Behind the Camera: 5th Avenue Skyline Series

My students, Walter, Katie and I had a great trip to NYC. Our presentations went very well, we attended some great ed sessions and even managed to squeeze in a couple shows, HAIR and Rock of Ages. Both were awesome, though I would not recommend HAIR for kids. That show needs a NC-17 rating! Rock of Ages was great for the whole family though.

I was able to take quite a few pictures while we were there, and this is one of my favorite architectural shots. Trying to piece together a whole “looking up” series. What do you think? You can see all my pictures from the trip here.

I’m getting ready for the big birthday party tomorrow. Twelve kids, one alien pod pool, one giant water slide, three dozen hot dogs, and a 50% chance of rain.... Just went to Michael's for a rainy day art project back up. Pray for sunny skies! And then there's that slumber party I agreed to. What was I thinking? Wish me luck!

Fresh Faces and Birthday Places

So here we are…six years ago today I brought my girls into this world. I told you about their grand arrival on this earth here. I read about a self-portrait challenge on Cristi’s blog who read about it on Crystal’s blog who read about it on Tara’s blog (don’t you love the connectedness blogging brings?), and I thought that the girls’ birthday would be the ideal day to show my fresh face and include my girls. I'm not one for serious pictures (as obviously seen here), so we broke out the grins.

Having girls, I’m acutely aware of the pressure society often puts on us to look beautiful, with beauty products and quick fixes being major money makers. We all need to cherish our beauty, both inner and outer, and learn to feel comfortable in our own skin. What better example to set for our children?

So here I am in all my no make-up, no hair dryer glory. I don’t wear much make-up to begin with, so this isn’t much of a stretch! I couldn’t do the “first thing out of bed” picture because it’s still dark when I get up, so this is fresh out of the shower this morning.

The girls are still in their pajamas with messy hair. I love the picture of the three of us, Sarah just peeking up over the bottom of the frame. We’re sitting in the window seat in their room.

I took the day off today to spend the day with the girls for their birthday. After our morning photo shoot, we went to Yes You Canvas, which I first told you about here. Then I took them to their favorite lunch spot, Chick-fil-A, and then to see the movie G Force (the talking guinea pigs really were a hoot).

After a little shopping trip to Reddi-Arts and Target to spend their birthday money from Papa and Granddad, we capped the day off with dinner and birthday cake at Chowder Ted’s. Ted’s is one of those special neighborhood places, and we feel very blessed to have Ted and the gang within walking distance from our house.

The girls’ first trip there was at six weeks old and was actually their very first trip out of the house after coming home from the NICU. They sat on the tables in their carriers and slept the whole time, and we’ve spent every birthday dinner there since, the girls birthday, DH’s birthday and my birthday.

Ted and his wife Carole have become dear friends, and the whole Ted’s gang are like extended family for us. In the picture here are the girls with Teresa, Ted and Amy.

Thank you, Lord, for this family. I am truly blessed. Happy birthday, dear sweet baby girls.

CC Weekly Creativity Challenge: Rushed

Here’s my entry for this week’s Creative Construction weekly challenge “rushed”. I took this picture in Times Square, New York City, Saturday night about 1:30am. Rushed. All those people. All those cars. All that noise. At 1:30am. Where are they all rushing to?

I go through phases where I constantly feel rushed with so much to be done that, at times, I completely lose my words. Literally. I remind myself of my grandmother going down the list of grandkids’ names until she finally stumbled on the right one. Nana had Alzheimer’s, and I’ve often read that one of the ways to stave off the disease is to keep your mind sharp. Yet sometimes, my mind is so scattered that the only thing that becomes sharpened is my sense of helplessness as I throw my hands up in the air and walk out of the room, having forgotten what I came in there for. I’m certain the constant rushing and the amount of things on my plate is the cause of that. It’s a vicious cycle, isn’t it? As a creative mother, juggling is a constant of my life. What balls are you all juggling?

