Sketchbook Project Fun Journal: Days 6 and 7

Day 6

So as I had feared, the creating-a-journal-page-everyday plan has not been working out very well. However, not to fear! I am slowly but surely filling the book! I do a little bit here, little bit there….and I’ve completed 15 pages so far. I’ve taken the pressure off, and as trying to remember this is supposed to be fun!

Day 7

So here are pages six and seven. I teach on Tuesday nights, so that’s what the “school night” is. I actually really, really like this page. I think it might be my favorite so far. More to come! So a question for those of you that art journal. Do you do a page a day or is it more random? Do you have several journals going as once or just one? I think what’s working more for me is having a theme. As I think I’ve mentioned before, I’m not one to use a journal to record my thoughts so much, so that’s been the first block I’ve had to get past. Now I’m just trying to play around more with paint…just to do something creative that’s just for me. Though it definitely is giving me ideas of some other things I can do, so I guess it is served that purpose as well.

Missing Mom...Always

Miss you today, Mom, just like every other day. Can't believe it's been 11 years when it still seems like yesterday. It's hard, sometimes, to be a Mama when you simply can't find the right answer and your own Mama's not here to tell you what to do. But hopefully, with your gentle spirit guiding me, I'm making the right choices for my girls. They are thriving under your watchful gaze from above, and I tell them stories about you all the time. Through you, they believe in the power of God and Heaven above, and like you, they love to laugh. This is how I like to remember you. Laughing...  Seems fitting that I'm visiting Kim today, and we're together. She'll be a Mama soon, too, and will need your guidance just as I have.  Keep watching down on us, Mom. Love you always.

Christmas Morning Tradition

Merry Christmas to you!  I hope those of you that celebrate Christmas are enjoying a wonderful day of celebration.  We spent Christmas Eve here at home with DH's dad, brother, and brother's wife and kids.  Then it was Santa prep!  This morning, we continued our Christmas morning tradition. After the gifts have been opened, we load up the dogs and head to Big Talbot Island State Park. We're usually there by 9am.  It's the perfect gift for the dogs...they run and run without worry of anyone else being out there.  Big Talbot is usually pretty quiet on a normal day, but on Christmas, it's pure solitude for furry friends. 

Each year it becomes more and more of an adventure as the bluffs continue to change shape.  There used to be a wooden staircase that led down to "Boneyard Beach," but it was washed away in a storm and the state decided not to replace it.  Now the beach is accessed purely at your own risk.  With its 10-15 foot bluffs, Big Talbot is truly unlike any other beach in Florida. The park itself is at the confluence of Nassau Sound and the Atlantic Ocean and encompasses a gorgeous live oak hammock. Over the years as the bluffs have shifted, oaks have fallen to the sea, creating a beach full of massive driftwood trees, thus the name Boneyard Beach. It's really spectacular.  You can take a look at all the pictures I took this morning here.  DH and I started doing this before we were married, and short of the three years when the girls were too small to go, we've done it every year. 

And hopefully, we've creating a little more around the house now.  Sarah asked Santa for a guitar, and since Mama is a (not very accomplished) guitar player as well, she thought it was a great idea.  Olivia didn't want a guitar, so Santa brought her some percussion to play along.  Here's a little improptu performance for you, bits and pieces of Sugarland's Stuck Like Glue. 

Again, the merriest of Christmas wishes to you.  May you remember the true reason for the day.   God bless.

Hands On for Christmas

Merry Christmas Eve to you!  I helped the girls create these little art pieces for their Granddad and Papa.  There were really quite simple and came out so cute.  First, they painted their canvases.  They are 5' x 5'. We used basic Apple Barrel craft paint from Walmart.  Once that first layer dried, they stenciled the letters.  We let that dry overnight and while drying, the art talent fairy (I understand her name is Artie) outlined the letters in pencil to give them a little pop.  The girls really liked what Artie did when they saw them this morning.  :-)  Next I painted their hands with off white paint, and then they placed their hands down on the canvas.  Pretty fun, huh?  Great little last minute gift for grandparents. 

DH's father, brother and his kids are coming over tonight for a small family celebration.  I've baked Jesus a chocolate layer cake with cream cheese and orange zest frosting for his birthday, along with my favorite pumpkin cheesecake on the side.  We were going to make some oyster chowder tonight, but I've convinced DH that we should just keep it simple, so I currently have a big pot of spaghetti sauce simmering on the stove.  I may be a green-eyed Irish girl, but I make a wicked good spaghetti and lasagna, using my mama's recipe.

I hope you and yours are enjoying a very joyous holiday, whatever type of celebration you may be partaking in.  For us, it's the celebration of the birth of Christ.  Merry Christmas to you.    

