CC Weekly Creativity Challenge: Beauty

I shared two photos and haikus for this week's CC challenge, "beauty". The first photo speaks for itself, doesn't it? For the second, if you look closely towards the middle right side, you’ll see a little ellipse of cloud poking out with a halo of green and pink around it. We were riding in the golf cart in Boca Grande when I saw this, and I made my DH stop the cart. He couldn’t see it! I was so happy when the "halo" came through in the photo. Click here to see all this week's entries.

Best Friends

Growing up so fast

They’re treasures beyond measure

Reaching for the stars

Angel's Halo

An angel's halo lights the sky

Hands reach down to touch you

Like magic from above

Happy C-Section Day!

One of my staff members gave me an interesting perspective this afternoon as she walked out the door. She yelled, “Oh! By the way! Happy C-Section Day!” I’ve never quite looked at my girls’ birthday like that, but I guess that’s what it is! Yep, five years ago today, my girls were born. I’ve had that gushing emotional mama syndrome for most of the weekend. We had a birthday party here at the Shack Saturday and all was well because….drum roll please…..James came! For a good three weeks proceeding their birthday, all Sarah kept saying was, “Mama, I really want James to come to my party because he is my boyfriend.” They are FIVE YEARS OLD, and they are already talking about BOYFRIENDS! Geez, oh Pete! Now you see, Livvie likes James by proxy, simply because Sarah likes him and she’s happy to share. James, of course, is experiencing every man’s dream at only five years old….twins with the hots for him!

Last week as we started getting some RSVP’s, with every message heard Sarah asked, “Mama, did we get a message from James?” and even late in the week I kept having to tell her, unfortunately, no. But, praise God, James’ mom called late Friday afternoon and saved the day; James was coming! We turned the backyard into a water park, adding a big 13’ inflatable water slide and good old fashioned slip and slide to our alien pod pool. Let me just say James was the king of the slip and slide.... My girls are five years old.... I can see right now I’m not going to do very well on the first day of kindergarten.

Like this post? Click here to sign up for free weekly email reminders. Click here for the Happy Shack Designs website! My Summer Sale is in progress!

Support Etsy for Animals with Nanjodogz!

So have you noticed the new Etsy Mini I added over there in the right hand column? The one for Etsy for Animals? Etsy for Animals (EFA) is a great Etsy street team I’m involved in. The only criteria for joining the group is to be an Etsy seller committed to the well-being of our animal friends. Most of us also try to donate a portion of our Etsy sales to the EFA charity of the month as well. So! To help bump up those numbers, I’m going to start featuring a couple EFA members here on the Happy Shack blog every month. Some months I may do one a week; some months it may be every other week! Just depends on what’s happening around the Shack! So for now, go over and take a look at Nancy Richardson’s shop Nanjodogz! Nancy creates the cutest little polymer clay dogs, beads and artwork. I particularly like her tiles, like the one pictured here. When I was a little girl, we had a German Shepard named Cindy and a bloodhound named Rover; they were quite the pair, and quite a large pair to a little girl! Visit Nancy’s store here and be sure to check out the Etsy for Animals store here, where 100% of the sales go to EFA animal charities.

Like this post? Click here to sign up for free weekly email reminders. Click here for the Happy Shack Designs website! My Summer Sale is in progress!

Behind the Camera: Big Talbot Island State Park

I had a bit of an adventure yesterday afternoon. Our Student Center on campus is actually the ground floor of a parking garage….a parking garage that little birds love to nest in! Yesterday, my assistant came into my office with this forlorn look on her face and asked me if BEAKS was still open.

BEAKS is a wildlife sanctuary that will take all sorts of critters, but specializes in birds. Angie had found a baby bird that had fallen out its nest. She called them and said that BEAKS would take the baby, but it was all the way out on Big Talbot Island. Then she gave me that look. Yes, all the way on Big Talbot Island was a heck of a long way for her to go, since she lives 15 miles south of campus and Big Talbot Island is about 30 miles northeast of campus. So guess who lives exactly 22 miles northeast of campus? That’s why she gave me that look. “Yes, Angie, I’ll take the bird out there.”