A Sparkler for Rose Marie

I created this little custom piece for my friend Rose Marie recently (in between more journal pages!). Rose Marie is one of my best jewelry customers. She loves to come over and just pick through my beads, and then I put something together from what she’s picked out. This one is rose quartz and crystal. Subtle with a little sparkle!

More Art Journal Pages...

Here’s another pair of my new art journal pages. The page I shared with you Tuesday was the first in the book, so it was just a one-pager. The rest will be two-page spreads like these. I’m currently in NYC! So I may be doing some journaling while I’m here. I’ll pop in if I can! I’ll be starting Martha’s online lettering class when I get back from the Big Apple so hopefully I’ll be able to apply what I learn. :-)

Thanks to Photohale!

Sending some treasury thanks out to Susan of photohale for including me in this great orange and purple treasury. Fun, huh? My cars have made into several treasuries with this color scheme. That's Desmond Side Swept second row left. Susan has some beautiful photos in her shop!

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Off to the Big Apple!

I’m heading to the Big Apple today! 7am flight so I’m probably already there by the time you read this! Going up for the Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities Summer Leadership Institute (yeah, sometimes my job really rocks). This is an annual conference and we usually try to make it up there every other year. I’m traveling with my good friend, colleague, and fellow veteran New York City traveler Walter and my other good friend (really, I only have two), colleague and first time New York City visitor Katie, who I think is even more excited than the four students we are also bringing us. And yes, this is yet another of the gazillion vintage postcards that have magically appeared in my mailbox recently. I’ll try to check in from New York! You can read about our last visit here.

A' Journaling We Will Go...

Sarah and I started our new art journals while we were on our little getaway this past weekend. Olivia didn’t care to join us at this point…tummy ache (serves her right, the little she-devil conned me out of a chocolate milkshake Friday evening on the drive over after I later learned she had already had chocolate ice cream at summer camp earlier that afternoon). This is actually my first ever art journal page. First ever! You can click on the picture to enlarge. I’ve kept a journal on and off for years, but it’s been pretty much just writing, and for the past 15 years, has been on the computer, as my handwriting has gotten worse and worse. But I definitely had fun with this. Yes, I know there is no actual “journaling” on it yet. I’ll get to that later. Right now, I just wanted to get a whole sketch book full with pages that I could journal on later. That’ll be the kicker for me though. My journals have always been a very personal thing, a place where I can work through my own private issues, so if I use these art journals for that, you won’t be seeing any writing on them. I’ll just have to share the pages before I write on them. So how do all those art journalers do that? Sure, I share personal stuff here on my blog, but not that personal. What are your thoughts? If you create art journals—or want to—what do you share?

Home Sweet Home

Yippee! The girls and I survived the weekend at Chez Shiver (my name for the lovely home we enjoyed this weekend) without getting any art supplies on the furniture! Whoo hoo! Don’t think I wasn’t just a tad overzealous with the wipes as Sarah and I were sitting at the dining room table working on our journals. I could just see her wiping those purple fingerprints all over the dining room chair.

This family includes nine grandchildren so far, but the house certainly does not reflect that. We had a great time, but it was good to come home to the chaos that is my house, Sharpie decorated sectional and all. ;-) Those of you who are familiar with my house know that I also live on the water with a pretty nice view (minus the power lines and the tops of the cranes on Blount Island), but sometimes it just takes getting away to somewhere else to really relax, doesn’t it?

Saturday was rather wet and dreary, but we salvaged the morning by visiting the Gulf Specimen’s Marine Lab. Who knew such a cool little place was tucked away in the woods of Panacea! Luckily, Sunday was gorgeous so I captured this shot from the lower deck for you, along with a couple crazy girls enjoying their breakfast on the porch. I’ll share pictures of the journal pages we worked on later this week!

A Quick Little Getaway...

