Thursday, January 31, 2008

Creative Every Day: Valentine Cards

Creative Every Day: Finally got around to getting a decent scan of the cards I made! These were my first attempt at card making, and honestly, a little on the smurfy side for me style-wise, but I didn’t have much of a choice in the class. These were the supplies and directions provided. I can definitely see the draw to card making, as it’s a fairly easy process in which you can get some nice results pretty quickly. I can see where rubber stamp enthusiasts get addicted. I made six cards in this class in less than two hours.

I guess I've been a bit of a creative slacker here lately. Just a little too much going on. I’ve looked at some of the other blogs that are participating in the Creative Every Day project and I wish I had as much time to create as some of them seem to have. With a full-time job and twin four-year-olds, my “spare” time is just that…add one letter and you have “sparse”! And that’s a frustration for me. Just not enough time in the day for the things I would like to do. Hard to find that happy medium, isn’t it? I've signed up to complete a challenge that has to be posted by February 5, so hopefully I'll get that done this weekend. I've had the vision in my head for more than two weeks....the bigger challenge has been finding the time to get it done!

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Monday, January 28, 2008

The Magic of the Magic Kingdom

Well, yeah! We survived the girls' first trip to Disney World! And the Magic Kingdom is most certainly magic through the eyes of two 4 1/2-year-old little girls. I have to admit the look on the girls' faces when they walked in and saw Cinderella's Castle was worth the cost of admission alone. Here's the girls and I just after riding Dumbo. The book I read (um, I mean scanned in the car on the way down...) said to take little ones straight to Dumbo first as the best way to get them acclimated to the park. So our first experience was a 40 minute wait in line for a 90 second ride, but what the heck! They managed to do very well both in line...crowd watching...and on the ride. From there we were on to Pooh, Peter Pan, It's a Small World (a favorite for them for the sole reason of getting to ride in a boat), and a visit with Ariel from the Little Mermaid. It's here we first learned that they preferred to keep their distance from the characters for the most part. Sarah had her picture taken with Ariel, taking very tentative steps toward her, but Livvie stuck to my leg.

There were rides in Indy Cars, laser practice with Buzz Lightyear, even a little bit of fright followed by laughter in Pirates of the Caribbean. I had forgotten how scary Pirates can seem to little ones at the beginning, but once we got to the "Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me!" part, they were okay. Again after all, they were riding in a boat! They loved the train, which with two turns around the park gave us all a nice little break, and I understand they really loved Tom Sawyer's Island. I, unforunately, had to take a seat after first going into Tom's Mystery Mine since the lopsided room in there really did a number on my vertigo. Note to self: stay out of lopsided rooms. So the DH stayed with me, stuffing pastachios into my mouth to keep me from losing my lunch because of my spinning head, while the Granddad and Grandma Kathy helped the girls explore the island. Here we all are in front of the castle.

The light parade was also a big hit, and apparently Sarah is in training to be a parade Grand Marshall; she narrated every float that came by, informing everyone around us who was on it. After two full days in the park, we had dinner with "Cinderella and Friends" at the Grand Floridian. Very cool. Cinderella, Prince Charming, the Fairy Godmother, and Drusilla and Anastasia (the wicked step-sisters) visited our table for pictures and a chat while we ate dinner. I understand Cinderella's wicked step-mother had the flu so she was unable to join us. Just as well, since the girls really don't like her. It took some begging for Livvie to join in the pictures, but she begrudingly did. She'll laugh at those pictures when she's 25. I'll try to post all the pictures in my Flickr account and let you know when they are up.

I had a "moment" the morning we were leaving that caught me off guard and brought out some tears. It hit me how much my Mom would have loved to go on this trip. I'm certain she was watching down on us all weekend, and I know she enjoyed the view. :-) Really miss you, Mom. All in all, a wonderful trip....I can't remember my first trip to Disney but I will always remember my girls' first trip. I hope they do, too.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Off to Disney...