Big Talbot Island is a state park, so I took the opportunity to take some pictures. This first shot is the road that BEAKS is on. It’s just off AIA on Houston St. Isn’t it gorgeous? DH and I actually looked at some property on this road before we bought the property we built our house on. Incredibly beautiful land with massive live oaks. The second shot is at the mouth of Ft. George Inlet. I truly am blessed to live so close to such beautiful places.

Like this post? Click here to sign up for free weekly email reminders. Click here for the Happy Shack Designs website! My Summer Sale is in progress!

CC Weekly Creativity Challenge: Chinese Restaurant

Two Lovers Sitting in a Chinese Restaurant

Joyful hearts take flight
Lit by the lantern of love
Forever soaring.

I collect ACEOs (art card, editions and originals) which are an outcropping of artist trading cards. If you aren’t familiar with them, the basic rule is that they must be the size of a standard playing card, 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″. I created my first one for this prompt. Also my first Haiku! The Chinese letters are ‘Joy’ and ‘Love,’ top and bottom respectively. I’m not usually attracted to Asian art, but for a first try, I’m pretty happy with this! The stamps were in a very large collection of art supplies given to me by a friend who was moving and need to clear out some supplies. I’m having so much fun going through them all. Click here to see all this week's entries.

Fat Book Entry #4: Retro!

Well I’m once again showing my rebellious streak here. For our FatBook Entry #4, the theme was 50’s-70’s Retro. I was stuck for weeks. Then while I was driving over to Tallahassee one bright and sunny Friday morning to catch an FSU baseball game (during the semifinals last month…of course, we choked as usual as soon as we got to the College World Series, but I digress….), I was listening to my favorite radio station out of Valdosta when inspiration struck! That station has a great Friday Night Retro Radio Show…, but it's Retro 80’s. I hesitated for a minute and then thought, what the heck! It’s still Retro! The first thing that popped in my mind was the image of the Go Go's waterskiing. So here you have it! These little things have been so much fun to make (even though I’m making 11 of each one!). I can’t wait to see everyone else’s!

And for more creative inspiration, go over there and check out Creative Construction. We had several entries for last week’s creativity prompt, “Chinese restaurant”. You can see my first attempt at an ACEO there; I’m not a big fan of Asian art, but it didn’t come out half bad for a quick 15 minutes of playing around! I also have a post on there from my bad day last week that drummed up some great discussion in the comments; feel free to add yours here or there! I'm really enjoying getting to know this wonderful group of creative women. And no worries, my girlies and I are much better now! :-)

Like this post? Click here to sign up for free weekly email reminders. Click here for the Happy Shack Designs website! My Summer Sale is in progress!

Great Handmade Journal from Prairie Peasant!

Just a quick drive by to tell you about the fabulous journal I received today. I ordered this for my good friend Walter who’s taking off for two weeks in Germany the end of this week. Walter and I have worked together for nearly 15 years now and have become very dear friends in the process. We help keep each other sane! I stumbled across these journals actually looking for a small handmade journal for me. I’m always thinking of things I need to do and if I don’t write them down immediately, they just totally escape from my brain. Call them blonde moments, mommy brain, old age, whatever…it hits me! Laura at Prairie Peasant custom-made this one just for Walter. She had a few other map journals in her store, but nothing showing Germany so she whipped this one right up. It truly is awesome! Taking it to Walter now! TTFN!

Behind the Camera: Cherishing Moments

Happy Monday! One of my goals on Creative Construction’s Monday Page last Monday was to cherish time with my girls, since I was essentially a single mom last week; DH was working 12-14 hours days. I struggled with that at the beginning of the week since there were just entirely too many things on my to-do list. Remember that “Why Say No?” post a couple weeks ago?

Well that long to-do list is one of the downsides of saying yes to everything you want to say yes to… But by mid-week, I threw my to-do list aside and went back to that goal. The girls and I took advantage of some gorgeous afternoon weather (a rarity in Florida in mid-July) and hung out on the dock with the camera. Of course, we had to take pictures of Bunny and Bambi posing in various locations on the dock (yet, somehow they all look the same…hmmm…) so I’ll spare you those, but in between hanging our feet in the water and splashing around, we also got some great shots out of the afternoon. You can click on the photos to enlarge them.

