Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Greatest Achievements...

You know, having two and a half weeks off can be very deceiving. I’m down to the final countdown (I have to go back to work on Monday) and I realized I’ve really done very little other than run the girls around town in our two and a half weeks off. I had grand plans…paint the bathroom (I did at least get the paint and supplies), photograph all my jewelry I haven’t photographed yet (we’re talking several dozen pieces here, yet to get to that), make my apron for my Artful Journey apron swap (picked up a generic apron at Hobby Lobby yesterday and now have to figure out how the heck to embellish it…open to suggestions!), start on my ATCs for our Artful Journey swaps (oh, now I remember what I’ve been saving those cut up cereal boxes for!), weed the flower beds in the front yard (yeah right, like that was really gonna happen)…and the list goes on. Problem is, when we haven’t been in the car driving around town, I’ve gotten distracted by other things. I made some Christmas tags, and some Christmas Eve art, and Monday night, I made this fun little collage. It’s on a piece of scrap wood we used to build my shelves which now hold all my stamps. I’ve discovered that I like working on wood a lot better than on canvas. And it’s much cheaper! The back has a cute story behind it. Sarah had written “I Love You” on the back of the piece of wood before I did anything with it. I really struggled with covering it up when I was finishing the back of the piece! So I told Sarah about it, and she said she’d just write it again for me. Adds a nice finishing touch, don’t you think?


Sunday, December 27, 2009

10 Years of Lessons

I wrote this essay last summer. It was written from a Studio Mothers creativity prompt, "my mother's house," and it’s a reminder of today.

~~~~~~~~~~

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.

~~~~~~~~~~

Ten years ago today, my mother committed suicide. It’s very hard to explain what that does to a child, especially a daughter losing a mother, no matter the age. I was 34; my sister was 24. I was angry with my mother for a while; I felt very abandoned and suffered a major loss of self worth. The fact that Mom thought she had nothing to live for when, in fact, she had two daughters, one with grandchildren on the way, hit hard, and I went through a couple years of serious soul searching. But after a while, I realized there was nothing I didn’t do, nothing I could have done, that could have helped her. My sister reached that point as well, and we are much closer now than we’ve ever been, coming out of that darkness together.

Over these past ten years, I’ve learned so many valuable lessons that have stemmed from that loss. I now know that I will never make everyone happy, so I don’t try. I know that I am the one and only person responsible for my own happiness. I know that in order for me to be a happy, healthy person who can take care of her family, I must take care of me first, and then take care of my family. And I know that involves being a tad selfish at times. I know that there are angels. And I know that like my grandmother had a vision of my girls just days before she died, I know my girls have seen their own grandmother. I’ve seen it in their little faces, especially when they were babies and they’d smile and giggle at something over my shoulder, yet every time I’d turned to look, there’d be nothing there. I see it in them now as they find their faith and ask me questions about her. I’ve felt her presence around me when I’ve needed it most. I’ve felt her encouragement when I’ve been afraid to take a step. I’ve heard her laughter when I’ve needed joy. And I’ve learned that she remains, in me, in my children, in the angel on top of my Christmas tree, in this life that I have created with this family. She’s here.

My friend Debbie gave me a Christmas gift that touched me deeply. It was just a picture frame really, nothing special, except for the message it contained. Before I opened it, Deb said, “I saw this and immediately thought of you.” Engraved on the frame was the phrase “Blessed are the Happiness Makers.” Deb and I met just weeks after Mom died;  Benny and I were at Ted’s one night when Debbie and her husband walked in, saw that there were no open tables, looked at me, pulled up a chair and said, “You’re cute, and I want to meet you. Can we sit with you?” A much needed new friend sent by an angel above. Blessed are the Happiness Makers. Through all this, from this loss, I have made happiness…better than a banana eating a bowl of cereal on top of a school bus happiness. Thank you, Mom, for that most important of lessons.

Update, January 30, 2013:  I wrote a follow-up to this post, telling my girls the full truth about my mother's death, here

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas Eve

It’s Christmas Eve day, and amazingly I have the house to myself for a few precious hours. DH, in traditional last-minute fashion, headed out for his Christmas shopping this morning and took the girls with him. Once shopping was complete (I think it took a total of 30 minutes), they decided to stop by the Zoo for a while since it’s such a nice day outside. Since I had a little time to myself, I headed down to my studio to create a little Christmas joy for our friends we are visiting tonight. I used the same paper I used to create my Christmas tags I showed you earlier this week. I’m pretty happy with them for a little down and dirty playing around!

Growing up, my family always spent Christmas Eve at my Nana’s. It was always a fairly big gathering, with cousins and friends, and best of all, Nana’s oyster stew. Supposedly the recipe was incredibly easy, just oysters, milk, butter and Velvetta cheese, but no matter how many times Mom or my DH tried, neither could ever get the taste just like Nana’s. Nana died of complications from Alzheimer’s just three weeks after the girls were born. When my Aunt Livy went to visit her shortly after they were born, she said, “I know! I saw them! They have the most beautiful red head!” Somehow, God gave her a glimpse from her hospital bed. That was a blessing.

So the gifts are wrapped, and the menu for tomorrow is planned: a Southern waterfront Christmas dinner with DH’s version of Nana’s oyster stew—his own oyster chowder—grilled shrimp, fried flounder caught off the dock, and a big side of grits. All that’s left to do today is bake some cookies for Santa, visit our friends, put out the reindeer food, and read the girls The Polar Express before tucking them in to bed. Then it’s time for Santa to get to work! We’ve got a Barbie Glamour Camper to assemble! Enjoy the holiday with your families.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Wishing You...

