CC Weekly Creativity Challenge: Hope

The prompt for Creative Construction’s weekly creativity contest this week was Hope. I took this picture of another one of our glorious sunsets recently and called it “Hope for a New Day”. I think “hope for a new day” could mean a lot of different things, don’t you think? Hope for your health, hope for your happiness, hope for a friend, hope for child’s laughter, hope for your next big thing…hope to have the courage to take a leap when needed (little hint to a friend, there ;-). What are you hoping for today?

Exciting Event on the Horizon: Riverside Arts Market!

I attended a meeting Saturday morning about the upcoming Riverside Arts Market. This is very long in the making and is going to be fantastic! I’m so excited! The enthusiasm of the team organizing and presenting it is definitely contagious. Jacksonville has been needing something like this for years, and Riverside Avondale Preservation is the perfect group to be organizing it. I’ve participated in the Riverside Arts Festival for a few years now, and they really do a top notch job. This market will run every Saturday, 10am-4pm, April through the weekend before Christmas. There will be art, music, a traditional farmer’s market and more. Life with twins and a full-time job may not allow me to do every single week, but I hope to make 2-4 per month if I’m accepted. Visit their website for all the details and plan to come out and support all the artists and vendors participating! Be sure to read the “About the Market” page to learn the history behind it.

So You’ll Know I’m Not Slacking…

My house is a construction zone! I’ve so wanted to get back down to my workshop and get busy on some new work, but we are STILL painting.

We are on to the biggest room of the house now. This room includes the great room, dining room, kitchen and open areas upstairs, so it’s a huge job. This is what I’m living in. The color is a little off here. Those of you who know me well know that, being a ‘Nole, orange is the last color I’d paint my house. This is a really pretty light terra cotta; it’s official name is “Terra Earth”.

Click on the photos to enlarge to get the true feel of the fact that the disruption has not stopped the girls from playing; their toys are mixed in everywhere, and I think they are truly enjoying playing amongst this fun new jumbled furniture arrangement. Most of this furniture will be finding a new house as I've splurged on a gorgeous new Pottery Barn sectional in a neutral stone color. I'm still deciding between keeping the cranberry chairs and losing the plaid chair, or recovering the plaid chair in a fun fabric and losing the cranberry chairs.

This wall above the kitchen is our biggest challenge. As you can see, it STARTS nine feet above the floor and rises up to 22 feet. It will most likely be the last part we tackle since we'll have to get some scaffolding in here. We hope to have at least the main living area done by the end of the weekend so we can get the current furniture back in place until the new pieces arrive. Wanna come help?

CC Weekly Creativity Challenge: Wool

The girls and I had a fun little art day Monday creating pieces for the Creative Construction weekly creativity challenge and I just hopped over to CC and saw that we won the contest this week! The girls will be thrilled! The challenge prompt for this week was “wool”. Hop on over to CC to see the details behind what we did and the other entries submitted this week. Below are our pieces: mine, then Livvie's, and then Sarah's.

To Google and Beyond!?

I got a call about a week and a half ago from an internet marketing company. It was Friday afternoon, nearing dinner time so the girls were following me everywhere as I tried to take the call, but I held on and listened. This isn’t the first time this has happened. I’ve been contacted by internet marketing companies in the past telling me they came across my website and thought they’d be able to help me market the site better, and therefore hopefully, bring in more business. This has never interested me much because, between my arts festivals and my random website and Etsy store sales, I honestly have about as much business I can manage while also holding down a full-time career, raising twin five-year-olds and playing around with other art mediums. I think I’ve held off on any real marketing because I was afraid of what it might bring; sure, more steady sales would be a nice bonus, but more sales might also mean I might have a hard time keeping up! I suppose that is not a bad problem to have…to a point. But still, I listened.

