little things that matter, isn’t it? That man didn’t have to take the time to say something to me (yeah, yeah, I know you cynics out there are saying he just wanted to get in my pants—same thing DH said), but he did take the time, and in doing that, he really made my day. And when the girls appeared in their carefully chosen outfits that really didn’t match, that didn’t matter either, did it? To them, they looked like the little fashion divas they are, and it was more important that I let them pick out what they wanted to wear than worry about what other people thought about how I dressed my children. And that cake? Who cares what it looked like?! Once it hits the tongue, the appearance is irrelevant, right? It’s about all taste! So I hope you are enjoying your Thanksgiving, not worrying about what you're wearing, how your hair looks, or whether or not your relatives think your cornbread dressing is up to snuff. It’s the little things that really matter anyway. Make some memories. And wear fun shoes. Who cares whether they match or not?

Updating and Giggling...

I'm working on updating my Etsy store and my website while listening to the girls play in the bathtub. Their laughter is contagious. Sounds like a giggle fest going on in there! Man, I wish I could bottle that stuff… To add to the bliss, there's an adorable little gray and white kitten at my feet tossing around a shell the girls brought upstairs. What makes you giggle? And how do ya like the new blog banner? :-)

Sunday Evening Shopping Spree: Sarah Whitmire

I’m so excited about this week’s Sunday Evening Shopping Spree artist! Why? Because I’m taking an online class she’s teaching. Yeah! I know, I know, not like I have nothing else to do, right? But, lucky for me, Sarah Whitmire found me, instead of me finding her, through our North Florida Craft Revolution Etsy street team. Since I’m the team leader, she contacted me about joining the team. And when I looked at her shop, and then her website, and then her blog….what gorgeous work! I read about the class on her blog and, thought, “Oh, what fun, I want to do that!!!!” We’ll be making an altered journal, like Sarah’s journals pictured here. The class starts later this week. I'll share pictures of what I come up with! Wish me luck! In the meantime, please go look at Sarah’s beautiful work! Among other things, she has some gorgeous, very affordable tags in her Etsy shop, perfect to use as bookmarks or as a little extra special touch on a Christmas gift.

Gorgeous Treasuries by Karen Faulkner

Many thanks to Karen Faulkner for including me in these two really gorgeous treasuries! Karen has such a great eye for color! My Samantha necklace is included the first treasury below, top row right, and my Venus Lampwork and Sterling bracelet is included in the second treasury, third row left. Visit Karen's Etsy store here to see her lovely watercolors! Visit her blog here.

Kelly 11-20

Kelly 11-17

Someday Was Today

Note: This post was partly prompted by Miranda's post over on Creative Construction. Yes, Miranda, someday WAS today. But first let me back up a moment to give you a little perspective why today became so important.

Saturday morning as I was driving around the block three times near Garnet and Gold in Tallahassee trying to find a place to park so I could pick up a new t-shirt for the FSU Homecoming game that night, I got a call from my best friend Becky. Becky and I have been friends since 9th grade English with Mr. McDonald. We sat behind Wally Rakestraw and both had a crush him (on which Becky’s brother Robert commented at Becky’s wedding rehearsal: “Wally Rakestraw!!?? Damn you girls for always going for the jocks!”). Becky and I went through high school and college together, became sorority sisters in college, and are still best friends 20 years out of college. When she called that morning and asked what I was doing, she said, “Well maybe I shouldn’t tell you this while you are driving.” With a comment like that, now you know I really had to know, so she told me.

At 9pm the night before, one of our sorority sisters in Tampa had a knock on her front door. It was a State Trooper. Her daughter, her 17-year-old daughter on her first trip away from home without her parents, had just been killed in a car accident. She was on her way to Tallahassee with three friends for the very same game that prompted my t-shirt search; the other three girls survived the crash but were in ICU. I pulled into a random parking lot and just stopped. What do you do in that moment? What can you possibly say? No words seem to fit. All I wanted to do was hang up the phone and call my own children at home, just to hear their voices. I cannot imagine the devastation our friend’s family must be feeling. My heart and prayers go out to them.

Which brings me back to the importance of today…. That moment crystallized for me that someday truly is today, and that you never know what that someday, this today, that tomorrow is going to bring you. And for that reason, I realized that every moment, big or small, must be cherished. Today was one of those moments. It was the day that all the kindergarten parents were invited to come to school and have a Thanksgiving lunch with their children. Before Saturday morning, I hadn’t really thought about going. Work is very hectic right now, and I have to travel to Orlando tomorrow and Friday for a meeting. But I went. And as I walked down the hall to the cafeteria, Olivia spotted me and yelled “Hey, there’s my Mama!” to all her friends. When I got in there, I saw that Sarah was still in line and hadn’t spotted me yet, so I told Liv to save us a seat and got in line. I saw Sarah walk out of the serving area with her little tray in her little hands, looking so smart and so grown up, and my eyes filled up with tears. When she saw me, she almost dropped her tray and yelled, “Hey, Mama!” So we sat down. And we ate. We ate terrible elementary school cafeteria turkey and dressing, box mashed potatoes and pre-packaged fruit cocktail. But it was one of those little moments to cherish. It was the day that someday did become today. It was the start of a lot of somedays that will become todays. When will your somedays become today? Do it now.