Had fun making some Christmas tags on Sunday, just in time to put a few in the mail yesterday. Hope you are having the merriest of Christmases and happiest of holidays.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Behind the Camera: Florida Flurries

My sister’s snowed in. I told her that’s what she gets for leaving Florida and settling in the Washington DC area. :-) I know, I know….there are those of you that love the snow. I’m just not one of them. In the brief periods I’ve been in it for a couple ski trips, I didn’t care for it one bit. That, of course, may be because I’ve lived my entire life in Florida, grew up on water skis, and even with my natural athletic ability (she says as she trips down the stairs), I simply couldn’t make the switch from water to snow. Each time I’ve gone, I’ve spent more time on the ground than actually gracefully swooshing down the slopes, so I guess it’s just not for me. And YES, I took lessons! No good. Oh well, I’ll stick to the beach.

So here’s my contribution to the snowy days of late some of you have been experiencing. I took this shot on our weekend walk through the 100 Acre Wood this morning. My Florida flurries. I love the way the script I layered behind the photo gives it a little ethereal quality. Should I list it in my Etsy shop? It has the same feel to it as the one I shared with you here. Whatever your weather, I hope you are enjoying the season.

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Fishing Pole, Huh?

Running errands yesterday morning…

Sarah: “Mama, did you know that when you die, God has a fishing pole and he casts it down to hook your shirt and reel you up to Heaven?”

Mama: “Wow, a fishing pole, huh? I didn't know that.”

This is our sky, just waiting for a fishing pole to pop out. We may have a view of a power plant to the west, but we get some awesome sunsets. That’s God’s magic right there. Here’s another of my girls’ “things they say about God.” In all the hustle and bustle of the season, I wish you the joy of remembering why the season’s here at all. Take a look at this video.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Help Us Spread the Word: Art and Dreams Bound

Carmen and I are ready to hit the ground running to get the word out about Art and Dreams 2010 with Carmen Torbus at the Purple Cottage. I’ve added a “grab our button” link over there in the right sidebar, and if you have a blog, we’d LOVE, LOVE, LOVE for you to help us spread the news! Please let us know if you add it to your sidebar, and we’ll give you a special little shout out here and on the Purple Cottage website sidebar. Thanks so much for your support! I hope some of you will considering joining us in person! You can read about my dream of creating the Purple Cottage here and my dream for its permanent home here.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Behind the Camera: Hearts

Little Livvie hands finding little Livvie hearts in the 100 Acre Wood.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

From Market, from Market....Days

So, see that booth? Yeah, that one up there, and down there? (You can click on the photos to enlarge them.) Holy cow, I must have been out of practice and out of sorts and out of something because it took me nearly FIVE HOURS to set up my Market Days booth…by myself! Now I will say, Market Days is a difficult set up to begin with because you have to dolly from your vehicle outside the building to your booth spot inside the building, and I had the good luck to be right smack dab in the middle of Building 4. Then once you get your booth set, you have to figure out how to rig your lights. But once I was set up, Building 4 and Building 2 were the two best spots to be because those two buildings are insulated! It was cold last weekend (for North Florida anyway!) and the buildings have no heat! But once you added lots of bodies to the insulated interiors of Buildings 2 and 4, the temperature was just right.

Overall it was a good show. My sales weren’t quite as high as they were last year, but given the economy, that was to be expected. Market Days does a phenomenal advertising job and has a great early bird program Saturday morning (gates opened for those with early bird tickets at 8am), so things were really hopping on Saturday all the way up to about 3pm…when everyone went home to watch the Florida/Alabama game. This is the South, after all. You could have heard a pin drop in there by that 4pm kickoff. Sunday was a bit slower, but still fairly steady.

The guys behind me, Mickey and Jeff, were a lot of fun…two good old Southern boys from Thomasville, Georgia, selling pecan and peanut brittle made from Mickey’s grandmother’s recipe. Good Lord, that stuff was good! Mickey’s family just recently sold the company to a production company in Minnesota, so there you had two good old Southern boys selling brittle made from Grandmother’s recipe but produced in Minnesota! A little convoluted, but they just about sold out, and they had boxes upon boxes upon boxes of the stuff. I told them my father-in-law made chocolate covered peanut and pecan brittle that was absolutely to D-I-E for (DH and I call it crack because it’s so addicting), and their eyes lit up like they just might have to have that production company add a little chocolate to a few batches. We’ll see what they show up with next year!

Market Days wraps up my shows for the year. Next stop will actually be back in Tallahassee in late March for Springtime Tallahassee. In the meantime, I’ll get caught up on my website and spend some good time just playing around and enjoying the creative process. After all, I still need to get ready for Artful Journey in February! And then for the first Purple Cottage retreat with Carmen in May! Yay!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Treasury Thanks!

12-3 kellyphoto

Bad blogger, I’ve been lately! Things have just been a tad busy here in North Florida. Here’s a gorgeous treasury I was featured in late last week. My thanks to jrzygirlphotography for featuring this group of POE photographers. My Big Joe is bottom row right. I’ll have a Market Days report for you tomorrow! I hope you all are doing well!

Friday, December 4, 2009

December Free Bling

Free Bling Friday time! Random.org picked number 6 out of 30 entries (two entered via email!) for November’s Free Bling winner, so congrats to Cara from Texas!

For December, here’s my “Bliss” photo as a glass tile pendant. Why did I title this “Bliss,” you ask? These were my sister’s wedding flowers. :-) You can find this photo in my Etsy shop here. The pendant comes complete with a silver-tone ball chain cut to your desired length. To be eligible to win, simply leave a comment in the comment box (be sure you leave me a way to reach you and where you are from!) or email me with the subject line FREE BLING and include where you're from by midnight Thursday, December 31. Want two entries? Tweet, blog or Facebook this giveaway and leave a second comment with the link. The next winner will be drawn via random.org Friday, January 1, 2010. Don't want to miss a single Free Bling Friday? Click here to sign up for free weekly email reminders or subscribe in the reader of your choice in the right column over there. Be sure to join my Facebook Fan page over there in the right column as well for Fan specials!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Today is My Birthday....