This guy had done his research. He knew my website well and seemed genuinely impressed with my work, the layout, the photography and the navigation. Overall, he truly liked the site. He said he found me on the 24th page of a Google search for “artisan jewelry” while doing some research for another client. And yep, he was right; very few, if any, people are going to find me on the 24th page of a Google search. One of my goals for my jewelry business this year was to investigate more internet marketing opportunities, and maybe he just caught me at a good time. He offered me the search phrase “lampwork jewelry” at what I thought was a pretty reasonable rate. I wasn’t sure exactly what that meant, so he gave me some examples of other clients he represented and the search phrases for them, and I checked them out while I was on the phone with him (the benefit of having broadband internet service!). After talking to him for about 30 minutes and pulling up his business online while I was talking to him to make sure he was truly legit, I finally bit the hook. So, now what, you ask? Well, enter “lampwork jewelry” into your Google search bar and see what you get. It only works for Google, but Google is pretty darn popular, don’t you think? Only time will tell if it’s worth it or not, but it’s month to month and I can cancel at anytime so I figured I’d give it a few months and see what happens! Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day are just around the corner. :-)

400 and Counting...

I’ve been stalling on this post, haven’t I? You see, this is my 400th post, and I feel like I should have something profound to say, yet I can’t think of anything too profound! I’ve written about my jewelry and art creations, great art finds I’ve stumbled across, wonderful artisans I’ve met through Etsy, moments that grab me, crazy things my children do and say, photos I’ve taken (this was our sunset last night…sometimes even Photoshop can’t improve on Mother Nature) and life in general, and I’ve finally started a category over there in the right column called “My Favorite Posts” to point you to my all-time favorites, whether they be particularly moving or particularly funny. I’ve been thinking about this whole blogging experience, and though maybe not profound, the word that keeps coming to mind is “connections”. Sure, internet connections in the true techy sense is obvious, huh, and there are certainly times I get really cranky with Comcast because those connections are acting up: “What do you mean you CAN’T FIND A CONNECTION?! I HAVE to have a connection! I have something profound to say and it’s going to slip out of my brain if I can blog it immediately!”, yet talking to my computer never seems to help. :-) I’m talking more about the connections I’ve made with other bloggers and blog readers since writing this little blog of mine. That’s been a bit astounding at times. I have that little counter down near the bottom of my right column, and it has logged more than 20,000 visits to this little blog! Of course, that could be the same 10 of you coming back several times a day, but I hope not. My Statcounter account tells me I’ve had regular visitors from all over the world! That’s the coolest thing about the internet and about blogging in general. It’s truly a community of connections. I’ve made friends through blogging I didn’t know before this little blog, and through their blogs, I’ve come to know them as I hope they’ve come to know me. And through participating in group blogs like Creative Construction and internet groups like my FatBook gang, North Florida Craft Revolution group and others, I’ve gained a cohort of friends who I can learn from and gain encouragement from and hope I’m able to offer them something in return. So thank you, dear blog friends and readers. I appreciate you stopping in. Hope you’ll continue to stay a while and share your thoughts with me every now and then.

Sunday Evening Shopping Spree: Fannie Narte

I was blog hopping the other night and came across Fannie Narte. Can’t remember whose blog led me to her, but thank you! Her art is whimsical, fun and inspirational all wrapped up in one. Her Etsy store is full of little lovelies like this one, and her website features galleries of all her designs. The variety in her work is incredible, including everything from ATCs and ACEOs to fabric postcards to art quilts to mixed media like the piece featured here. She also does some beautiful journals, one of which may be on its way to my house soon! Her Artist Statement on her website spoke to me as well: “Imagine a shy and homely girl, who did not have opinions of her own, whose perceptions and values were borrowed from a community of international cultures, and who saw colors in a rainbow and in flowers—not in one’s skin. Imagine a young woman who discovered her name had a meaning, and the world defined her by her culture—not by her character. Imagine a young mother who wanted to create an environment that was safe, where ideas are allowed, where culture is nourished, where service is encouraged, and where love is the music of the home. Imagine an artist, who interprets her life’s experiences by creating works of art which invite one to ponder the ideas of diversity, unity, labels, acceptance, generosity, understanding, music and love. If you can imagine . . . then, perhaps, you may discover my definition of ‘Home.’” Lovely, don’t you agree? Visit Fannie’s Etsy store here, here website here, and her blog here. You’ll be inspired!

Too Much Quiet...