Tuesday Treasury Shout Out: Lilac Ave and Team NFCR

happyshackdesigns,kellywarrenphotoart,etsy treasury

Thanks to Deb from LilacAve for creating this treasury featuring our North Florida Craft Revolution team members. This is a great group that's finally getting active again. Included here are my Jillie photo (top row, second spot) and my Jester earrings (second row, second spot). View the entire treasury with clickable links to all items featured here. Thanks again Deb!

Happy Christmas to You: Remembering Why

I found this flyer going through some old pictures. I remember this reunion so clearly! My mom and dad had just recently divorced, so I was 12 or 13. Mom, Kim and I drove down from Orange Park with Nana and Granddaddy. And it did last pretty much all day! I have very little of my Mom’s family left so this was a nice treasure to find. My dad lost touch with most of his family so I don’t know any of them other than his step-mother and half sister, but my mom’s family was all very close, all bonded together by the Burnette sisters, which included my Aunt Margaret (Eula Margaret), my Aunt Livy (Bertha Olivia, the only one still living and my favorite person in the whole world), my Aunt Marie (Ruby Marie), and my Nana (Hazel Maxine). They had a brother as well, my Uncle Oscar (Russell Oscar), who died when I was a child.

I’d been wanting to ask Aunt Livy to write down some family history for me when we went up to see her this year for her birthday (89 this past August). The only reason I didn’t at that point was because the annual visit that usually included just me and the girls grew to include my DH, my sister and her husband, and my dad. When Aunt Livy learned they all were coming, she said, “Ya’ll think I’m gonna die or something!?!” So I decided that probably wasn’t a good time to ask her to write down family history! But about two months later, I received just that: a letter from her including all the history she could remember. Through that letter, I learned that my girls are seventh generation native Floridians. I knew we went pretty far back but I didn’t realize it was that far. Aunt Livy’s Grandfather Burnette (as well as her father, whom I called Banddaddy) were born in Madison, Florida, which is about two hours due east of Jacksonville on I-10. Its claim to fame now is the area in which you need to slow down. Madison County Sherriff’s officers love to write tickets (and yes, I got one there).

Aunt Livy’s mother’s father (my great-great grandfather if I’ve done the math right) was born in south Georgia, orphaned as a baby and grew up in an orphanage. When he was old enough to work, about 10 or 12, he was farmed out to a family who raised him until he married. He took their name, Sauls. Aunt Livy remembers that his birth name was Scotch-Irish but she can’t remember anything past the “Mc.” That explains the redheads in our family. Our Burnette ancestory is Irish, and since “Mc” became Sauls, there’s more there. I hope to trace back to find the real name.

I called my great-grandmother Bunny. Banddaddy was a landscape gardener, and he and Bunny raised their family living in the middle of nurseries. Aunt Livy said she remembers having a wonderful childhood running around the nurseries. After Aunt Margaret and Aunt Livy were born (Madison), they moved a little farther south and settled just north of the Tampa area in a little town called Elfers. Elfers was halfway between New Port Richey and Tarpon Springs. My Aunt Marie was born in New Port Richey, my Nana in Tarpon Springs, and my Uncle Oscar over in Lakeland.

By the time I was old enough to remember Bunny and Banddaddy, they had moved to Tampa proper. I still recognize the neighborhood they lived in every time I go down there because it was near a large white bell tower that is still there today, visible from I-275 South. That tower used to be in the middle of a nursery, before the nursery gave way to homes; the tower itself now sits in a park. What I remember most about Banddaddy was his size. He was a tall, burly man, probably about 6’4” or 6’5”. And Bunny was a tiny little thing. They both died in the summer on 1975, Banddaddy of a heart attack, and Bunny, three weeks later, of a broken heart. Aunt Livy wrote that “broken heart-no will to live” was actually on Bunny’s death certificate. The doctor could find no other cause of death. They had been married 63 years and were both 83 when they died.

So back to that reunion….as long as all the sisters were alive, the Burnette/Sauls clan spent a lot of time together. Thanksgivings were always spent in Lakeland at my Aunt Margaret’s house. Aunt Margaret’s grandkids, Stacy and Billy, were two of the cousins I was closest to growing up. We lost Billy shortly before Nana died, but Stacy and I still keep in touch. She now lives in Park City, Utah. I’m also still close to Aunt Livy’s kids, Ray and Darlene, particularly Ray and his wife Susan. Ray was very close to my mom and lived with us when I was a kid so he loves to tell DH funny stories about me as a child (apparently my clumsiness started early).  Christmas Eve was always at Nana's house, and we always had big bowls of Nana's Oyster Stew.  To this day, no one can make it taste like Nana did.  Mom tried several times before she died, DH has tried a few times, but there must have been some special ingredient that Nana didn't share when she shared the "recipe."  Now, DH makes us Oyster Chowder on Christmas Eve as a close substitute.