Today is my birthday. I’m 44. While I was driving the girls to school this morning, we were fittingly singing along to Taylor Swift’s “Fifteen” on the radio. When I was 15, my parents were 35, so when my parents were 44, I was 24. With my two six-year-olds, I can’t imagine being the parent of a 24-year-old right now. I’m not a huge Taylor Swift fan, but I do agree the girl’s got talent, and her sweet little song got me thinking about how far I’ve come, who I was at 15, and who I am today.

At 15, I was in the 10th grade at Orange Park High School. A few of my closest friends then are still a few of my closest friends now, and I owe Facebook a thanks for reconnecting with a couple of them. At 15, I was fairly quiet and shy. My circle of friends consisted primarily of fellow band geeks (yes, I was a marching band geek; I was on the flag and rifle twirl team). My parents were both on their second marriages, but even given that, overall I remember being a pretty content kid. In the middle of 10th grade, I became very sick with an infection called Quinsy (upon a later visit to Mount Vernon, I learned that was what George Washington died from!), complicated with tonsillitis. I needed to have my tonsils removed but couldn’t until the infection was cleared up, so I ended up spending about two weeks in the hospital and lost more than 20 pounds. I remember that my room in the old Riverside Hospital faced Memorial Park, and I would sit there at the window for hours drawing the park. I wonder what happened to all those old drawings. Once everything cleared up, my grandfather sent me, 5’10” and 125 pounds following my illness, to modeling classes, and thus began my 10-year modeling stint. My confidence increased and my shyness started to fade away, but I don’t think I totally blossomed and really came into my own until I went away to college, discovering a whole new world of adventure and opportunity. Still, I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up (I started out as an Interior Design major and graduated as a Communications major and now work in Higher Education, go figure).

Today, at 44, I still feel like I’m 24 at times. The old body has more aches and pains than I used to have but I still “feel” very young. And I think maybe now I finally know what I want to be when I grow up. Take my blogging friend e.beck.artist as an example. THAT is what I want to be when I grow up. Elizabeth revels in her children and revels in her art and revels in the fact that she gets to make a life out of the two. No 9-to-5 commitment for her. She left that behind shortly after her own twins were born (see, there’s another reason I love her so much…that and the fact that she says “Rah!” a lot :-). I’ve always loved playing with art, but this little blog of mine has opened me up to a whole new world of creativity and creative friends who inspire me daily.

I took this picture above in New York City this summer. I’ve been to New York nearly a dozen times, but I never noticed this “gate” to Central Park until this year. And it’s not in the least bit hidden! It’s right there on 59th Street at the south end of the park near the Plaza Hotel. I think it must have caught my eye this year for the first time because maybe I finally am, at 44, coming into my own. I may never be a world famous artist, but the more I play with art, the happier I become. For the most part, I have a pretty happy, mellow spirit to begin with, but it seems to be enhanced when I have paint, glue, paper, a camera, gorgeous beads and silver wire, or whatever random art supply I pick up, all around me. So as I enter this next year, I’m going to continue walking through that gate. And play. And dream. And enjoy every precious moment with my family, playing and dreaming with me. Who knows what we’ll find down that path?

Last year's birthday post is still one of my favorites...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Dream Begins!


In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I wanted to share just one thing that I’m particularly grateful for this year. Yes, I’m most grateful for this incredible family I have been blessed with: two incredible little redheads who can make me laugh and make me cry all in the same moment…they are a true blessing; and my husband, who puts up with all my crazy ideas, no matter how hare-brained he make think they are…he has the patience of Job; and my sister, 10 years younger than I, we weren’t very close growing up, but now as adults, we grow closer by the day.

But aside from my blessings of family, dear friends and all of you treasures who take the time to read this little blog of mine, this year I’m also particularly grateful for the power of dreams, and for the courage to take a risk and follow them. And I’m grateful for Carmen, whose work you see here, for having the confidence in me to help us both work towards fulfilling a dream. My dream of a Purple Cottage and her dream of sharing her talents have merged into something we are both very excited about. The doors of The Purple Cottage are now open, and Art and Dreams Bound with Carmen Torbus is ready to go! Go take a look! I hope you’ll be able to join us!

~And I would be remiss in not admitting I’m grateful for chocolate, and for the chance to sneak a few licks of the brownie and cake batter bowls after I’ve poured the batter into the cake and brownie pans. There’s a very good reason I don’t make a huge effort to get all the batter out of the bowls.~

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pumpkins and Pies and Cheesecakes, Oh My!

I took this picture on a recent walk through the 100 Acre Wood. The one little berry poking out caught my eye. We’re getting ready for all the Thanksgiving festivities today. Growing up, I remember having huge Thanksgiving gatherings with my cousins down in Lakeland, usually at my Great Aunt Margaret’s house. We lost Aunt Margaret shortly before Mom died, so since then our Thanksgivings have been more on intimate side, which suits me just fine. It’ll just be me, DH and the girls along with DH’s brother, Pops, and Pops’ lady friend (hours of prep for 20 minutes of eating and all day spent watching football….that’s the best part for us). As I write, I have a Key Lime Pound Cake in the oven and I’m getting ready to make a Pumpkin Cheesecake. The girl with the sweet tooth is responsible for the desserts! My only other responsibility is my mom’s world famous Potato Casserole. DH is taking care of the ribs (instead of turkey), green beans and squash casserole. The Thanksgiving post I wrote last year is still one of my all-time favorite posts, so if you haven’t read it, I’ll share it with you again here. Enjoy your holiday, however you choose to spend it!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Adventure Cats on the Loose

That’s my Tink in that graffiti photo! My assistant Angie created this picture using a cool website called Photofunia. How fun this that? Timely too, considering the weekend my felines had. Savannah disappeared Thursday night, sneaking out through the sliding glass door left open by a friend who was staying with us downstairs. I didn’t see her all day Friday, and then late Friday night I heard terrible screeching and howling outside. I called her and looked all around but couldn’t find her. I left that same door open Friday night, hoping she’d make it back in and, lo and behold, there she was Saturday morning looking frazzled and hungry. Outside next to the driveway, we found big clumps of her fur. Poor girl! Not sure what she got in a fight with, but it wasn’t pretty. Normally, she sleeps on the floor at the foot of my bed, but Saturday night, she slept on my chest all night.