I never thought I’d say such a thing, but there really has been too much quiet around the house today! The girls are spending the night with the Queen Mermaid (our neighbor across the street) and were sitting on the front porch with their backpacks ready to go by 11:30am. Yes, they LOVE spending the night with the Queen Mermaid. Since DH and I were ready to get started tackling the next painting job, we let them head over early. While waiting to tackle my part (I get all the detail and trim work), I’ve been updating the website while DH rolls the walls and he’s had his iPod blaring in his brain all day. So the day’s gone kinda like this…. Me: “I think I have a plan to do more internet marketing.” DH: silence. Me: “Hey, I just realized who the Daisey who sent me a friend invite on Facebook is!” DH: silence. Me: “Hey, the circus is coming to town next week. I think I’m going to quit my job and join them. I’d do a fine job on the trapeze, don’t you think? Oooh no, maybe I could be the lion trainer!” DH: silence…then a little off key singing along to Ramblin’ Man. It was a losing battle. I guess I need an iPod. Oh well, we did get some painting done…LOVE the color but still have lots to do…and I got quite a few new bracelets loaded onto my website. Go take a peek. More updates coming early next week!

Finding the Time for Balance

So I’ve been thinking more about this whole New Year’s Resolution thing, and I’ve come down to one thing: balance. That’s my word for the year. I must find balance. I must find a way to balance time with my family, with time to expand my creative endeavors, with time to work, with time to exercise, with time to eat right, with time to somewhere in there find and keep my sanity (and as DH just reminded me, time to finish repainting every room in the house). Though if we won the lottery, I could get rid of the “time to work” need and then have more time for the others! There’s a thought, however fleeting, since I rarely have time to even remember to buy a lottery ticket.

This picture truly nails my issue when it comes to the creative endeavors part of the challenge. My two favorite art magazines are Cloth Paper Scissors and Somerset Studio. When I first stumbled across Cloth Paper Scissors, I loved it so much I had to go online and order all the back issues. I’ve been methodically reading through them at night before I go to bed (unless I’m too absorbed in whatever book I happen to be reading…which is another thing I must squeeze in time for). See all those little sticky notes peeking out of all these Cloth Paper Scissors issues? Well those are all the projects I’d like to play around with. And this is just in CPS. I have a similar stack for Somerset Studio. I haven’t really shared much of my mixed-media playing around here on my blog, but I’ll start doing that more this year, too. Sharing. And while I’m at it, I’ll also be sharing more photographs as I already mentioned here. Karen commented that a great resolution would be to capture at least one beautiful photo a day. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to find time for that? And that involves remembering to find the time to always keep a camera with me, perhaps attached to my hip, with a hot pink cord for a dash of color.

So there you have it. In a recent comment on Cathy’s “Promises, Promises” post over on Creative Construction, Kathryn said she calls them “Dreams, Hopes, Wishes, and Aspirations”. I like that much better than resolutions, don’t you? So my official Dream, Hope, Wish and Aspiration for 2009 is to find balance (and find time to call my sister once a week). Care to join me?

CC Weekly Creativity Challenge: Stars

It's been a few weeks since I've participated in the Creative Construction Weekly Creatively Challenge, but this week's prompt--stars--sparked an old but still very sweet memory. Visit CC here to see all this week's entries.

A Memory
They lay on the dock
under a blanket of wool
with a blanket of stars above.
Holding on to the feeling,
legs and fingers interlaced,
like lilies floating on the water below.
Hearts beating loudly,
breath held anxiously,
in tune with the rhythm of the night.
Pure longing emerging,
Two souls tightly connecting,
A moment witnessed by the heavens alone.
Star-crossed loves whose time never aligned,
they experienced a love still blessed.
The gift is the memory…
it’s still etched in the sky,
and in my heart, as I hold my breath.

While the Paint Dries...

I’ve yet to make it down to my workshop to clean up and get started on those new projects for 2009, but, hey, I have accomplished something! We finished painting the master suite! I think that “colors may appear differently depending on your monitor” warning may apply here, but here’s a look.

This picture shows both the before and after colors. We went from an aqua green to a grass green, which is not quite as dark as it appears here. Yes, we like color; that should come as no surprise to you.

One of mama’s little helpers. The other had given up and was napping when this picture was taken.

The finished room, less hanging art back up.

Okay, so now you see my weakness. Number one, this closet was an absolute pain in the butt to paint, given that we had to take everything out first. Let me just say that you don’t realize how much stuff you have crammed in your closet until you have to take it all out. And number two, yes, I am a shoe fiend. And yes, DH only has one small little corner of the closet. And no, the closet is never this clean.