Our Olivia is named after Aunt Livy. Sarah is named after DH’s grandmother Sarah. My sister Kim is currently seven months pregnant with a baby girl who will carry our Nana’s name, Maxine. I’ve been wanting to share this story for a while and when I found the reunion flyer last week, it was a reminder of the importance of family, which seems an apt reminder this time of year. Since both my mom and DH’s mom are gone and never knew their grandchildren, teaching our girls about their past has been very important to me. We talk about Mom and DH’s mom often, about what they must be doing up there in Heaven, and sometimes the girls insight and imagination truly amazes me. As I write this, I’m wearing Mom’s robe, one of the few pieces of her clothing I kept; Livvie brought it to me since she and Sarah are wearing their robes this morning too.

So as you go into this last week before Christmas, remember that it’s not about the presents, something sometimes hard to do with children around. It’s about family, your family, God’s family, and the birth of Christ. So I’ll leave you today with a little picture of our family, taken at DH’s family Christmas party Saturday night, along with some words of wisdom from Dr. Suess. Happy Christmas week to you and yours.

“Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small, was singing!

Without any presents at all! He HADN’T stopped Christmas from coming!

IT CAME! Somehow or other, it came just the same”…

"Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before.

What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store.

What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more."

Update 3/10/11!  Aunt Livy found the "Mc" she couldn't remember.  My great-great grandfather's real last name was McAllister.  How's that for some Irish blood?

Sketchbook Project Fun Journal: Days 4 and 5

Day 4

So that you know I haven’t been totally slacking…I am funning, I just haven’t been posting! This project has been a very challenging one for me, both time wise and creativity wise. I think I’m just a bit of a perfectionist, so the time I want to spend on each page has been the biggest challenge. I still have a few days of catching up to do, but I’m getting there. Friday is my last day in the office until January 3, so I should be able to really get the ball rolling then! Here are days four and five.

Day 4 wraps up my day trip over to Tallahassee to deliver a dog to a new home. Bugsy is a gorgeous yellow lab whose owners, who live across the street from my pa-in-law, could no longer care for him, so now he’s happily romping around the woods near Tallahassee with a friend who lives on about 200 acres.

Day 5

Day 5 stands in for the fun visit the girlies and my friend Katie and I had going to see the Radio City Rockettes Christmas Spectacular. It definitely was WOW! We took a cute picture of the four of us, but it’s now unfortunately trapped on a memory card that refuses to cooperate.  Darn technology really gives me a headache at times!  :-)

Tuesday Treasury Shoutout: The Blue Windmill and Etsy for Animals

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Today's treasury is courtesy of Heather at thebluewindmill.  Thanks so much for including me, Heather!  Don't you just love all these wonderful farm animals!  Heather curated this treasury in support of the Etsy for Animals team.  My "Family Reunion" is third row, first spot. View the full treasury with clickable links here and check out the EFA blog here

Heather and I found we have a lot in common.  We are both mommies of twin girls!  When I visited Heather's shop, I couldn't resist the cute little original ACEO below.  That brings my collection to, oh, more than 300 or so. It's truly a sickness I have. :-)

A Glimpse of the Neighboorhood

I need to get better about keeping one of my “big girl” cameras in the car with me. I’ve been waiting for just the right day and time to capture a pretty shot of Brown’s Creek, and as I was coming back across the bridge from Walgreen’s yesterday afternoon, boom, there is was. Of course, I didn’t have my camera with me. So I pulled in the driveway, tossed the lights to DH and the girls who were waiting patiently for them on the porch (Christmas decorating, ya know), and then ran inside to grab my camera and run back down to the bridge. I could have literally run, mind you, since this is just 50 yards from my house, but it was too darn cold! (I am a true native Floridian, lived-here-all-my-life cold wimp.)

Anywho, got back down there just in time to catch this. Rather lovely, don’t you think? The little spots of light you see at the bottom of the marsh is the sun shining through the bridge railing. Just to the left of this frame is our neighborhood seafood dive, Chowder Ted’s, which I’ve mentioned here before. This scene makes for an extra nice “aahhh…” on my way home. Best Shot Monday for you today...

Tuesday Treasury Shoutout: Oh Baby Dot Com and FEST

Here's another great ETSY treasury featuring Florida Etsy Street Team members.  That's my Green With Envy lampwork bracelet third row second spot.  A big shoutout thank you to Ohbabydotcom for including me!  View the treasury with clickable links here, and go take a look at all the FEST members on the FEST blog.  Buy handmade for Christmas! 