Saturday afternoon, Tink disappeared. Weekends with nice weather, we usually leave the doors open downstairs so both the kids and the dog can go in and out with ease. Apparently Tink snuck out while we weren’t looking (usually Isabelle does a fabulous job keeping her in check). We looked for her the rest of the day Saturday, Saturday night and all day Sunday with no luck. Then as I was cleaning up the dinner dishes last night, I heard her crying and found her on the front porch, also looking frazzled and hungry. She's not quite back to her oldself as she doesn't appear to have come out of the bedroom all day today, not even for dinner. My adventure cats need to learn to stay in the house where they live in the lap of luxury.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

More Art in the Mail

Did I tell you this is addicting? Here’s my second mail art piece I made last weekend. I did this one on a bubble wrap envelope so it was a little more difficult to work with. Note to self: don’t use bubble wrap envelopes for mail art. :-) I’m working on two more today for a very dear friend who just lost her father this week.

I spent some time at the jewelry bench last night too! I have one of my biggest shows of the year coming up the first weekend in December, Market Days in Tallahassee, and this will be the first time I’ve combined both my jewelry and my photography at that show. My Harvey Collection series was shot just down the road from Tallahassee, so I’m hoping they will attract some interest! Now I just need to get a few more new jewelry designs completed (oh, and I need to matt dozens of square format photos I haven’t gotten around to matting yet…yes, I am the world’s most proficient procrastinator!), and we’ll be good to go. Luckily, I’ll have five days off with the Thanksgiving holiday coming up. I can’t imagine how crazy things would be if I ever decided to include mixed media pieces in my shows!

I also had a great talk with Carmen last night and we are just about ready to release all the info for our retreat! Yippee! We are both so excited. It’s called Art and Dreams Bound with Carmen Torbus, and Carmen has some fantastic things in store for you. Hope some of you can come! This has been such a wonderful experience for me…being able to use my everyday skill set of retreat and conference planning and turning it into an artful experience. Not much difference between art and leadership when it comes down to planning a retreat! We’ve had to move the date to May 21-23 instead of the earlier April date, but everything is coming together wonderfully. I’ll have the info posted shortly!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Art in the Mail!

I’ve been wanting to play around with mail art for a while and finally created a few pieces this weekend. My step-mom Sharon had been asking for some new pictures of the girls for months, so I figured since it took me so long to send them to her, I’d at least dress up the envelope! This piece was done on a 6"x9" photo mailer. I really had fun creating this, and I can see that it could become addicting! Thanks to Roben-Marie for the inspiration.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

All Tagged Up

I was incredibly productive this weekend! My dad was in town for a visit and he’s always up for a project so I talked him and DH into finally putting up my shelves I’ve been wanting in my studio. Whoo hoo! I’ve filled them with all my rubber stamps. Yes, I could show you a picture, but I didn’t think to take one before I trashed my workshop playing again. I’ll work on that! As for the playing, here’s one of my creations from the weekend. I mentioned Roben-Marie’s altered art tag tutorial in my last post, so here’s my first tag. Click on the photo to enlarge. It took me a couple incarnations to get it like I wanted it, but I’m happy with the finished product! The back (below) actually includes a strip cut from the failed first attempt. Perfect for recycling! I’ve had this phrase in my head for a few weeks from a nursery rhyme challenge I saw somewhere, so I finally put it to good use. I’m finding that I’m definitely a finger-painter. :-)

So what's my wish? My wishes lately have been funneled into my Purple Cottage. Carmen and I are almost ready to release our first program! What are you wishing for?


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Playing with Ink and Stencils

Yesterday morning I spent some time catching up on Roben-Marie Smith’s video tutorials. Roben-Marie is an excellent teacher! The altered art tags video sent me to the office supply store to pick up some shipping tags. But before I started playing on those, the girls and I spent last night playing around with stencils and punchinella (sequin waste) and spray inks on plain white index cards. We had ink EVERYWHERE. I need to learn a little self control there. These are just a few of our experiments. And yes, the colors truly are that bright and vibrant (you know I’m a color girl!). This stuff is addicting. I must admit after playing with what I had, I went online and ordered 12 colors of the Adirondack color wash ink spray. Like I said, I need to learn a little self control! :-) Got a great price at MisterArt.com though! So today, I spent some time cleaning up and reorganizing my studio!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Dreaming of Art and Dreams...

On the heels on Carmen’s Spill It! online workshop, I’ve started taking Susan Tuttle’s Visual Poetry workshop, in which I’m learning tips and tricks in Photoshop for altering my photographs. I’m about a week behind (as usual, aren’t I always behind?…though this time it’s been because I’m still having too much fun playing with Carmen’s workshop). Thankfully, the first week covered techniques I’m already pretty familiar with. Now I just know how to do on purpose the things I’ve stumbled across on accident! I took this photo about a month ago while on my trip to check out my dream property, diffused the light levels a little bit and added another layer. Click on the photo to really see all the pretty script. Pretty dreamy, huh?

Speaking of dreamy, remember those baby steps I told you about here? We are picking up steam! I’m working Carmen, my fellow dreamer for this first round, to create our first art retreat! Yippee! Carmen will handle the teaching while I handle the logistics. I plan and facilitate leadership retreats and conferences in my day job, so what better way to take what I can already do with my eyes closed and make it artful. Carmen and I are both so excited! I hope to have the website for the program up soon…the first official trip to the Purple Cottage…and Carmen’s program will be Art and Dreams with Carmen Torbus. For now, mark your calendars to take a fun little trip to North Florida April 9-11, 2009. Details to come! Yeah!