I briefly mentioned my recent vintage postcard obsession here. I'm particularly drawn to the old linen cards, and this is one of my recent finds. Isn’t it beautiful!? I was bidding on another one from this area but lost it. I’ve been trying to find cards from places I’ve either lived or visited, and though this pier has now been swallowed by mother nature, I know the area well. And it’s actually where the girlies and I are headed to this afternoon! We’re having a mom and daughters girls weekend away, giving the DH the house to himself for the weekend. Since I have four days of work travel next week, this’ll give me some good quality time with the girls and give DH a break at the same time, right? I have a good friend who owns a beach place on Alligator Point and his parents own a beautiful house on Ochlocknee Bay. I'm not one to turn down an offer for a free weekend in a beach house. :-) The two homes are within 10 minutes of each other. The beach place is rented for the weekend, but he said we were welcome to stay at his parents’ place (all art supplies will remain under lock and key so that this does not happen there). There’s a great little beach just down the road from the house, so it’ll be the perfect spot for me and the girls. I hope you have a wonderful weekend whatever your plans may call for! As for all these postcards, hopefully you will see some of them again soon! I'm finally getting around to creating some of the journals I learned to create here!

Good News!: Tim Adams and Muse's Corner

Couple of fun updates for you today! First, my Jenny’s Deluxe photo was selected as one of Tim Adam’s Etsy Top 10 this week! I talked about Tim and his helpfulness in this post. I decided against the whole Twitter thing right now but his other tips have been very helpful. Out of the gazillion things on Etsy, I was thrilled to be selected in his top 10 for the week. It’s already driven extra traffic to my Etsy store and here to my blog and it hasn’t even been posted on Tim’s blog yet, just his Twitter page and in this forum thread (page 15, I’m Number 5). Becky from Harriett’s Haven let me know I was there. She was one of the first to purchase a couple of my car photos on Etsy. Thanks, Becky!

In other news, I’m placing some of my photography in a new art/fine craft gallery opening up here in town soon called Muse’s Corner. The store is in an ideal location, and I lucked into a choice spot! Take a look at the photos of the space on their blog and near the bottom of the post you’ll see interior shots. I have the space directly over the fireplace, including the mantel. Pretty cool, huh? I’m taking my work over there this afternoon. For now, I’m just doing my photos that I’ve mounted on wood boxes, like I showed you guys here. They are easy to hang and light weight, plus I can group the smaller 6 x 6’s on the mantle. I've done them in 6 x 6, 8 x 8, 10 x 10, 8 x 10 and 11 x 14. If I do any jewelry there, it will just be my glass tile photo pendants to complement the photography. I like to keep a very close watch on my lampwork pieces. :-) The store is scheduled to open July 25, but I’ll miss the opening due to a conference I have to attend for work (darn, in NYC…can you tell I’m crushed? ;-) Once the store’s fully stocked, I’ll take a couple pictures for you! Wish me luck!

CC Weekly Creativity Challenge: Ethereal

Here's my entry of this week's Creative Construction Weekly Creativity Challenge. This week's prompt was ethereal, and I immediately thought of this photo I took early one more in St. George Island. This photo is available in my photo Etsy store here. Go take a look at all this week's entries; Cathy Coley's poem is particularly moving.

Sending Some Thanks...

Just want to send out a big thank you to dorothydomingo and curlygirlcrochet, two awesome Etsy sellers who not only recently featured me in treasuries but also used my photos as the inspiration for their treasury titles! How cool is that!? I'm honored! Dorothy, a fellow Floridian, also featured me in two more treasuries this weekend. Thanks again Dorothy! Please visit their shops!

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Working Through Creative Mama Frustrations

I know many of you are creative mamas like me. We create, in whatever form, and we try to instill that creative juice in our children. So what happens when those two worlds collide and you throw shoes?