Though I love to take pictures and play with paper, I’ve never been a scrap-booker (maybe something I should add to my list?), but I realized recently that in writing this blog, I’m creating the perfect scrapbook fodder for my girls. I can just print out the posts I’ve written about the girls, print out some pictures, add them to a page, and viola! Instant scrapbook! What do you think?

Speaking of Creative Construction, I’ve been wavering back and forth over whether or not to share this with you, but in the interest of full disclosure and should you happen over to the Creative Construction blog and read it, I’d want you to be prepared. Each week, Creative Construction offers a creativity contest and prompt to get your wheels turning. Last week’s prompt was “my mother’s house”. Well that surely got my wheels turning…..and turned into a very cathartic writing exercise for me. I won the contest last week, but I’ll warn you, it was a very emotional piece. You can take a look if you’d like here. It does remind me to cherish those moments mentioned above.

Like this post? Click here to sign up for free weekly email reminders. Click here for the Happy Shack Designs website! My Summer Sale is in progress!

Free Bling Friday Number 48!

It's time for Free Bling Friday! Congratulations to Free Bling Friday Number 47 winner, Elizabeth B. from Atlanta, GA. I’m a big fan of Elizabeth’s work and love her blog, so go over there and take a peek! Yeah for Elizabeth! This week’s entry pairs creamy pink chalcedony gemstone briolettes with little clusters of Swarovski crystals in complementary colors, all attached to a sterling silver ring, then hung on sterling French wires. As always, if you are this week's winner and prefer posts, just let me know and I'll be happy to switch them out for you. To be eligible to win this pair, simply email me by midnight Thursday, July 31, with the subject line FREE BLING and include where you're from. The next winner will be drawn Friday, August 6. 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! My Summer Sale is in progress!

CC Weekly Creativity Challenge: My Mother's House

This was my first entry is CC weekly contest and was very cathartic for me. I think you'll understand why when you read it. See all of this week's entries here.

My Mother’s House
Scattered memories… scattered phrases… memories… questions… answers… gifts.

17045 N.W. 11th Avenue, 305-620-0367. It must have been the very first address I memorized because I still remember it. We moved in that house when I was in second grade, and though I remember Tyrone Ellis, the cute little blonde-headed boy from first grade, I really don’t remember much before then. Flashbacks come from pictures. But 10745 N.W. 11th Avenue. I remember that house.

I remember watching TV one day while my dad was in the shower and my mom was still at work. I was seven. Some strange man came in the front door and said, “Hey, Kel Belle. Where’s your dad?” “Um…in the shower….who are you?” “Oh, okay, well just tell him Bill came by.” And he took the Sears catalog from my mother’s house and left. I told my dad when he got out of the shower. He will forever be known to me as “The Robber.” My dad’s best friend.

I remember that turtle. Timmy and I found him in the vacant lot at the end of the street. Big old box turtle. We carried him home, and I immediately brought him in the house. Mom said I couldn’t possibly keep him in the house. But I did. She let me. For a little while anyway. I guess she knew I’d grow tired of hearing him scratch around in his box all night long. And I did. Timmy and I took him back to the vacant lot and left him right where we found him. Outside my mother’s house. That started the bringing-home-stray-animals habit I still have today.

I remember falling off that bus. Mortifying. Roger, my fourth grade sweetheart, was still on the bus. I was wearing my Brownie uniform and was carrying a big box of Girl Scout cookies. I stumbled right down the school bus stairs and landed in my driveway in front of my mother’s house, face first. Cookies scattered everywhere. My face flushed with embarrassment. I wonder where Roger is now.

I remember leaving my mother’s house at 17045 N.W. 11th Avenue. I was in fifth grade and we moved to St. Petersburg. Funny how that address doesn’t stick with me. The memories are there, but they’re clouded. Shadowed. Playing in the clay caves and stream at the end of the street with Vicky, stopping with Dad to get Icees at the corner 7-Eleven on the way home. Though they change here. And I don’t remember my mother’s house.

But I remember the fighting. It wasn’t often but it was loud. I remember Dad moving out, then a few months later moving back in. I burned my hand on the light bulb trying to take it out and put butter on it to soothe it. More fighting. Then I remember Mom picking me up from school in the middle of the school day. I was 12. There were suitcases in the car. My baby sister Kim was strapped in the back seat. We left. I never got to say goodbye to my friends.