Update: We've had to move the date to May 21-23, but we are almost ready to release all the details! Yippee!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Playing Catch Up

Cleaning up my mess of a studio today, I found several requests I’ve been needing to get too. One was a mother’s bracelet that needed to be reworked and another name added, and the second were these earrings. Ms. Lily’s probably forgotten all about them by now! Her request was completely buried in a basket the girls had filled with their stuff (everyone’s stuff ends up in my studio). Ms. Lily purchased these from me at the Bartow Blooming Arts Festival in March 2008 and lost one last Fall (yes, that would be Fall 2008). She mailed the orphan back to me and asked if I could make it a pair again. Well, better late than never, I guess. They are finally on their way. The stones on the bottom are aquamarine, topped with clusters of khaki and lt. Colorado topaz Swarovski crystals with 14K gold-filled findings. Since I’ve been working on so many varied art forms here lately, my studio is in a constant state of undo! Sorry for the glare; getting a little late in the afternoon to be taking pictures! Now if I could just find my special little packaging box….

Friday, November 6, 2009

November Free Bling!

Free Bling Friday time! Random.org picked number 52 out of 52 entries (two entered via email!) for October’s Free Bling winner, so congrats to Andrea V. from Rock Falls, IL.

For November, how about a little bling for your home? November’s entry is my “Watching Melrose” photo mounted on a 6” x 6” wood block. You can find this photo in my Etsy shop here. These look great sitting in a window sill or on a shelf. To be eligible to win, simply leave a comment in the comment box (be sure you leave me a way to reach you and where you are from!) or email me with the subject line FREE BLING and include where you're from by midnight Thursday, December 3. Want two entries? Tweet, blog or Facebook this giveaway and leave a second comment with the link. The next winner will be drawn via random.org Friday, December 4. Don't want to miss a single Free Bling Friday? Click here to sign up for free weekly email reminders or subscribe in the reader of your choice in the right column over there. Be sure to join my Facebook Fan page over there in the right column as well for Fan specials!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Dream Takes Shape: Part I

I was catching up with some Facebook friends last week and my blogging and art friend Carmen shared, “Having an article and blog feature in this issue of Artful Blogging is a dream come true! What's on your list of dreams?” I shared with you one of my dreams in my Purple Cottage post. Then I told you I’d be checking out a piece of property I’ve been watching for quite a while in this post. I’ve admitted here before that I haven’t totally bought into the whole “universe bringing you what you desire” concept just yet, but some little things here and there have been leading me more towards believing that, and my little visit to check out this property was a big knock on the head! I’ve known the property since college; it’s been unoccupied for at least 15 years. In that 15 years, it’s also never been for sale. So, guess what? The first time I go over to seriously take a look at it? Yep, big For Sale sign right up front. Here are a few pictures.

Walking around the property, I was able to really think through my dream, standing right there…right where it could actually happen. There are 10 small cottages and two small-house type structures on about 3.5 acres with 700’ waterfront footage and two docks with 16 boat slips, and then another 4 acres of undeveloped land across the street. All the structures, as well as the docks, are in good solid shape; they just need some TLC and cosmetic enhancements. So what would I do with it? The cottages would remain just as they were initially meant to be used, for lodging. They are all about efficiency size, though I’d put double queens in each for bedding to allow for more flexibility. I’d renovate one of the larger buildings into a classroom/workshop space and the other into a café/gallery space with “front office” facilities. I’d use the facility as a whole for all-inclusive art retreats, wellness retreats, and corporate team-building retreats. While the cottages are not being used for retreats, the facility would essentially be a B & B, targeting couples/families and/or corporate big wigs looking for a unique, peaceful getaway. We’d have charter fishing services available for both the retreat attendees (thinking bored husbands/boyfriends here) and B & B guests. We’d subdivide the property across the street so it remains deeded separately from the “business” property since that’s where we’d build our houses.

I have a close friend I’ve been thinking this through with. Kath has been a high level exec with Coca-Cola since we graduated from college and is ready to escape from the corporate world. We are the perfect team for this. I have the retreat planning, leadership, team-building, and art background, and she has the wellness, business and corporate contacts background. Our husbands would handle the excursions, dining and general maintenance aspects. She also has twin boys who would grow up having the hots for my twin redheads. :-)

So back to Madame Universe and her connection to the property and my current employment. As I was driving over to see the property, I got the call to schedule my final interview for my position of choice. Then, boom. The next morning, there’s this big For Sale sign staring me in the face. My dream, right there ready to happen. That was a Friday; my interview was scheduled for first thing Monday morning. Interesting timing, don’t you think? When I didn’t get the offer for my first choice, that For Sale sign popped back into my head. Maybe that was part of my message that a new job was not the right thing for me right now. I’ve always been one to follow my gut, and once my top choice was off the table, I knew I needed to stay where I was.

So what’s next? What’s next is to just keep the dream alive while we work through the possibilities. The property is currently listed for $1.6 million, but given the economy, the amount of time it’s been sitting there, the fact the most others interested in it would probably be knocking down what’s there and starting from scratch, and what I’ve learned from others who have property in the area, I think we could get them down under $1 million. So we’ll see what happens. Initially I hesitated sharing my thoughts with you here, because once you put it out there, it’s out there for anyone to snag, right? But then I realized that if you don’t share your dreams with others, how can they help you get there? This particular piece of property may work out, and it may not, but it’s made me realize that I can do this...if not with this property, then with another. For now, though, baby steps. Still working out the details on my first baby steps, but I’ll share those with you soon! In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions on my initial plan.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Right Where I Need to Be

Sometimes I think it takes almost walking away from something to realize that what you currently have is truly a pretty good thing. That’s the lesson I learned last week. As I’ve shared with you guys here recently, I’d applied for a new job, still with the College but a little different focus than what I’m doing now. The process took a looooonnnnnnggggg time. However, I’m now done. :-) The results? I was one of two finalists for the position at the campus I was most interested in, but the position went to my competition. This Thursday, I’m scheduled to have my final interview for the position here on my campus. But I won’t be having that interview. Why? Well, since this process has taken so long, it’s given me the opportunity to really think things through, and I realized that I’ve got a darn good gig right where I am. I realized that I was far more attracted to the opportunity to once again work with a former colleague and supervisor than I was to the actual position itself, so I have officially pulled my name out of the hat.