Sketchbook Project Fun Journal: Day 3

Day 3

Here’s Day 3 in my Sketchbook Project Fun Journal. I’ve always loved this quote.  And now, reality of my life is that by Day 4, I was already behind!  Oh well, I’ve started on Days 4 and 5 and hope to finish them and Day 6 tonight while I watch the ACM awards to be back on track (love me some Trace Adkins, who’s hosting tonight).  I’m really trying to do the daily thing or at least close to it, so since the weekend was super crazy, I’ll just have to catch up.  I guess I’ll keep you in suspense as to why the weekend was so crazy since that’s what I’m doing my Day 4 and 5 pages about.  :-)  

December Free Bling

Time for Free Bling Friday! picked comment number 46 as the winner of November's Free Bling, so congratulations to Veronica from Raleigh, North Carolina!

For December, here's another of my glass tile pendants, this one featuring my "Breathe" photo, found here in my Etsy shop. This is one of my most popular pendants.  It comes with a silver plated ball chain cut to the length of your choice. To be eligible to win, simply visit either of my Etsy shops (here for jewelry and here for photography) and leave a comment in the comment box below with the link to your favorite piece along with a way to reach you and where you’re from by midnight Thursday, January 6, 2011. Want more entries? Tweet, blog or Facebook this giveaway and leave another comment with the link. The next winner will be drawn via Friday, January 7, 2011. Don't want to miss a single Free Bling Friday? Click here to sign up for free weekly email updates or subscribe in the reader of your choice over there in the right column. And be sure to join my Facebook Fan page for Fan specials. Thanks for stopping in!

Sketchbook Project Fun Journal: Day 2

Day 2

I'm learning things here.  First, the pages in a Moleskin are very thin.  Second, gesso dries pretty darn fast and doesn't seem to thicken up the pages any, but it does make the ink slide on a bit easier! Third, this is reminding me how much I hate my handwriting. Oh, to have pretty, swirly penmanship...  Fourth, I sure can't get much done in the morning before work.  For this one, I got the pages gessoed and inked in the morning and then finished the rest after DH and the girls went to bed last night. 

When I got home from work yesterday, the girls had made me two more birthday cards and wrapped up another present in wrapping paper they made.  It was a lovely rock they found in the back yard. :-)  They actually made me open my initial gift on Sunday, so I could use it Sunday night. It was a restock of my favorite bubble bath; they knew I was completely out and had been using theirs. :-)  DH helped them make brownies when they got home from school yesterday, which was the lovely smell I came home to, so after dinner at Ted's (best restaurant in the whole wide world in our opinion, partially 'cause we can walk there...), we had brownies topped with chocolate ice cream. Nice quiet birthday with family.

Sketchbook Project Fun Journal: Day 1

Day 1

Inspired by my friend Leah, I am attempting to dedicate myself to my Sketchbook Project journal for the month of December.  Rather crazy to attempt this in December, I realize, but what the heck.  I'm nothing if not crazy.  In that, I’m attempting to do a quick spread every day this month. Notice, I say attempting.  Just throwing that out there.  My theme is "Whatever it is, it'll be fun," so I'm planning to have a quote that includes fun or play on each page (got any good ones? send them to me!).

Yesterday, I got up a little early and gessoed the first page spread…then went upstairs and took a shower...then came back downstairs and inked the spread…then went back upstairs and made the girls and myself breakfast...then went back downstairs and punched the circles…then went back upstairs to do the makeup, hair, get dressed thing…then went back downstairs and put all the circles, the book, some paint pens and a glue stick in a zip lock bag and put it in my purse with the idea of attempting to finish it during a break at work. Well, that didn’t happen…but at least I did finally finish it while the girls were in the tub last night. So here you go! Dec 1 page!

Today is my birthday. My last two years' birthday posts were much more inspiring so I’ll send you there and there to take a peek. Today, honestly, other than my students bringing me lunch and cake and one very sweet phone call this morning, has been a rather crappy day at the office (as have the last two months, but I digress). But the workday is over so I get to spend the rest of the day with the family…it should get much better!

Thanksgiving…Here’s the Thing

I received a package in the mail today from my sweet friend Davielle Huffman, whom I met at Artful Journey back in February. I adore you, Davi! In the package was Patti Digh’s new book Creative is a Verb. It’s illustrated with original art from around the world, all submitted by Patti’s readers. Davi had shared on her Facebook page a while back that some of her art was included in the book, and I jokingly told her I wanted an autographed copy. Little did I know that she would do just that! Signed by both Patti and Davi! I must not have remembered Davi’s Facebook post because when I opened the book to the page she had marked, there was her art, a lovely mixed-media piece of a red truck pulling an Airstream trailer down a country road. Patti’s essay included with the piece is called “Drive an Airstream Trailer” and begins with “I don’t long for much. But I long for an Airstream.”