1909 Wells Road, Apt. 212. I remember that address. That’s where we moved after we stayed at Nana’s house for a little while. My mother’s house. Without my father. It was small and cramped but the complex had a very big playground with lots of other kids. John Riccardi lived next door. We were in the same grade and would graduate high school and even go to college together. But he wasn’t my boyfriend. Just my first kiss. Mom met another John R. and married him.

347 Dillon Drive. My mother’s house. The house that Mom and John bought together. Ninth grade. Happier times. I remember Mom standing in my bedroom doorway listening to me sing along with Michael Jackson blaring in my headphones. I was dancing. I didn’t see her until she started laughing. We both laughed. I remember her laughter. Beautiful laughter.

My house, away from my mother’s house. I’m away at college when John calls me. Mom’s left him. They need me to come home. I’m angry at her. Nana’s angry at her. John’s crying. Who’s this other man? Granddaddy dies. Mom marries that other man. Very bad timing. I miss John.

Scattered memories. Coming faster now. Reliving.

My mother’s house is no longer mine now. She’s creating a new life with this new man. I’m still in her life, but I no longer live there. We have holidays there. I come to visit but I rarely stay the night. They’re married for seven years.

My house now. Mom calls me. He’s left her for someone else. I go to my mother’s house to sit with her and try to dry her tears. And listen. And try not to say I told you so. But Nana does. Nana says what comes around goes around. And I pray it doesn’t. I pray it doesn’t.

My house. A nurse calls me. Mom’s in the hospital. She’s tried to kill herself. I go. She’s in the psych ward. She’s lethargic, but I think she realizes she did a very stupid thing. My husband comes. Like he always does, he tries to make her laugh, asking her why she did such a stupid thing. She knows she did a stupid thing. She’ll get better now, right?

My mother’s house. 11 months later in a rental. It’s Christmas. She’s decorated to the nines. She’s getting better. She’s moving on with her life. She’s making plans to build a new life. She tells us about the house she’s thinking about building as we talk over Christmas dinner. She’s going to have a special room just for the babies I’m carrying in my womb.

A month later. I’m in my mother’s house. Mom’s not there. It’s very quiet. My husband’s with me but he’s fallen asleep. I’m thumbing through paperwork, my old elementary school report cards, with boxes piled around me. “Kelly’s very bright, but she’s a very social girl. She needs to learn to pay attention better.” Old baby teeth in my mother’s jewelry box. Cards and letters I sent her from college. Kim’s high school Raiderette pictures. All scattered on the floor. The babies are no longer in my womb. I lost them four days after Christmas.

Back now. Two days after Christmas. My house. I’m in the bathroom when I hear a knock on the door and hushed voices. I come out to see my husband standing stone faced with a police officer and a chaplain. My mother has done it. She’s taken her own life. It’s December 27, 1999.

My mother’s daughter’s house, my house, December 27, 2002. The nurse calls me. I’m nervous. I’m scared. Kelly. Things look good. You’re pregnant again. Looks like twins again. On your day, Mom. Thank you. Thank you for giving me a good memory in your daughter’s house, in my house, on that day. A gift. I hope you finally have peace now in God’s house, watching my daughters, your granddaughters, grow up in their mother’s house.

Fat Book Entry #3: Driven

Well, I think I may be showing my rebel side with this one….not that this is a very rebel-looking piece, but rather that I may be stretching the theme a bit farther than it was designed. “Driven”. I think Carmen suggested this theme, and she probably meant a woman who was “driven” to do something, like “driven to succeed” or “driven to create” or “driven to lose twenty pounds". Well, the one thing that kept popping in my mind was the film Driving Miss Daisy. Daisy was certainly “driven”, wasn’t she? She was “driven” around by Hoke, literally! But the more I thought about it, the more I felt Daisy was appropriate for this entry. Yes, she was driven around town by an old black man who became her best friend. But she was also figuratively driven to live her life, driven to carry on after the death of her husband, and driven to develop a close friendship with her black driver, despite the racial barriers of her time. She was driven to do all this with a dignity and grace that stands the test of time. You go, Daisy! I’ll have entry #4, Retro, for you later this week…

Like this post? Click here to sign up for free weekly email reminders. Click here for the Happy Shack Designs website! My Summer Sale has begun!