Sunday Evening Shopping Spree--Lauren Alexander

Don’t you just love this little gal!? It’s a very cute little ACEO by Lauren Alexander. I found Lauren’s work through Karen Faulkner’s blog. I love it! I bought this ACEO and one more to add to my ACEO collection as well as a little pack of five magnets for the girls. Lauren’s work is very whimsical and very affordable. Great for artsy little Christmas gifts! Visit Lauren’s shop here and visit her blog here.

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Free Bling Friday Number 55!

It’s Free Bling Friday time! Congrats to Free Bling Number 54 winner, Karen F. from Pennsylvania. I recently featured Karen in my Sunday Evening Shopping Spree and she had beginner's luck, winning on her first try! This week’s entry features some gorgeous shell shaped lampwork beads highlighted simply by one Swarovski crystal dangle. Simply elegant! They hang on sterling lever backs. To be eligible to win this pair, simply email me or leave a comment in the comment box by midnight Thursday, November 27, with the subject line FREE BLING and include where you're from. The next winner will be drawn Friday, November 28. Don't want to miss a single Free Bling Friday? Click here to sign up for free weekly email reminders. Click here for the Happy Shack Designs website. New items listed!

CC Weekly Creativity Challenge: Self-Portrait

This is my entry for this week's Creativity Challenge over on Creative Construction. I wasn't going to enter anything this week since Miranda already used my silly self-portrait trio for my Breakfast interview, but I took this picture of the girls yesterday at Fort Caroline, and it just struck me how much of myself I see in them. I haven't written any poetry in a while...

When I look in the mirror,
I see my mother.
When I look at my children,
I see myself.
My green eyes turned blue,
my blonde hair turned red,
yet the same little twinkle,
the same little spunk,
the same great wonder,
the same boundless spirit,
building the courage to become…myself.

Finally Updating the Website!

I know, I know…I’ve been quite the slacker when it comes to updating my website, but I'm finally getting around to it! I’ve added several new bracelets today and will be adding new necklaces and earrings as the week progresses. Go over and take a peek! The holiday shopping season has begun! Of course, there's absolutely nothing wrong with picking up a little something for yourself, either. ;-)

Sunday Evening Shopping Spree--Karen Grenfell

Now here’s a girl after my own heart! Just as I can’t seem to concentrate on one thing (or creative medium) at a time, it appears that neither can Karen Grenfell, the artist behind MimiLove Forever. Karen paints beautiful water color paintings and then embellishes them with embroidery, incorporating text and designs to enhance, further illustrate and even add a little comic touch to her watercolors. The end result is truly unique! I’ve never seen anything like this before! Living in the UK, Karen also seems to be having a great time with her art. Her paintings have been signed by celebrities from World Cup winners to Hollywood superstars and even include a sale at Sotheby’s world-renowned auction house. Karen is also a fellow member of Etsy for Animals. Yeah Karen! Visit Karen’s Etsy store here, her website here, and her blog here.

CC Weekly Creativity Challenge: Hands

Catching back up on the Creative Construction Weekly Creativity Challenge, this week’s entry was “hands”. This was a last minute entry I did on the computer using Adobe Illustrator, my first time playing with it actually! The words in the background are the lyrics to Sugarland’s “What I’d Give”. The sentiment in the foreground comes from a special memory of mine. Click here to see all of this week’s entries.

Adventures in Babysitting, I Mean Festivaling...

For those of you asking for pictures from my road shows, here you go! Click on any photo to enlarge. I must admit Halifax was not as good to me [pictured here] this year as it has been in the past, but I’m sure that was due to the dragging economy and, on Sunday, the weather. Saturday was a glorious shopping day with bright blue skies, windy but at least sunny. Crowds were not as big as they have been in the past, but I understand the Daytona News-Journal was not able to sponsor this year because they are in the middle of an ownership change. I imagine that greatly affected advertising since in past years they’ve done a special section on the show listing all the artists and events. Regardless, sales were still decent on Saturday given the economy. Sunday, though, was a complete washout. Literally! It rained on and off all day, mainly on, with a few very heavy, windy thunder storms. But let me back up to my Sunday morning arrival.