I truly do enjoy my job (College-wide Coordinator of Student Life and Leadership Development for those of you wondering). Sure, there are the occasional rough spots, as all jobs have, but I know that I have a positive impact on the students that I work with, and I know that when they take the time to really listen, I’m teaching them very important life skills, while oftentimes having a darn good time in the process. More importantly, I have a heck of a lot of freedom and flexibility in my current role. That freedom and flexibility gives me the opportunity to do what’s most important when necessary: spend time with my girls. I can go on field trips with them, visit them at school for special programs, take a day off with them when needed without the world coming to an end. Moments after I met with my Campus President to tell her my decision, I felt the weight of the world lift off my shoulders. That’s when you know you’ve done the right thing.

All that said, I received another little knock from the universe here recently that also helped steer my path. Stay tuned. I’ll tell you what that was a little later this week. So, give it some thought. Maybe you are right where you need to be at this moment too.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Winding Down with Spill It!

In the spirit of full disclosure, here’s the last of what I’ve done with my two Spill It! canvases for Carmen’s class, at least for the transfer technique. The house came out better than the flower, but safe to say both of them will be collaged over for other projects. (First look at the house here.) I added some paint around the edges and a few more dabs here and there on the house, but there really was no hope for my flowers! I’ve been trying to figure out what went wrong here, and best I can tell, I, um we, scrubbed too much and got all the way back down to the canvas, which you can really see on the left side (below). I say “we” because I let Sarah and Olivia have their way with rubbing the paper off this one.

So what would I have done differently? First, I wouldn’t have tackled such a large canvas (11 x 14) for my first efforts. Smaller probably would have been better in this case. Second, I wouldn’t have had my friend Melissa, who owns a print shop, print the photo copies for me. I neglected to tell her what I was doing so she printed them out on nice, high quality glossy paper, assuming I was going to use them as they were…as photographs! When I asked Carmen about this, she agreed that the higher quality paper probably did make the rubbing off more difficult. Overall though, I learned a ton and Carmen is incredibly encouraging. I learned that I love making backgrounds the way Carmen demonstrated (here) and that I’m not crazy about image transfers. Still working through the basic collage and drip writing lessons so I’ll share those with you soon.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Teachable Moments

The girls had the day off yesterday for a county-wide teacher’s planning day, so I took the day off with them. We went into my campus first thing to put up the ribbons and flyers in remembrance of Somer Thompson. We have nearly 75 brick columns like the one you see here, and more than 50 of them are adorned like this (you can click on the photo to enlarge). Our campus president has already offered to waive Somer’s mother’s fees for her classes this term and provide her a presidential scholarship for next term. This morning I met with our Foundation representatives, and we are moving forward with establishing the Somer Thompson Memorial Scholarship Fund. The support from our Board of Trustees and Cabinet has been overwhelming. We’ll start raising seed funds at our regularly-scheduled Fall Fest event tomorrow and then once Somer’s mom has had a chance to get through this initial time, we’ll meet with her about the details of the scholarship. I really want her to have input into the requirements for the scholarship. If you’d like to contribute to the scholarship seed fund, please email me and I’ll send you the details.

While the girls were helping my students and I put the ribbons and flyers up, as six-year-olds will, they asked a lot of questions about the little girl on the flyers and why we were putting up the ribbons. I told them more about Somer and how important it was to remember her and celebrate her life. Each night when we put the girls to bed, I ask them what their favorite part of their day was. When I started our nightly ritual last night and asked Sarah about her favorite part of the day, she said, “Mama, first I want to tell you about the saddest part of the day.” “Okay,” I said, guessing where this was going, “what was the saddest part of the day?” She continued, “I’m really sad that that little girl was killed. I know her Mama must be really, really, really sad. Can we make her a card?” The sweetness of children… I told her that certainly we could, and then asked her what her favorite part of the day was. She replied, “Smoothing out the ribbons on the columns.” “Wow,” I said, “even more than the pumpkin patch!?” “Oh! I forgot about the pumpkin patch! Okay, that was a tie.”

In my line of work, we talk about “teachable moments,” experiences my students go through that provide valuable teaching lessons. Those teachable moments work for little ones, too. It’s sad to teach the lesson of Somer Thompson, but the opportunity to bring recognition to one child’s life to protect another’s is the most valuable lesson of all.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Behind the Camera: Pelican's Roost

“If there's any message to my work, it is ultimately that it's okay to be different, that it's good to be different, that we should question ourselves before we pass judgment on someone who looks different, behaves different, talks different, is a different color.”~Johnny Depp

Words to live by, don't you think? Sometimes it’s fun to play around in Photoshop and see what pops up. I took this photo in Port St. Joe a couple weeks ago.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The 100 Acre Wood

We’ve been enjoying some glorious weather here the past week…perfect for romps through the 100 Acre Wood, otherwise known as the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve and Fort Caroline National Monument/Theodore Roosevelt Area. With a name like that, you can understand why we simply call it the 100 Acre Wood. Pooh would be proud. Here’s a nice little GORP write up on the park. The Willie Browne trail is the main loop, off of which branch the Timucuan Trail, the Spanish Pond Trail, which loops over to the Fort, and the Round Marsh Trail, which ends at a lookout platform over the marsh. The Timucuan Trail is pretty technical, so it doesn’t get as much traffic…which means Isabelle can have her fair reign and the whole family gets in a good workout. This area boasts the greatest elevation changes in Jacksonville. There are some pretty hefty hills laced with lots of good old fashioned tree roots to keep you on your toes, lest you end up face first on your knees. I came across this leaf this morning after we had finished the Tim and were headed back to the Trooper via the Willie Browne. Pretty girl, don’t you think? Where’s your favorite close-to-home hike?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Still Spillin' It! with Carmen...