Happy Shack Summer Sale!

Just a little reminder that the Happy Shack Summer Sale is in progress! I’m listing new items throughout the month of July and everything (except custom orders) is on sale. It’s Christmas in July! Visit the website here!

Creatively Expanding at 300 Posts!

Wow! I just realized this is my 300th post! Yippee! Have I really had that much to say? (This is where you nod your head approvingly about all the wonderful things I've said here over the past year and a half :-). So for today, a look back and a look forward, and since much of the inspiration for this blog comes from my two little redheads, here's another of my favorite Boca Grande pictures. We took this at Cabbage Key. Found those cute little crabbie sunglasses there too. They made quite the fodder for the rest of the trip since we could say, “Livvie/Sarah, you have a crab on your face!” which would elicit fits of laughter every time. As a look back, I wanted to share some of my favorite posts with you, and I've selected these six because they've been the most meaningful for me. They are definitely more on the serious, thought-provoking side, rather than my usual humorous tone.

Gushing Emotional Mama Syndrome (6/5/2008)

Counting My Blessings (7/24/07)

Sand Dollar, Starfish, Bear Man and Roger Corn (6/20/07)

Virginia Tech: An Example of a Cold America? (4/18/07)

The Great Greek Manifesto (2/28/07)

What Matters Most (1/30/07)

I also started a new category over there in the right column where I've listed what I feel are my all time best posts, including these six. Some of them are serious, some are funny, but all truly inspired me in some way.

Second, a look forward. So where is this blog going? Well, for one I hope to start posting more of my art, in whatever form that may take. I need to do that more! And in compiling the list above, I realized that, for the first part of 2008 anyway, I haven't done much serious writing, which I'd like to do more of. So to that end, let me tell you about the wonderful invitation that appeared in my inbox last week. I received an email from Miranda Hersey Helin about a lovely blog she hosts called Creative Construction: Life & Art. Miranda had stumbled across my blog, read through quite a bit, and invited me to join her group. It’s really a beautiful blog, written by a group of very creative mothers, and focuses on combining a creative life with being a mother and finding the balance between the two. The group consists of very talented writers and artists, and I’m honored to have been invited to participate. For my first post, Miranda asked me to write an introduction of sorts, and I wrote that on Monday. I think you’ll recognize one of the pictures! Visit Creative Construction here. I’ve also listed it in my Friends and Faves over there in the right column so check back often for some really lovely posts from the group.

Till next time, thank you so much for taking the time to read my little corner of the blogosphere. When I started this thing, I really wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it, and it has definitely evolved over the past 18 months. What it’s evolved to, I’m not quite sure yet, but I know that I truly love getting your comments, and I love seeing all those locations pop up on my stat counter statistics. Sometimes we all get so wrapped up in our own little worlds, I guess this has been my way of reaching out, and I’m glad so many of you have been there to reach back. Thank you, dear friends.

Like this post? Click here to sign up for free weekly email reminders. Click here for the Happy Shack Designs website! My Summer Sale has begun!

Behind the Camera: Best Friends

I’m starting to work through my Boca Grande pictures and this is definitely my favorite. This beautiful little path was at the end of our colony of villas. On our last night there, the girls were already in their pajamas when we decided to walk down to the beach and look for shells. When I showed them this little “secret path” (for the first time that night, since I had been saving it for just the right moment!), they fell in love with it, too. My family has been coming to Boca Grande for 30 years; this is the first time we’ve stayed in this particular colony, but we’ll probably stay here from now on. I’m working on editing all my other pictures and I’ll share more of those soon. And for those of you who know my little redheads personally, you'll surely recognize that little friend hanging from Sarah's right hand. :-) Have a great week!

Like this post? Click here to sign up for free weekly email reminders. Click here for the Happy Shack Designs website! My Summer Sale has begun!

Free Bling Friday Number 47!