So what do you do with the leftover paint? Why, let the girls paint their own house, of course! And no, we never have grass in our backyard because we have fiddler crabs. Yes, my friends, fiddler crabs. The DEP would not let us fill and plant grass because we have fiddler crabs… Seriously. Now it’s on to painting the great room!

Raspberries and Cream and Walls Painted Green

Treasury 1-1-09

I’ve been battling yet again the nasty cold that will not die since the beginning of December, so it was nice to see this little pick-me-up treasury on Etsy. Those are my Raspberries and Cream earrings second row middle. Many thanks to opheliamiller for including me! We’ve begun the major house repainting we’ve been planning around here, so in addition to being snot-filled and sneezy, I'm fairly worn out. We’ve finished the master suite in a color officially La Fonda Grassy Knoll and are now getting ready to move on to the great room this weekend. The color we've chosen for that room is called Terra Earth; it's a pale terra cotta color, real warm and pretty. With our very high ceilings and walls, this room will be the biggest challenge! I hope to get back down to the workshop soon to photograph new pieces I haven’t posted yet and start on some new projects for the year. Wish me luck and Happy Monday to you!

Sunday Evening Shopping Spree: Sandi's Shellscapes

Since I’m such an art lover, creator and collector, I’ve been trying to instill the same qualities in my girls. They have a most awesome art bench downstairs adjacent to my workshop and we spend a lot of time down there creating various projects. And I have a laptop in my workshop…that means we sometimes also spend time surfing Etsy for fun finds. I’ll let the girls select what they want to search for and we go from there. This time (as it often is) it was mermaids! And what a find we found! See more of her here. This lovely lady was created by Sandi Johnston of Sandi’s Shellscapes. And she’s just down the road from us in Daytona Beach. Visit Sandi’s Etsy store here. You can also visit her blog here. Great work Sandi!

Sweet Repeats Sweet New Giveaway!

Jodi Ohl over at Sweet Repeats is doing a giveaway a month for 2009 as well! I featured Jodi as one of my Sunday Night Shopping Spree guests a while back and she’s recently had her work published in Cloth Paper Scissors magazine (my favorite!). She had an article in the November/December issue and another one in the January/February issue. Hop on over to her blog to register for her cute little magnet giveaway here.

Free Bling Friday Version 2009!

It’s Free Bling Friday Version 2009! Congrats to Free Bling Number 57 winner, Ellie B. from Orlando, FL. Ellie is a fellow blogger and mom of twins I met here in Blogland. Visit her blog here. Now, along with the new year comes a new version of Free Bling Friday! Free Bling Friday will now be the first Friday of the month, and you’ll be seeing more than earrings. Yeah, yeah, it’s still earrings today, just because I’ve been too lazy to take any new pictures, but you’ll see some new things pop up both here, in my website, and in my Etsy store this year. So for now, take a gander at January’s entry. These have been sitting on my workbench for weeks waiting for me to photograph them. Just a simple little pair with cloisonné beads and amethyst Swarovski crystals accented with 14K gold-filled findings. To be eligible to win January’s Free Bling, simply email me or leave a comment in the comment box by midnight Thursday, February 5, with the subject line FREE BLING and include where you're from. The next winner will be drawn Friday, February 6. 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. Click here for the Happy Shack Designs website.

To Resolute or Not to Resolute?

That is the question! Happy New Year to you and yours! I’m usually not one to make a list of New Year’s resolutions that I’ll probably never carry out anyway. Sure I could say that I’m going to lose weight, get back in shape, and eat more vegetables, and I probably will, but are those really resolutions or just good things to do no matter what? I say the latter. While we may not all need to lose a few pounds, we can all benefit by staying in shape and eating our veggies, right?!

So what would I like to do this year? Here are examples of two. First, I’ll be taking lots more pictures, thanks to the new telephoto lens and tripod I found under the Christmas tree. I took this cloud picture Christmas afternoon. We are blessed with gorgeous sunsets here at the Happy Shack, so there may be more cloud pictures in your future. Second, I’d really like to take more naps. Ones like this one. Doesn’t this look like the most restful sleep possible? Snuggled up to a dear pal, catching a few rays from Mr. Sunshine… We’ve all been battling the same nasty cold again so we’ve all been taking lots of naps. I highly recommend them, especially in a sunny spot, like maybe a back porch swing.

So are you a New Year’s resolution kind of person? Any resolutions you want to share? Tell me your best ones…