We are off for the girls' first trip to Disney World tomorrow! This is all they've been talking about for weeks. We have reservations to dine with Cinderella and all her princess friends Saturday night, so my little princesses are particularly excited about that. They've been walking around in their "ball gowns" every day for the past month. I haven't been to Disney in about 15 years and my DH hasn't been in probably 30, so this will be quite a treat for all of us. I'm sure I'll share some pictures next week! In the meantime, have a great weekend!

Behind the Camera: Southern Sunsets


Creative Everyday Day: I've been playing around with my new Nikon D40 trying to learn all its functions and took these two shots the other night. Though the power lines and the power plant mar an otherwise very picturesque horizon, I certainly can't complain about the water and the sunsets we get! The sailboat at our dock belongs to our neighbors across the street. As I get more used to this camera and all it can do, hopefully I'll be able to bring you more beautiful shots than these!


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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Number One "What I Would Have..."

...loved to have for Christmas. Isn't this just beautiful? It speaks to me in so many ways. It represents the innocence of life, the wonderment of babyhood, the double joy of twin babyhood and so much more, including the girls' first birthday picture, here with me below. And it touched me even more when I learned the story behind it. This painting was done by Lauriann Wakefield, who like me, longed for a child, but had to go through many measures to have one. Lauri and her husband had hoped to adopt twins, which is what inspired this painting. The twins did not work out for her, but they did adopt a beautiful baby boy named Jack, and Lauri chronicles her journey and new life with Jack in her blog here. About this painting she said, "The little dresses show that twins are similar in so many ways, yet are different individuals, and they are beautifully different."

Not only do I live that sentiment daily, I am amazed, inspired, overjoyed, overwhelmed, and forever grateful for it daily....even on mornings like today when it was a struggle to get them dressed and out of the house and to school on time so Livvie could have her toast with Ms. Mary. "Gotta have toast with Ms. Mary, Mommy." Sometimes we get so caught up in the daily trappings and responsibilities of life that we overlook the tiny blessings. Livvie's tiny blessing is toast with Ms. Mary. Sarah's tiny blessing is Bunny's new twin sister Rosie. Mine is cherishing the moment I learned I was pregnant with them...on the anniversary of my mother's death. What are yours? I'd love for you to share them in the comments box below.

Lauri is also a very talented photographer, so be sure to take a look at her pictures both on her blog and in her Etsy store. We'll call this another Creative Every Day post for this week as well since I really like what Lauri's painting inspired me to think.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Number Two "What I Would Have..."

...loved to have for Christmas. If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you know of my addiction to ACEOs, little miniature works of art the size of a standard baseball trading card. I love this one by Madeline Fedorowich. I have a few birds in my collection and this little guy would be a great addition. Madeline has quite a few lovely little feathered friends in her Etsy shop, but this one is my favorite. Check out Madeline's store here.

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Saturday in Gainesville Creative Every Day...

Finally getting back to the jewelry bench to fulfill some custom orders and a Creative Every Day entry. This is my "Saturday in Gainesville" bracelet that I get quite a few requests for. Being a Florida State grad, I like to joke that I have to charge a little more for these because they are so painful for me to make. :-) Just completed this one for Michelle F., who like me is a Florida State grad....but she married into a University of Florida family! My DH is an Alabama fan and my father-in-law is a die-hard Gator, so I'm outnumbered around here too. My sister went to UF as well, but she doesn't really give a hoot about sports so we're fine there! That allowed my dad to remain a loyal Florida State fan when Kim went to Florida. Anywho, I can do "Saturday in...", or "Sunday in ..." for you NFL fans, in just about any color scheme. Just let me know what you'll looking for and we'll figure out a way to make it happen!