Happy Fourth! It's time for Free Bling Friday! Congratulations to Free Bling Friday Number 46 winner, Stacey M. from Shepherdsville, KY. This week’s entry has been a popular pair! Larimar blue crazy lace agate is just so pretty. Here I've paired it with creamy freshwater pearls and Swarovski crystals to add a little extra bling; blue, white and bling is rather appropriate for Fourth of July, don't you think? These hang approximately 1 1/4" on sterling French wires, and as always, if you are this week's winner and prefer posts, just let me know and I'll be happy to switch them out for you. To be eligible to win this pair, simply email me by midnight Thursday, July 17, with the subject line FREE BLING and include where you're from. The next winner will be drawn Friday, July 18. 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! My Summer Sale has begun!

Ode to Old Liza Sue

I must be just a tad punch drunk tired today because as I was going through my Boca pictures and came across this one of my old dear departed Liza Sue, this silly poem popped in my head.....

~Ode to Old Liza Sue~

She was a grand old gal, my sweet Liza Sue,

Served me on many trips, guess her time was just due.

With clouds on the horizon, a big storm was a risin’,

I knew I might lose her, but what was I to do?...

“Better get ‘er in!” said that guy on the shore,

But my hands were full, with camera and more.

So I said a short prayer, threw my hands in the air,

And said to DH as I burst through the door…

“We’ll need a new tent! Yes sir, we will”,

That one on the beach just took a BIG spill!

It dragged through the sand, like some dead drunk old man,

And layed all splayed out like some old dead road kill….

My sweet Liza Sue, we’re surely miss you…..

I know my friend Patty will appreciate this as she's already lost three tents to storms. I had already replaced Liza Sue with a new tent in April, but she has now officially traveled to tent heaven. Let's all say a little prayer now.... More Boca pictures to come!

Why Say No?

Whew! I have to say that I now need a vacation from my vacation! It’s been a busy two weeks, though I certainly can’t complain about a week in Boca Grande, my favorite place in the whole wide world, especially now that I’m able to enjoy it with my own family. More on that later this week. For now, take a look at this lovely little gem that I just got from my dear friend Wyanne. She said it describes her to a tee; it also describes me to a tee! Guess that’s why we like each other so much! It’s going to hang in my newly reorganized “Good Mess” of a workshop. What she said about this painting got me thinking, and that thinking was followed up by more thinking after another dear friend told me I need to learn how to say “no” because I always tend to be moving in 37 different directions (yes, that is possible as there are certainly more than 37 different bones in your body, and 37 is my favorite number). I thought about that for a while, and I realized I have no problem saying “no”.

Truth is, I have no problem saying “no” to the things I truly don’t want to do. But I do have a problem saying “no” to things I really do want to do. And there’s just so much I really want to do, so why should I say no? How’s that old saying go? “You only regret the things you never did” or something along that line. Of course, I want to keep designing jewelry. And I want to start working on my new collage-stamp oriented designs while keeping up my lamp work designs. And I want to do more mixed media collage. And I want to go back to doing some woodcut pieces (since I keep tripping over the remnants of my previous festival shelves laid out in the garage as the girls’ “dock”…oh, the things I could do with all that wood…). And I want to make more handbags. Finally got all my fabric out and organized so I can see it all. I have a TON of fabric. And I want to take my overflowing shell collection and put it all in pretty little glass jars. And I want to paint my bedroom. And I want to redecorate my living room. And I want to do more with the Art Spot. And I want to do more with my Etsy group, including volunteering to update that old blog! And I want to do more with my Chi Omega alumnae group. Where is that book club list, anyway? And I want to go visit my friend Gypsy in North Carolina. And I want to go to Europe. And Hawaii. And it would be really cool to visit Karen and Russ in Buenos Aires. And I want to make lots of art and other stuff with my little redheads on their new art table, so they’ll grow up wanting to live life to the fullest and do all they can do without having to worry about learning how to say “no” when they really want to say yes. By watching me do all that I do, I want to teach them that they can do and be anything they want to, whether that be an artist, an astronaut, a dancer, a veterinarian, all the above or something in between. Shouldn’t we all reach for our dreams? The saying we put on our campus marquee this week is “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you still land among the stars.” That about sums it up for me. The girls and I will be shooting for the moon tonight. Wanna come play?

Like this post? Click here to sign up for free weekly email reminders. Click here for the Happy Shack Designs website. Summer sale coming in July! Mark your favorites now and look for more to come!