My girls love to create art. I’m happy about that. We create art together all the time—at my art bench, at their art bench, on the side porch, on vacation—and they are developing a nice little talent. But after I checked my email this morning, I came downstairs to find that Sarah had broken one of our number one house rules, yet again: Art supplies do not come upstairs; they stay downstairs in the play room/art room/room that does not contain furniture that we actually care about and would like to keep looking presentable. Caught your interest yet? So what art supply did my darling curly red-headed child bring up stairs? Oh, only the most permanent of art supplies…that famous permanent marker we all call Sharpie. Yep, Sharpie….nice little Sharpie lines and squiggles drawn on my two-month-old, $3,000 Pottery Barn stone-colored sectional. When I made this particular furniture selection, I even talked with the sales person about which fabric would be most kid friendly and went with the canvas twill at her suggestion.

I’m trying to find the humor is this situation and am failing miserably. Sarah selected a hot pink Sharpie. There is no hot pink in the room. Perhaps if she had gone with the orange to match the orange floral rug or bring out the orange in the terra cotta walls…or the green to compliment the weathered green coffee table…or the aqua blue that shows up in my accent pillows…or heck! even black would have at least matched the piano! Nope, she chose hot pink. Now I will say this is not the first time she has demonstrated her Sharpie love. There’s been a wall and a kitchen cabinet, and most distressing up until this point, my mom’s antique needlepoint footstool, which now says “I like Ike”. I don’t know who Ike is unless Sarah’s been channeling Dwight D. Eisenhower in her sleep.

So back to the throwing shoes part of the program. Yep, I threw shoes…I slammed doors…I even uttered a few choice expletives. I don’t do that often—lose my temper—but I did this morning, and I’m sure it wasn’t pretty. Granted there are worse things in life to deal with. No one here is battling cancer or suffering from a heart attack. It’s just a couch (though I will repeat it is a brand new $3,000 couch that I haven’t even finishing paying for yet since I took advantage of that one-year no-interest financing offer). So what do you do when this happens at your house? We’re having a garage sale tomorrow. In it, I had hoped to sell our ten-year-old couch that was replaced by our now Sharpie-decorated sectional; Sarah took the scissors to that couch. Maybe I just need to put it back upstairs.

What is a Meme Anyway?

Recently I’ve had a few fellow blogger friends and Etsy artists write meme’s and include me or send me "One Lovely Blog" awards. The One Lovely Blog award is easily understood, right? Thanks ladies! But what exactly is a “meme”, you ask? I asked the same question! So I found this to explain it. Clear as mud? Anywho, it’s a basically a sweet little way for someone to share your blog with others. As part of the sharing you’re asked to share seven unknown things about yourself and then share the love with seven other bloggers. So, in interest of fairplay, many thanks to Cristi, Dawn, Jana, and Roia for sending me a little blog love. And as for seven unknown things about me (that weren’t already mentioned here)…..hmmm…

1. I often develop little obsessions. Lately I’ve gone through a button obsession, and now I’m on a vintage postcard obsession. The one pictured here really caught my attention because…

2. I visited Spook Hill as a child! I remember it so clearly! It was so incredibly cool, particularly to a six year old! This postcard gives one story. This link gives another “official” story. Now, I will say the postcard is older than the “official” story, so I wonder if political correctness came into play here. Hmm…

3. My great Aunt Livy and I are the only lefties in our family. She’ll be 88 in August. She’s fabulous.

4. I have a great weakness for Barnaby’s pizza in Tallahassee. I MUST go there every time I visit Tallahassee. Sometimes I’ve been known to come up with an excuse to go to Tallahassee JUST to go to Barnaby’s.

5. I also have a great weakness for Burger King. I usually try to stay away from roads on which I know the King resides (surprisingly, I’m not overweight!). Something about those flame-broiled burgers…

6. I graduated from high school with two of my DH’s cousins. My sister graduated from high school with one of my DH’s cousins. We discovered this during a Christmas family gathering early on in our relationship. Kim and I grew up in Orange Park. My DH grew up on the northside of Jacksonville, far away from Orange Park. Strange coincidence, huh?

7. I now work on the same campus from which I graduated from college with my associates degree. My DH helped build the very same campus (yeah, we have a lot of those strange coincidences).