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Kelly Rae Roberts: Embracing the Possibility

I've started working a little more with paper, and I stumbled across mixed-media artist Kelly Rae Roberts first on Etsy. She creates whimsical pieces with inspiring and encouraging messages mixed in. When I went to Kelly Rae's website and read more about her, I learned we had a lot in common! Though she now lives in California, she grew up in Jacksonville and graduated from Florida State just like me. Then I discovered Cloth Paper Scissors magazine, and as luck would have it, the first issue I picked up included a feature story written by Kelly, the first in a series. It was titled "Embracing the Possibility and Your Creative Dreams" and was one of the most inspiring articles I've ever read. (I just ordered all the CPS back issues!) I think Kelly's article just caught me at the right time, at a time when I was a little bored with what I was doing and wanting to move off in different directions and try new things. I ordered Kelly's print you see here and have it hanging in my workshop for inspiration. It reads "She learned to cup possibility in her hands", and the color is even more vibrant in person. To me, that speaks of taking new chances; what do you think? Don't worry, jewelry fans, I'm not giving up my jewelry! Just adding more variety to my creative endeavors! Check out Kelly Rae Roberts' Etsy store, her website, and her blog for your own dose of her inspiration. And read more about Cloth Paper Scissors magazine here.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Free Bling Friday Number 35!

It's Free Bling Friday time! Congrats to last week's winner, Sandi S. from Tallahassee. Now that we're three weeks into a new year, I'm making a few changes to Free Bling Friday. I love being able to reward my loyal readers with free stuff, but doing it every week is becoming a little too much for me to keep up with! So after much thought I've decided to cut back to the first and third Fridays of the month. Of course, if my sales start skyrocketing, I'll try to go back to weekly, so continue to spread the Happy Shack word! Here's the next entry: lovely circles of aqua quartz briolettes and Montana Swarovski crystals hanging from sterling silver lever backs. These hang approximately 1 1/4 inch in length. To be eligible to win this pair, simply email me by midnight Thursday, January 31, with the subject line FREE BLING and include where you're from. The next winner will be drawn Friday, February 1. 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!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Number Three "What I Would Have"

....loved to have for Christmas. Isn't this gorgeous!?!? This bracelet was made by Sandy at Urban Closeouts. She makes the dichroic glass and then wraps the glass and forms the bracelet out of 14K gold-filled wire. To this one she added a nice sized topaz gem. Sandy seems to be a one-woman cottage industry as she has not one, not two, but three shops on Etsy. Urban Closeouts features her handmade jewerly; Urban Oasis features her stunning lampwork glass beads; and Sandrika's Fiber Art features her hand-dyed yarns and handmade knits. Be sure to check out all three shops!

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Kids Art Installment Number 2--Conner

Well, I was going to share a couple of my little cards I made in my class Friday night, but I’m still having scanner issues! So instead, I’ll give you another kids’ art installment as promised in my Encouraging Kids’ Art post. These fun little robots are the work of seven-year-old Connor. Cool huh? I love his store announcement: “Hello. My name is Connor and I am seven years old. I like robots, Transformers and Legos. I have been drawing robots for 4 years. When I grow up I want to be a Legomaster and an artattack (the job where you make skyscrapers and stuff).” Too cute. Visit Connor’s store here. He has all kinds of fun stuff featuring his robot drawings.

Conner’s mom Cohen also has some lovely things in her store. I particularly like this card. She admits to liking trashy romance novels (I admit it, too…they are great bubble bath reading!) and in this piece used cut pieces out of one of her books to make the flower on the card. Very cool, huh! Since developing this new obsession with collage, I may have to purchase some of her fun cut outs, and I’ve already purchased a birthday card for my sister from her. Visit Cohen’s store here.

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Creative Every Day Painters...


Thought I'd let the girls participate in the Creative Every Day 2008 project, since as we all know, children truly are creative everyday! The girls really love painting with watercolors. I ordered them some of the crayons I featured below, and they said, "Oh, cool, Mommy. Thank you! Can I paint now?" as they put them in their crayon box. And as you can see from the photo below, the princess costumes remain on most of the time. I took this picture during nap time the next day!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Behind the Camera: The Hug

Well, I have to say this may be my new all time favorite picture of my girls. The family and I spent a few days down at my dad's in West Palm Beach over the holidays and we had a professional photo shoot while we were down there, so I can't take credit for this, but don't you just love it! It was shot by Gary Kane. I finally got my new camera up and running, so I hope to be taking lots more pictures myself. Creative Every Day 2008 update to come tomorrow....if I can figure out how to work my new scanner! I took a class last night! Like this post? Click here to sign up for free weekly email reminders.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Free Bling Friday Number 34!