[Picture of my booth here] When I arrived at my tent Sunday morning, some kind soul had added an additional clamp to the bottom right front zipper. Apparently a pretty bad storm had come through overnight and that zipper didn’t hold. I opened the tent to find a full set of shelving and displays scattered everywhere. My guess is that the gust of wind that opened the zipper then proceeded to take out that facing set of shelves. Luckily, I do not leave my jewelry on display overnight. (And in the midst of all this, I lost my keys…after Patty and I both searched off and on for a couple hours, Patty found them in HER pocket! I had put them down next to my jewelry case when I discovered the scattered display, so she had evidently picked them up and put them in her pocket so they wouldn’t get lost!)

[Nice street shot here] Back to the rain. About 11:30am Sunday morning, we got hit with a particularly stormy band of rain, so we zipped up and tried to wait it out. This time, it was my center front zipper that gave way (if I’m going to continue to do this, I apparently must replace my zippers….). The wind was really whipping and the rain was coming down in sheets, and here I am in the middle of my tent trying to hold the front panels together to keep the rain out—no way to rezip with the wind blowing as badly as it was. It was a fruitless effort, and by the time that particular band passed, I was drenched from hip to toe, in jeans. Yuck. I tried to suck it up for about an hour and then gave up and went back to my van to change clothes. My van was parked directly in front of a very popular restaurant. Have you ever noticed that your front windshield isn’t tinted? Oh well, at that point I was wet enough that I didn’t care who saw my bum.

[This is Patty!] Towards the end of the day Sunday, we had all given in to the weather gods and were standing out in the rain talking. Patty and I were talking to the artist a couple booths down from her, an acrylic artist named Bruce, and Patty jokingly said, “Tell me why we do this again?” And Bruce took that opportunity to respond with, “Hmmm, let’s see….I don’t want sick leave, I don’t want health insurance, I love spending two days outside battling the weather trying to protect the art I spent countless hours creating, and um, what else…oh yeah! Paid vacation time? Who needs that!?” Are you catching the sarcasm here? By that point, we were all punch drunk from rain so everyone just laughed about it. (If you’d like to read another very entertaining report of a disastrous show, click here.)

[This is Malcolm, winner of the Canine Costume Contest] Bruce’s answer really made me think about that question though. Unlike Bruce and Patty, my art is not my sole, or even my primary, income. I do have sick leave, health insurance and paid vacation time. I do have a “real job”, as some full-time artists get accused of not having (ridiculous accusation, by the way…). So why do I do this? Why do I spend hours creating at night and then long weekends away from my family to show and, hopefully sell, my art? I thought about that on the way home, and I realized the answer to the question is two-fold. For me, it’s not to make money. Sure, it’s nice to make a little profit and hopefully at least not lose money, and frankly I often spend the majority of the profit I make at shows on other people’s art! But I love the people I meet, whether they be fellow artists or customers. People like Ken Dames and his wife Theresa, my neighbors this weekend. Ken’s hysterical “Bathroom Art Series” reflected his sunny personality and definitely kept people laughing as they passed by his booth. I’ve also met some great customers that have become great friends and have shared their lives with me. Wonderful people.

[Battling rains on Sunday, before I changed my clothes!] The other reason is maybe a little more intangible. Though I know it will realistically never be my life’s work, I do have that drive to create. And while creating may be a very personal thing to some people, I get so excited about new things that I create that I just want to share them! (And DH and the girls can only express so much enthusiasm on any given day.) So for me, it’s just really cool that there are people all over the world wearing a little piece of something I created. Like little pieces of Kelly scattered all over the world. That’s a cool concept, don’t you think?

So I guess I’ll keep at it. I always get a little burned out during the fall because I’m not only juggling arts festival travel and work travel, but I also have that football schedule to contend with. Gotta have my ‘Noles and my Barnaby’s. I’d love to beef up my online sales, but that requires more time than I have right now since I’m traveling so much. Maybe in the spring you loyal blog readers can help me spread the word… Till then, next stop is Tallahassee’s Market Days December 6-7. And, yeah! It’s an indoor show!

Sunday Evening Shopping Spree--PandaCub

What fun stuff in this little shop called PandaCub! I think I came across this seller through a forum discussion (I need to take better notes…:-). My girls are becoming quite the little fashion divas, and I know they’d love these little ladybug hairbands. These are made by Stephanie, who makes all sorts of fun little accessories with fabric. Here’s a little about her: “I work full-time in a very corporate environment, so making these adorable accessories is a fun way to relax and be creative. I love discovering new fabrics that I can turn into cute buttons! Some of my favorite things in the world: my husband, coffee, chocolate, getting mail, reading books, cooking, shopping, sushi, London, vacation days, the internet, Lord of the Rings, vanilla, cats, useless trivia and music.” Visit Stephanie’s shop here for great little stocking stuffers. The holidays will soon be upon us! Also visit her blog and her MySpace page!