So there you have it! Now go take a peek at some of my bloggity favorites…Marisa, Karen, Andi, Fannie, Cathy, Terri and Nina.

Follies and Other Photographing Adventures

I’m slowly but surely catching up on my website and Etsy listings. Just to give you a little inside scoop…for me the actual creation of a piece is the easy part! The tough part comes with photographing the piece, as jewelry is one of the most difficult art forms to photograph well. This latest batch I’ve photographed outside instead of in a light tent. Best time of day seems to be late afternoon with the afternoon sun coming in at an angle to my little shady spot under my side deck. Of course, the stars must be in perfect alignment since the weather Gods must present the perfect day on which I’m able to get home on time, the children must be otherwise entertained, and the dog must be occupied by a very large and tasty bone. Typically I’ll take 5-10 shots of each piece and whittle them down to 3-5 for each listing, cropping for the best shots. I normally post to my Etsy shop first because from there it’s very easy to cut and paste the copy into my website. Pretty involved process, huh!? This piece is now listed in my Etsy shop and will hopefully be up on my website in the next day or two. How do you like it?

Happy 4th with Old Glory!

A very Happy Fourth of July to those of you in the States! To celebrate, I wanted to send a little thanks out to ablaze and heartsabustin for featuring my Kicking Back with Glory photo in these two beautiful Old Glory themed treasuries. Go take a peek at their shops and enjoy your day!

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July Free Bling!

It’s Free Bling Friday time! Congrats to June's Free Bling winner, Lauren A. from Overland Park, KS. Congrats, Lauren! And a little plug here for Lauren. She has the sweetest art. Visit her blog here for more details! For July, here’s another of my glass tile pendants, this one featuring my “Waiting for Flight” photo. You can find the photo itself in my photo Etsy shop here. It comes complete with silver-plated ball chain. To be eligible to win July’s Free Bling, simply email me or leave a comment in the comment box by midnight Thursday, August 6, with the subject line FREE BLING and include where you're from. The next winner will be drawn via Friday, August 7. 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.

The Purple Cottage

“Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we might oft win, by fearing to attempt.” William Shakespeare

That quote is included in a gift book sitting on my desk called “The Strangest Secret" by Earl Nightingale. Nightingale talks about the very same message shared in the book “The Secret”, but here’s the kicker: Nightingale wrote his message in 1956. I’ve had the book on my desk since my friend Ken Whitener gave it to me, but I must admit today was the first day I really took time to read it in full. Ken used the book as the background for a leadership program he’s presented for me several times. Nightingale’s basic premise and his “strangest secret”? We become what we think about.

I’ve kept the book on my desk not necessarily for the subject matter but more for a reminder of the person who gave it to me. Ken and I worked together on programs ever since I started with the college, and he became more than just a guest speaker for me; he became a dear friend, a dear friend who passed away suddenly of a heart attack just a few weeks after he gave me the book earlier this year. Ken did live his life becoming what he thought about. Whether he was presenting one of his leadership programs or his stock and trade comedy hypnotist shows, he exuded confidence and self-fulfillment and always had the same message: “YOU CAN DO IT!” I can still hear him say it.

I can’t say it all started 15 years ago, but maybe it was just further cemented 15 years ago. I started working in Student Life in January of 1994. That fall, my supervisor at the time facilitated a college-wide retreat of our area. B.J. is a creative type herself, so I knew we were off to a good start. As part of the retreat, she gave us all big sheets of paper and put a pile of markers and crayons in the center of the table. Our instructions: draw your dream. She gave no further instruction; it could be a personal dream, a work dream, whatever you wanted to share. It was really done more as a group get-to-know-you activity rather than a departmental goal activity. Took me no time at all to get started because I already knew exactly what I wanted. I drew a funky little purple cottage with the name “The Happy Shack” emblazoned across the front. I remember the exact set up of the room and exactly where I was at the table. I even remember what I was wearing and how I did my hair that day. Fifteen years ago. I was reminded of that through an email conversation I had with my Creative Construction friend Miranda this week about the stressful time I’ve been having at work the past two weeks (she’s darn good at making you focus on your dreams).