So here’s the thing. For the past year or so, DH and I have been talking about buying a used travel trailer and something to pull it with. Sure our old Isuzu Trooper would pull it, but DH is concerned about the “stopping part.” :-) Since we’ve started talking about this, I’ve been telling DH that I’ve always wanted an old Airstream trailer. Seriously!! I think those funky cool silver tubes just fit my goofy personality. And I don’t want just any average old Airstream. I’d trick that girl out. I’d paint gardens of big, funky flowers on the sides, and I’d recover all the interior cushions with fun, funky retro fabric. Can you see it? (Gypsy, you will be enlisted to help me.)

I showed the book, Davi’s art, and Patti’s accompanying essay to DH when he got home this afternoon and said, “See!!! We are meant to have an Airstream!!!” He couldn’t doubt the synchronicity of it all (ooh…big word…), and we’ve been on the computer all afternoon searching Airstreams and trucks. We found a few potential Airstreams on Craigslist and got a good feel for what a decent used heavy duty truck would cost us. Given some potential life changes that may be coming soon, we aren’t immediately jumping, but the hunt has certainly begun, and we are looking at how to make it happen.

So on this Thanksgiving eve, what am I thankful for? In addition to my DH who tolerates all my crazy schemes like flower-painted Airstreams, my two little redheads who bring me more joy than I ever thought imaginable, and my scattered and small but equally special family, I’m thankful for sweet new friends like Davi. I am blessed with a wonderful circle of close friends that I’ve known for years and years….friends I’ve had since middle school, high school, and college, and though I may not see them every day, I know that I can pick up the phone and, boom, here they’ll be. And now, through this amazing blogging world, I’ve met so many wonderful new friends. Some, like fellow writers/artists/moms Cathy, Miranda, Robin, e. beck, Aimee and Brittany (my Studio Mothers crew!), feel like sisters, even though I’ve only met one of them in person. Others, like fellow artists Davi, Chrissy, Wyanne, Leah, Roben-Marie, Gwynnie, and Martha, I’ve been blessed to spend time with and feel like I’ve found my kindred spirits; Martha and Wyanne are even right here in North Florida. And there are more I’ve found here in North Florida and South Georgia that I look forward to meeting someday soon (Lori, when are we going to meet for lunch!?!?). And there are so many more of you out there that I'd love to meet in person one day.

I think we grow exponentially by the people that cross our paths. Old friends are the salt of the earth; they knew us then, and they know us now, and the person we were then may be very different from the person we are now, yet the true old friends still love us just the same. I know I’m not the same person I was 20 years ago; heck, I’m not even the same person I was five years ago! New friends enrich our lives by bringing new perspectives, new encouragements, and new bonds that, though maybe spread all over the world, feel like a warm blanket when you need one. So tonight, I’m thankful for all of you out there who take the time to stop by here and visit me. I’m blessed to know you, and through your words and your art and your friendships, I’ve gained immeasurably.

A Little Bird Told Me

Cute little owl, huh? She’s coming to roost with me from a lovely artist named Michele who lives in New Zealand. I found her through the Brave Girls Club. Ever get one of those “knock you up the side of the head” moments? Those moments where you hear exactly what you need to hear right at the exact moment you need to hear it? Whether you knew you needed to hear it or not and completely out of the blue? I had one of those moments yesterday. Every day I receive the daily “a little bird told me…your daily truth from the brave girls club” email. They are always full of wonderful inspiration. But the one I received yesterday could not have been more dead-on in reflecting what I am currently experiencing in my life.

“Dear Important Girl,

We often don't realize it...but sometimes we find ourselves giving all of our best energy to the very things that we don't want. We do this in lots of obsessing about things because we wish we could overcome not forgiving things that have hurt continuing to do things that we know are not right for us because of guilt or shame or expectations....or even fear. Sometimes we have just done the same thing for so long, that it has become a habit, and even though we don't want to give any more of our time or our life to it, we just keep doing it anyway. Sometimes we feel trapped, like there is not a better way, like our choices are gone. We always, always, always have the ability to choose.

There are lots of reasons that we waste minutes and hours of our precious day doing things that STEAL OUR TIME FROM THE THINGS THAT WE WANT THE MOST...from the places where we are truly needed...the places where we will find the most happiness...the places where we belong.

And that is how we must view it, sweet friend.....each minute we spend lending ourselves, our time or talents or energy or thoughts to something that we really want nothing to do with is time that is stolen from the things that really do matter to us. Each minute spent with the parts of our life that we want to be free from is a minute that we are not at peace....a minute that is spent feeling miserable instead of joyful.