Playing a little catch up with Carmen’s online Spill It! class. I got around to doing my transfer lesson last weekend and haven’t posted it here yet! I have to admit after doing this, yes the process is pretty cool when you get it to work well, but no, I don’t think I’ll be doing a lot of transfers. I know myself and I don’t think I have the patience. This one still isn’t completely free of the paper that must be rubbed off. The picture is one I took of a 5th Avenue NYC building just across the street from the Metropolitan Museum. You can see the actual picture here (of course, I forgot to flip the image before I printed it out but luckily there was no text in the image so it really didn’t matter). I must have totally screwed up my other one, which is why I don’t feel the need to share it here. Either never got all the paper off or got too much paper off, not really sure! Needless to say, I’ll be collaging over that canvas board. On to the next lesson…this one is more basic collage like I’ve already been doing so I think I’ll do a little better. :-)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Remember....and Be the Change

Warning: This is not my usual feel good, Happy Shack post.

For the last three days, I, like probably everyone else in the Jacksonville metro area, have been overcome with the story of Somer Thompson. The story made the national news, but for those of you out of the area who’ve not heard about it, seven-year-old Somer disappeared on her way home from school Monday afternoon. She was walking home with her twin brother and 10-year-old sister when the trio got in a little squabble and Somer ran ahead of her siblings, disappearing into the cool fall afternoon. It was about 3pm. Her body was found in a dump in Folkston, Georgia, late yesterday afternoon.

Sadly, we hear more and more stories like these every day. I just learned this morning that another little girl, nine-year-old Elizabeth Olton, has been missing in Missouri since yesterday afternoon. All these cases are tragic, yet Somer’s story hit me incredibly close to home. I grew up in Orange Park, a suburb of Jacksonville, and lived less than two miles from where Somer’s family now lives. All my friends lived in that neighborhood, and we went to those neighborhood schools. One of my best friends lived on the same street as Somer’s family, and I rode my bike there several times a week. It’s unfathomable to think that a child was taken on a street that I played on many days of my young life.

The past couple of days I’ve been talking with my girls more about stranger danger, a very important yet very difficult conversation to have with two six-year-old little girls. It’s finding that thin balance between wanting them to remain safe and make good choices while not scaring them so much that they want to turn inward and never experience the joys of childhood that all children deserve. It’s amazing how much the world has changed in the 30-35 years since I was a kid in that neighborhood. So many of us who rode the streets for hours on our bikes, staying out until dark or until Mom yelled for us to come eat dinner, now are faced with a world in which we are often afraid to let our own children do the same.

I can only imagine the devastation Somer’s family is feeling right now, particularly her mother. I’ve been on the verge of tears for her for three days, many times letting them just spill over. To bring the story even closer to home, yesterday I learned that Somer’s mother is a student right here on my campus. My students and I are working on a memorial for Somer that will take place on Monday, and I’m working with our Foundation to establish a scholarship in Somer’s name. My hope would be that the first scholarship would be awarded to Somer’s mother, and then in subsequent years, to other single mothers struggling to make ends meet while trying to make a better life for their families. If you’d like to make a donation to this scholarship once it’s established, just email me and I’ll send you the information as soon as it’s available.

So today, no, not my usual upbeat post. Today, I’m asking you to hug your babies, no matter how old they are. And think about our world, think about your neighborhood, think about little Somer and all the other kids out there who are missing or lost. And think about their families. Pray for them. Hope for them. And think about what little things you can do to maybe make this world a better place.

"We must be the change we wish to see in the world."~Mahatma Ghandi

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sunday Night Murder Mystery

So what do YOU think happened here? Tell me your version of the story in the comments! (by the way, played with rollip yet?)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Fun! The Sketchbook Project

This is one of the coolest things I’ve come across in a while. I’m in the middle of Carmen’s Spill It! class and I still have to start preparing for the Artful Journey retreat in February, but this looked like too much fun to pass up. I even got a great theme! I was assigned “You are me.” I can think of tons of things to do with that. I immediately thought of this post. Visit the Sketchbook Project website and let me know if you want to join me.

On another note, DH is having a bit surgery today for his hand (carpal tunnel), so say a little prayer for him. He’s never had any type of surgery before, so he’s being a bit of a wuss. :-) I keep asking him if he wants to see the eight inch scar in my belly again or any of the myriad other smaller scars I have from my other female-related surgeries, and he keeps saying no thank you. This reminds me that God definitely knew what he was doing when he deemed women the bearer of the children.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Behind the Camera: Feeding Lorikeets

Since we live relatively near the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens (‘relatively’ is, of course, a relative term in the largest geographical city in the country), we decided becoming Zoo members would probably be a good investment. And it most definitely has turned out to be! The cost of our annual family pass equals a little less than four trips to the zoo. And since we do live so close, we go at least once a month. Heck, outside of football season and the heat of the summer, we probably go two to three times a month. The Jacksonville Zoo has grown and expanded dramatically since I was a kid and is truly now one of the nicest zoos in the Southeast. From the very beginning the girls have loved the lorikeet enclosure, but it’s only been fairly recently that they’ve become comfortable enough to feed them. I recall a lorikeet landing on Sarah’s head during one visit, leading her to run frantically around in a circle screaming until it flew off. It was one of those moments that Mom and Dad find hysterically entertaining while the child is certain she’ll be scarred for life. :-) Olivia still doesn’t like to let them land on her—she’d prefer they sit on my hand while she feeds them—but look at Sarah now. The credit for this picture goes to Melanie Speaks, who just happened to be visiting the lorikeets at the same time and caught this shot.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Love is Time

In my SLS class last night, we talked about values and time management and how our value structure plays a huge part in managing our time. I show an inspirational video in each class, and the one I showed last night struck a chord with just about everyone in the room. I showed it at the close of the class and at the end of it, I heard “awwww”s erupt from the room and then saw a few tears as they quietly filed out of the class. It has the same effect on me every time I watch it, so I thought I’d share it with you here. It’s a good reminder that time is precious and you may never know the effect you have on another person, simply because you took an extra moment to connect. Click here to enjoy.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Let the Crap Go

Olivia created this canvas with me on Saturday. I was working on my Spill It! assignment for Carmen’s class, and Livvie decided she wanted to try along with me. (Sarah chose to paint an “Open” and “Closed” sign for their room instead.) She was following along with me for the most part when I looked over at her and realized she was crying. Oh goodness. I immediately went over to her with my paint covered hands, tried to give her a hug without getting paint all over her, and asked her what was wrong.