Though many people consider my house to be the proverbial “Happy Shack”, and I guess in some ways it is, it’s not the Happy Shack I envision in my dream. That Happy Shack is a funky little art gallery/studio, filled with my creations and the creations of other creative souls, like this lovely little piece I just received from the very talented Julie King. It’s a place where those creative souls come together and share their creativity, whether it’s teaching skills or swapping stories or just creating art together. Over the years it’s had a bed and breakfast attached to it at times, and my DH particularly likes that part of the dream. And it has lots of furry friends…dogs, cats, maybe even a chirpy little canary named Ladybird Lulu. But whatever manifestation it’s taken, it’s always been purple.

While the family and I were in St. George Island for our vacation, we visited the island art gallery, called the Sea Oats Gallery. Guess what was right next door to the Sea Oats gallery….a little cottage, once called the Book Nook, but now out of business. The sign on the door said, “Out of Business. Retired!” Guess what color that little cottage was. Yep, purple. It was surrounded by a bunch of stray cats, including a black and white one which was particularly friendly. Serendipity? A little reminder of a dream? The little yellow and orange flowers peeking up around the front porch certainly seemed to be saying so.

So what am I to learn from this? It has been a stressful time at work lately, and I’ve been looking at different options here and there for quite some time now. Is it time to make a change? Yep, I do agree that it’s definitely time to make a change, yet in the short run I'm hopeful that change may involve just a change in position, my first preference being a new position soon to be advertised at the college, still in Student Affairs but a little broader reaching than just Student Life. I’d love the opportunity to give it a shot because I think I’d enjoy the challenge that comes with a newly created position. Keep your fingers crossed for me. But in the long run...I keep going back to that little purple cottage, maybe with a bed and breakfast attached, and a chirpy canary named Ladybird Lulu…being circled by a friendly little black and white cat…who is great pals with a big goofy brown dog. It’s in a quaint little town that people like to visit for the sheer charm of it. It’s near the water, since along with art, water is what feeds my soul. And it’s a happy place, a happy little shack. It’ll happen. Maybe five or ten years down the road, but it’ll happen. Thanks, Ken. I CAN do it. I will become what I think about.

“Live this new way and the floodgates of abundance will open and pour over you more riches than you may have dreamed existed. Money? Yes, lots of it. But what’s more important, you’ll have peace…you’ll be in that wonderful minority who lead calm, cheerful successful lives…you have nothing to lose—but you have a whole life to win.” Earl Nightingale

I'm a Painter!

Last Friday, there was an article in the Lifestyle section of our local paper about a new painting studio called Yes You Canvas! It looked like much fun, so I decided to give it a go and signed up for this past Sunday night’s class. Oh my goodness! I had a blast! It was a much needed stress-relieving antidote to a very stressful week. The basic premise: the painting instructor guides the class through the painting process of one particular painting, starting out with some basic painting theory and brush technique. So basically we all painted the same thing, just in our own style. We could choose different colors, etc, from the demonstration painting as well. All the supplies (including the 24” x 24” canvas!) were included in the $40 class fee. Having priced canvases, I know square canvases are more expensive than rectangular so I thought the fee was very reasonable. And the owner/instructor, David Durrett, was awesome! The class was a little over two hours and there were nine of us. As David demonstrated each step, he walked around the room giving pointers and encouragement to each of us. You were welcome to bring any munchies/refreshments you wanted to bring (wine was welcomed to help you loosen up a bit) and he provided a couple little snacks as well, including a big bowl of yummy frozen yogurt from the yogurt shop next door. I definitely plan to go back again. David also does kids’ classes so I hope to take the girls soon; I think they’d love it as much as I did. So what do you think? Not bad for my first ever painting, huh?