Please evaluate your time, lovely. Evaluate where you are giving your very best self. Evaluate what it will take to get back on track. It is worth the work, it is worth the scary steps that it may take to get there. You gotta be in charge of one can do this for you. You are so important...and you have such important things to do. You are strong, capable and it is time. xoxo”

How 'bout that?  Certainly reflects my "happiness is a choice" motto, doesn't it?  Sometimes I even have to remind myself of that.  I read this note yesterday afternoon about 2pm, which was about two hours after I had finished a long conversation with a very trusted friend. Suffice it to say it was that knock on the head, and I know where I’m going now. Sometimes change is simply very necessary. And, no worries! DH and the girls and I are fine! And now that I’ve had my knock on the head, things are going to get even better. How about you? Have you had any knocks on the head lately? Do you need one? Go sign up for the Brave Girls Club daily truth.

What Shall You Do?

This little scrap of spelling list has been floating around the house for months. I find it here and there, and for some reason, I’ve just never thrown it away. Today I was thinking about everything that I have on my plate on right now, and when I came home, I saw this on the floor in the bedroom. Shall.

Sometimes things get so crazy that we lose track of all the things we said we shall do. The kids get sick (Olivia). You get sick (me). The cat goes on the lam again (Tink). You become over-committed, oftentimes because of things you cannot control (me, work). You stay sick because you’re over-committed (me, still). You follow through on obligations you make because you committed that you shall do them (me, participating in the Halifax Arts Festival even though I was still sick). You work one very demanding full-time job, one part-time job and try to manage a creative business, for a reason (you, um, I, want the part-time job to become the full-time job so I can have more time with my family and more time for creativity). So you keep going. You keep plugging along. What shall you do to pull all this together?

Kathy, Kelly, Coleen, and me
Today, I shall try to remember that all things will fall into place where they shall, in their due time, as the Man above plans. And I shall be thankful that I got to get away for a brief 24 hours to reunite with my sorority sisters Saturday (45 of us), antibiotics and cough drops in hand (and a few beers to help battle the germs). And I shall decide that those custom orders can wait just a little while longer, and that will be okay. And I shall decide that I’ll get to my blog when I get to my blog, which obviously hasn’t been very often lately. And I shall sit on the couch and cuddle with my girls while watching Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy and then lie in the bed and snuggle with DH while watching Antiques Roadshow. And I shall try not to worry about all those things I’ve been losing track of. And I shall take a deep breath and decide that everything will be just fine. It certainly shall.  What shall you do today?

Shelley, Kim, me, and SaraBeth

Time for November Free Bling!

Time for Free Bling Friday (a day late...)! picked lucky comment number 21 as the winner of October's Free Bling, so congratulations to Karen from Smyrna, Tennessee!

For November, how about one of my glass tile pendants, this one featuring my "Waiting for Flight" photo.  It comes with a silver plated ball chain cut to the length of your choice.  To be eligible to win, simply visit either of my Etsy shops (here for jewelry and here for photography) and leave a comment in the comment box below with the link to your favorite piece along with a way to reach you and where you’re from by midnight Thursday, December 2, 2010 (my birthday!). Want more entries? Tweet, blog or Facebook this giveaway and leave another comment with the link. The next winner will be drawn via Friday, December 3, 2010. Don't want to miss a single Free Bling Friday? Click here to sign up for free weekly email updates or subscribe in the reader of your choice over there in the right column.  And be sure to join my Facebook Fan page for Fan specials. Thanks for stopping in!

Front Page Tuesday Treasury Shout Out!: ZiBagz

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An extra special thank you to ZiBagz for including me in this Etsy treasury that made the front page!  On a whim, I was just zipping through CraftCult and searched my shops and up popped this front pager.  It appeared September 29, so I'm a bit behind in sharing it (aren't I a bit behind in everything?!), but here ya go.  That's Old Hank, third row, second spot. These treasuries have gotten so big I can't get a full screen shot so be sure visit the actual treasury here for direct links to all the items included. 

I'm still far from 100% but I'm slowly on the mend.  I finally beat the alien that had taken up residence in my intestinal tract (mine lasted a full day longer than Livvie's) but I've yet to kick the sinus infection.  Still working on that one!  I will be constantly sucking on cough drops through teaching two classes tonight. Luckily I have a guest speaker in one.  And yes, I have a major arts festival this weekend..Halifax Arts Festival in Daytona Beach, so please say a little prayer for me that all these yuckies are gone by Friday. I'm treating myself to an oceanfront hotel room for the weekend!  