“I keep messing it all up, Mama!” Livvie is a bit of a perfectionist. The one thing she was doing differently than me was that she was using a paintbrush, not her fingers, because she didn’t want to get paint all over her fingers (which surprised me because the child has no issue getting completely covered with mud in the back yard). But I guess—maybe because of her art resource period at school?—she thought that painting with a paint brush was the “correct” way to paint. I quickly took her over to my laptop and showed her some of the canvases our class had posted in our ning group…to show her that, like mine, none of them were “perfect.” (No offense to my Spill It! friends!) After that, I asked her to consider putting her paintbrush down, and I helped her smush some paint around with her fingers. Then I showed her how we could take the opposite end of her paintbrush and draw smiley faces in the wet paint. That got her. :-) From there, she tried a little of the bubble wrap method and then dipped the heart shaped cookie cutter I had given her into her pink paint and added the heart you see in the middle. After the addition of the stickers, she declared it done with a quiet smile on her face, remnants of tears still on her cheeks.

I’ve been thinking about that all week, particularly in regards to the expectations we put upon our children and our selves. I didn’t have any expectations for Livvie’s painting; I just wanted her to have fun. But because of her own expectations, she wasn’t having any fun at all at first. She’s been struggling a little at school, and we’ve had to meet with her teacher. Boy, did that break my heart. I was heartbroken for her because she was struggling, and I know that she notices that Sarah hardly ever struggles with her schoolwork, and I was heartbroken for me because she wasn’t meeting the “standards.” Terrible of me, huh. What standards? My standards? No, I guess they weren’t my standards, they were the school’s standards, but I realized my standards when it comes to academics are probably pretty high too. She's in first grade, for Pete's sake! I have to admit, I never struggled in school. Not even through grad school. School just always came easy to me. But I see that it doesn’t come easy to Livvie just yet. She’ll get there; we’re committed to helping her at her pace, in whatever way she needs, providing mountains of encouragement and positive reinforcement along the way. We’re spending more one-on-one time with the two of them while they are doing their homework so Livvie doesn’t have that in-your-face opportunity to compare herself with her sister.

Back to my expectations of myself… I guess because I was always good in school, I expected that I’d be able to help my girls be good in school. I’m finding that that’s going to be a big learning process for me. And then I think about my expectations in regards to all this art stuff. I’ve always played with art. But when I started playing with mixed media, I realized I was definitely going to have to lower my expectations for myself. The first mixed media piece I created with Wyanne taught me a big lesson. Like Livvie, I too, was a perfectionist! Wy sweetly told me that I was just going to have to let that “crap” go, just play, and not worry so much about the end result. Maybe that’s a really good life lesson too. Let the crap go…just play…and maybe everything will fall into place as it’s meant to be. That’s definitely a good lesson for me right now.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Black and White with Pearls for Maria

Created this piece recently for my long-time customer Maria. Again, not the best time of day to photograph jewelry, but here it is just the same. Maria first found me at the San Marco Arts Festival a few years ago and has been one of my best customers ever since. I think by this time she must have a Happy Shack piece to match just about any outfit! Not only is she a great Happy Shack ambassador, she’s also a mom to an adorable little boy she and her husband adopted from South America. She shares some of her story on her blog here. Go pay her a visit!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Spilling It! with Carmen Torbus

I’m taking an online workshop with my blog friend Carmen Torbus and am actually keeping up so far! I must admit, I’ve signed up for a few other online workshops that looked really fun and never had the time to get to them. I still have all the info for them and will get to them eventually, but I’m actually trying to keep up with this one as we go along! I’ll be traveling next weekend so that won’t be as easy, but we’ll give it a shot. These are my first two canvases for the workshop.

This week, we are just doing the background…though I’m realizing I have a hard time knowing when to stop. I didn’t use a paintbrush at all for either of these…just my fingers, bubble wrap, a credit card, tops to various jars, and in the top one a $1 foam stamp. The bottom one is actually a total redo. I wasn’t happy with the first version of it, so I gessoed over it and started over in another color scheme. Kinda cool though how some of the deep red/purple from the first version peeks through to the second. That was one of those “happy accidents.” Ready for the next step, Carmen!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Bling for the Fur Ball

I created this piece for the Fur Ball, which benefits the Leon County Humane Society (read about the Fur Ball on the home page!). It wasn’t a very good time of day to photograph jewelry, but I needed to get it in the mail and wanted to photograph it first regardless! If you look closely, you’ll see a couple little dog-themed charms mixed in. No, I don’t live in Leon County, I live Duval County, but Leon County, home to my wonderful Florida State University, is my second home, and I’m a sucker for animals. :-) Got the request to create something for their auction from my Etsy friend Lynsi. Go check out her fun little shop.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

If Only...


Conversation with Sarah while I was brushing her hair before school yesterday morning (picture taken on the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway)...

Sarah: Mama, is tomorrow a school day?

Mama: Nope, tomorrow's Saturday. Weekend's here!

Sarah: Livvie! Tomorrow's Saturday! We have two days off school!

Livvie: I wish the weekend was three days.

Mama: Me too.

Sarah: Me three. No! I wish the weekend was FOUR days. I wish "wish spray" worked on that.

Mama: Indeed.