It's Free Bling Friday time! Congrats to last week's winner, Maurie H. from Jacksonville. This week's entry features some fun little purple and green lampwork beads accented with amethyst Swarovski crystals and 14K gold filled findings. They hang approximately 1 inch on 14K gold filled posts. To be eligible to win this pair, simply email me by midnight Thursday, January 17, with the subject line FREE BLING and include where you're from. Don't want to miss a single Free Bling Friday? Click here to sign up for free weekly email reminders.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Just a Random Thought....

For those of you in faraway places, this just struck me. It's 6:26pm, and it's 73 degrees outside. We currently have all the windows and the back deck French doors open. I'm so glad I'm a born and bred Floridian. :-)

Number Four "What I Would Have"

...loved to have for Christmas. If I ever have the opportunity to go to a masked ball (that doesn’t involve kindergarteners), I would absolutely love to have a mask made by Andrea Masse-Tognetti. I can’t even remember how I stumbled across her shop, Merimask, but these are the most uniquely creative things I have ever seen.

From her website: “These unique leather masks and sculptures are the original creations of Andrea Masse-Tognetti, a self-taught artist who has been working exclusively with leather for over 8 years. No forms or molds are used, and no two are exactly alike. Every piece is an original, signed and dated by the artist. The masks are designed to be functional as well as beautiful. Consider them wearable art.

Each mask is cut freehand from the finest grade tooling leather. 7 to 8 oz. leather is used, which is a sturdy, rather thick piece of tanned cowhide, not unlike belt or boot leather. They are intricately carved and tooled, shaped by hand, and hardened with heat. The finished masks are extremely durable, yet surprisingly lightweight. They are painted with a combination of alcohol dyes and flexible acrylic paints, which are colorfast and do not crack or flake. The entire piece is then sealed with a clear acrylic coat, and is ready for wearing or displaying.”

Andrea has done work for Cirque de Soliel and her work can be seen in galleries nationwide. She also has some smaller very affordable wearables in her Etsy store…barrettes, keychains, and pins, like the maple leaf pictured here. Be sure to visit both her Etsy store and her website to see some truly amazing artwork. Her website is currently being renovated but there are still some stunning pictures there.

Creative Every Day 2008: Update....so talk about having to creatively think outside the box! My class started last night. Not only did all my students have the wrong book, thanks to an error in the bookstore, but we were in a computer classroom in which half the computers didn't even work properly. And those that did worked very slowly. College facilities at their finest! So I had to do some creative rethinking to juggle the class for the night. Took care of the bookstore error first thing this morning and am looking for another option for our in-class writings. Hopefully, my winning personality will keep them there after a rough first class! :-)

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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Kids Art Installment Number One--Nora

So I promised you some fun kids' art in my Encouraging Kids Art posting below. Aren't these just too fun? These are handmade crayons suited just for little ones' hands. This shape appears to be much easier for a toddler to grasp, doesn't it? I'm ordering a couple sets for my girls. They tell me they are no longer toddlers-- "We're pre-k-er's Mommy!"--but I know my little artists will love these. They are "made" by 2 1/2 year old Nora, with a little help from her mom, Rachael. Rachael told me her daughter's part lasts about 15 minutes...which is a pretty good attention span for a 2 1/2 year old! If you have some little ones in your life, you can order some of these here. Or see the whole Lilbitthree shop here. I warned Rachel she might be getting some more orders, so don't let me down!

Creative Every Day 2008: I'm still on the getting ready bent. Finally input my full spring schedule into my Outlook calendar today. Getting better organized! Real art to come soon!

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Monday, January 7, 2008

Number 5 "What I Would Have...."