Coming Out of Hiding

Kelly and the girls at the Northeast Florida Fair in Callahan...Yee Haw!
Well hello there, little blog. Yes, I realize it’s been nearly three weeks since I popped in on all you wonderful friends out there in blog land. This try-to-do-it-all superwoman has had a very difficult month, so I’m breaking one of my personal blogging rules today: don’t blog when you are not in a happy place (my blog, my rules; your blog, your rules). I’m not in a happy place not because I’m not happy (and you’ll soon learn I’m also heavily medicated so I might not make total sense right now), I’m just in a sick as a dog place. September, October and November are always my busiest months at work, and they are compounded by my love of Florida State football and two-three large juried arts festivals. This Fall, I’ve actually tried to cut back some…just two shows (St Simons Oct 9-10 and Halifax Nov 6-7) and just three games, only one of which I’ve made it to so far and took the girls with me…but I’ve had more and more put on my shoulders at work, so the cutting back just didn’t seem to work. This week, I have been sicker than I can remember being in quite some time. Today is my fourth day out of work. The last time I was out of work due to illness for four days straight was when I was on maternity leave with the girls seven years ago.

Saturday, I took the girls to the fair with a friend and her daughter, and that’s where I believe Olivia and I picked up the intestinal virus from hell. We both started feeling poorly Sunday and by Sunday night were running high fevers. Suffice it say things got worse from there and we spent all day Monday and Tuesday either in bed or in the bathroom. Livvie’s started clearing up Tuesday afternoon, and she was actually able to go back to school yesterday. But mine showed no signs of letting go and I was also becoming very congested and developing a very bad cough. I finally broke down and went to the doctor yesterday; I must admit I was honestly afraid to be away from the bathroom for the 30 minutes it takes to get to my doctor’s office. He diagnosed me with a severe intestinal virus (duh!) and a severe sinus infection….two totally unrelated illnesses that just happened to attack me at the same time. He put me on an anti-viral and a Z-pack and sent me home to drink lots more fluids and go back to bed. I’ve lost seven pounds since Sunday. Luckily, so far Sarah and DH have shown no signs of either illness. Hopefully that won’t change!

Yes, I know that’s my body speaking to me…telling me that I’m overdoing it. Yet you know what? I look back at the past two months, and there’s unfortunately very little I could have done differently. (This is the same issue I have with the whole “you make time for what’s important” line of thinking I so often hear…frankly sometimes there is simply just not enough time in the day). I cut things out this Fall.  I made a conscious decision to cut out one show and chose a show close to home for October so I could sleep in my own bed; I chose not go to any September games, so I had no travel in September; and I told my guitar teacher that I’d have to forego my lessons the entire month of October, but none of that helped. It was my work schedule that put me over the top, and that, unfortunately, short of quitting my job, is out of my hands. And this week was a big one, with our biggest Fall term event plus two screenings of a national film we’d been planning for months plus a very important college-wide training for which I am one of the process leaders. And nope, the world did not come crashing down because I wasn't there (at least as far as I know…I’m not at work after all, but I haven’t gotten any “the world has come crashing down” emails from my assistant, God bless her).

My point in all this? Not sure, but I’ll give it a shot. First, to the moms out there who are in the same boat as I am, working a very demanding full-time job while also trying to raise your wonderful children and work on your creativity, whether it’s a business or a hobby, listen to your body when it starts telling you that you need a break, and take it. You deserve it, and you need it.  And while you’re at it, listen to your heart when it’s trying to tell you that maybe you need a change, and see what you can do about that too. I’ve been working on that part, but I haven’t come up with a workable option yet. It makes me sad to think that I may have to give up some of the things l love (like my art or music) because my job can be so draining.

And for the moms who live very different lives from me, who work from home or whose creativity is their work, and have time at home with your children…even when you may feel like pulling your hair out because your toddler has smeared spaghetti sauce all over your kitchen cabinets (or your couch), revel in the idea that you have the freedom to be there for that, that you are not in that 8-to-6-plus grind, that you are there for all those little moments working moms miss. It may not seem like the cat’s meow to you, but sister, I know many a working mom out here who would love to lick out of that bowl.

For me? Something’s gotta give. Not sure what that’s going to be yet, but I’ll keep working on it. Right now though, I think I’ll go drink some more Gatorade and go back to bed. Hope you are feeling well!