...loved to have for Christmas! Is your husband gift challenged? Mine is, and he'll be the first to admit it. Though he did very well with the slippers I've been hinting about for months. We have hardwood floors and my feet are always cold. I guess maybe my slip down the stairs in my socks (taking out Sarah on the way down) was a final hint that I needed something with a little more "stick". So over the next two weeks, I'm going to share with you the things I would have pointed my DH to had I had any sense before the holidays, in no particular order. Why didn't I think of this in November? :-)

This awesome pendant is by Bev Gallerani of Mango Tango Designs. Bev uses precious metal clay (PMC) in her designs. When working with PMC, after a molding and firing process, you end up with 99.9% pure silver. Sterling silver is a minimum of 92.5% silver with copper comprising the rest. I took a mini PMC class last summer and loved it. I'd love to play around with it more, you know, because I have so much time on my hands, right? In the meantime, I'll just lust after Bev's work. Check out her designs on her website or in her Etsy store. She's also a miniaturist. See her amazing little miniatures here. I might have to have one of these for the girls' dollhouse!

Creative Every Day 2008: I completely cleaned up my workshop yesterday. Trust me when I say it really needed it. I had papers and hardwood floor pieces all over from redoing the dollhouse. Add to that various bags of stuff from Joann's and Michael's and a pile of new gemstones from Nora and you really could not see much actual workbench anywhere. I didn't have any luck finding the camera batteries I've been missing, but I did find several sticks of chapstick and numerous barrettes the girls have been missing. Now that I've gotten rid of the clutter, I can get back to the creating.

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Saturday, January 5, 2008

Encouraging Kids' Art


I got sucked into a very interesting Etsy forum thread for more than three hours last night. It was started by a woman who was thinking about opening an Etsy store for her kids to teach them the value of money, since like her, her kids are big crafters. She was looking for advice. That simple question turned into a huge, and often times nasty, debate between those who felt that kids deserved the right to share their creativity on Etsy just as much as adults did and those who adamantly disagreed for various reasons. It took me two hours to read the first thread alone (as I said, I really got sucked in) and then by the time I got to the end of that one, Etsy admin had closed it because of the nastiness involved. Another mom had started another thread even before the first one closed asking other moms if their kids were already selling on Etsy. That one stayed a bit more civil but some of the detractors from the first thread made their way over and continued to voice their objections. I posted in that one. My comments are below. Things added in [ ] are thoughts that have popped up as I’ve written this post.
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All I can say is wow. I read the entire thread that started this conversation and have now read this entire thread. My basic thoughts on the topic lean more towards letting kids sell their work if they want to, with proper supervision and guidance. I'd prefer it be through their parents store if they are in elementary school, but if they are in middle or high school and are bright and capable enough to run their own store, with their parents supervision as Etsy requires, then more power to them. [It’s a heck of a lot more valuable than hanging out on MySpace for hours on end.] I've seen some truly incredible artwork done by children. Like some who have posted in either of these threads, I work in education and I see the value that art brings to kids' lives, no matter their skill level.

Yes, I know those of you touting the legal aspects of this discussion will throw darts at me now. Go ahead. I have twins: I can handle anything. :-) When it all comes down to it, however many legal articles or opinions are shared, it's Etsy's decision and it's been documented in the other thread that’s now been closed. Will they change it based on these threads. Who knows?


However! In reading through both of these threads, the thing that has troubled me most has been the negative attacks. Why can't we all just get along? I've been on Etsy for about 8 months...haven't sold much, but have bought a lot because I've seen some great stuff and I want to support other artists. I have a blog on which I feature great Etsy finds all the time. I do juried arts festivals and I sell online much better on my own personal website, but I'm still here because I enjoy the venue and meeting other artists and craftsmen. I'm a member of three street teams and I think this is a great site. I do agree with some of the posters who've said quality is definitely all over the place. There are some amazing artists here and, yes, there are some things listed here that look like they have been created by very untalented children...when they've been created by adults.

But you know what? So what! The fact is, everyone here, no matter their skill level, has taken the time to share a piece of themselves through their art, whatever that may be. Personally, I'd be much more likely to buy a piece of art from someone with a positive attitude than someone sending out snippy remarks in a forum thread. Near the beginning of this thread Baleen said "Isn't the spirit of Etsy about creating things rather than ripping them down?" I couldn't agree more. I was shocked by a comment on the other thread essentially questioning someone's parenting skills. There should be no place for that here.

In this thread, JennyGardener said "How, as a community, can we support young artists while still respecting the integrity of Etsy and what it proposes to do? I think this is a key question. How can we encourage and support our young artists without either condescending to them or putting them in sketchy legal/social situations? How can we ensure the best quality of work and business at Etsy for ALL sellers and buyers?"

Jenny makes a great point, and it's not just about supporting young artists and it's not even just about art. It's about supporting ALL artists in a positive fashion, no matter their art OR their opinions. Do I personally like stuffed animals with cuss words on them [something that came up in the thread earlier]? No, but I also believe everyone has a right to express their own creativity. To each his own. Just mark it MATURE and don't list it in toys.

I come to Etsy for inspiration. POSITIVE inspiration. Why can't we all just be respectful of each other without being petty? And encourage without judging? Okay, go ahead and throw your darts now....
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So yes, as you can see that thread got me a little fired up, mainly because I saw no need for the nastiness. There were some examples shared by parents having sections in their stores for their kids’ art, and there really was some great stuff! My girls are still far too young to do something like this, but I’m definitely encouraging their crafty side. We made the purses you see here together. They both laid out their own designs. All I did was handle the hot glue gun (and burned the heck out of my fingers more than once….). Livvie designed the single bow purse, Sarah the double. In the next couple weeks, I’ll post some of the amazing artwork done by kids under 18 I found through that thread. And by the way….I think I did a double whammy on the Creative Every Day project today…sharing more writing and helping the girls with their purses! Any comments you’d like to share on kids’ artwork? Just click the comments box below!

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Friday, January 4, 2008

Free Bling Friday Number 33!

Welcome to the first Free Bling Friday of 2008. And I have a request of you all...One of my goals this year is to really get the word out about Happy Shack Designs in general. The best advertisement is word of mouth! Please share the Happy Shack website with your friends and family!

Also, for those of you within a couple hours of Jacksonville, I'm currently scheduling a few home shows for January, February and early March, before my spring festival schedule kicks in. Then I'll be doing home shows again over the summer. Home show hostesses earn 20% of the sales in shopping credit or 15% of the sales in a cash donation to the charity of their choice. Contact me if you are interested!

And now for the Free Bling. This week's entry is a lovely combination of purple chalcedony gemstone briolettes and Swarovski crystal in shades of purple. They hang approximately 1 1/4 inches on sterling French wires. To be eligible to win this pair, simply email me by midnight Thursday, January 10, 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!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Creative Every Day 2008

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to challenge myself to try new things when it comes to my creative brain. I mentioned in my Out with the Old, In with the New post that I’m going to be adding other pieces of art, wearable and otherwise, to my website this year, and this is my kick in the pants: Creative Every Day 2008. This project was started last year by Leah over at Creative Every Day, and I asked her to count me in this year. I know that with my crazy schedule, the chances of my posting something creative everyday are rather slim, but thankfully Leah assured me she’ll not be acting as the Creative Every Day taskmaster, especially since the measure of creativity in this project casts a very broad net!

So for today, I’ve been thinking about my first creative project, and I’m actually getting paid for it! There’s a bonus! I’ve taught college English off and on for nearly twenty years (I started when I was 12), and I’m getting back into the classroom this semester with one class. So today, I’ve been putting my creative brain to work on my course outline. Classes start Monday and my class meets Wednesday nights. Wish me luck!

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Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year Blog Special Sale!

I have a special sale just for my loyal blog readers! Right now everything on the Happy Shack Designs website is on sale 15% off. However, if you enter "blog special" in the "How did you find me?" box at check out, you get an additional 10% off! Wait for me to invoice you the correct sale amount before paying as it won't show up in your invoice. I'm ready to clear out some 2007 pieces and make room for 2008! Now, help me start the new year making room for new items, and Go Shopping! Sale runs through January 15.