Today Seven, Tomorrow Fourteen

Sarah in field
DH and the girls drove up to St. Simons Sunday afternoon to play at the lighthouse a bit and then help me break down and pack up. Since my wonderful assistant Whitney is a new mom, I’ve been on my own for shows, and I have to say, it’s really a heck of a lot of work setting up and breaking down by myself, not to mention manning the booth for two days by myself, so the family coming up to help me wrap up was a very welcome sight! This show had a lot of volunteers on Saturday, so I was able to take those much needed bathroom breaks without leaving my booth unattended, but the volunteers were few and far between on Sunday. Overall though, it was a nice little show in a very nice little town, and since it was just 75 miles up the road, I was able to sleep in my own bed each night!

I took this picture of Sarah at the Chickamauga Battlefield back in August while we were up in North Georgia visiting Aunt Livy. I love the contrast of Sarah’s hair and clothing against that rolling green field. On the drive back home from St. Simons last night, Livvie road with DH while Sarah kept me company. Since my back seats were out to make room for all my festival gear, Sarah had the pleasure of sitting up front with me, a first, and she was in hog heaven. We had a very nice hour and 15 minute drive home, singing along to the radio and eating our snacks. She was wearing my sunglasses because she was too small for the sun visor to do her any good. She loves to sing, and she was showing off her seat-dancing moves all the way home, cracking me up. This will be one of those moments that sticks with me, picturing her sitting next to me, feet propped up on the dashboard, wearing my way-too-big sunglasses, singing at the top of her lungs. It’s so true: they do grow up so fast. I know I’m going to blink and tomorrow they will be teenagers.

Taking a Ride with Kellie Pickler

My dad came up this past weekend in his shiny new Corvette. He’s been itching for a new toy and had been trying to decide between a Chevy SSR and a Saturn Sky. So he got a 2002 Corvette. :-) I thought it was an excellent choice, with its Florida State Seminole garnet and gold vibe, though I’m partial to old school convertible Mustangs.

So the funny story behind this picture... Dad took the girls for a ride and had his favorite CD. He asked the girls, “Have you ever heard your Mom sing?” (So yes, I’ve recorded a CD, all covers, long story I first talked about here.) Of course, the girls did not believe it was me. Sarah said something like, “That’s not Mama. That’s Kellie Pickler, Granddad. I know Kellie Pickler when I hear her, Granddad. Livvie, tell Granddad that’s Kellie Pickler.” “Granddad, Sarah said that’s Kellie Pickler. Do you know who Kellie Pickler is?” said Livvie.

Granddad tried to convince them, but to no avail. When they got back, Dad told me to take the girls for a spin, and “By the way, I have your CD in. They think you’re Kellie Pickler.” And by the way, I just WISH I could sing like Kellie Pickler.

So I hopped in the ‘Vette with the girls and Kellie Pickler. When I asked them if they thought that was me, they both replied, “No, Mom [rolling their eyes], that’s Kellie Pickler.” So, I just grinned and picked out a song in which my voice sounded closest to my speaking voice as possible and then sang along with it. Livvie looked at me like I had morphed into an alien, but she was convinced after one song. Sarah still wasn’t convinced by the time we got back to the house, so the Granddad pulled the CD cover out of the trunk and showed it to her. I think she is finally now convinced. And Olivia now likes to sing B.F.D.

I uploaded four of the songs here: B.F.D. originally by Kathy Mattea, Bringing Out the Elvis by Faith Hill, Fever by Peggy Lee, and Nobody Love, Nobody Gets Hurts by Susy Bogguss. Be kind. I’m not Kellie Pickler.

Tuesday Treasury Shout Out—Walk-in Studios

etsy treasury
Isn’t this gorgeous!  Thanks to Ruth and Jesse of Walk-in Studios for including one of my glass tile pendants, third row right.  Click here to visit the treasury site with clickable links to all the gorgeous rosey items included! 

Summer is Fleeting

It’s gorgeous here in north Florida in October. Though Summer is my first love, Fall is a close second. A little taste of crisp air after the heat and humidity of August and September is always welcome. This weekend brought us lows in the upper 50’s, highs in the upper 70’s. Just perfect for us Floridians! We’ve finally been able to turn off the a/c and open the windows. I captured this picture in Boca Grande earlier this summer and just stumbled back across it. I chased this lonely beach ball down the beach for nearly 30 minutes shooting away. Coming across it today reminded me of those fleeting days of summers as fall sets in. I came across this beautiful poem searching “summer is fleeting.” It’s credited to britishkid16 on this poetry website.

The greatest days
of my life
were born and dead
with the passing summer.

There was so much I loved
about those long days
in the time when I knew no worry,
and lived with no haste.

Freedom, and love of life were both mine
when the sun conquered the horizon each morning
The clouds had no bravery
to keep them alive in the sky.

I cherished the thunder that rumbled low
after each bright day
the rains came and went
washing away impurities of the past.

I listened to the ocean,
while I pondered the change to come
Soon I would have to leave,
These celestial summer months.

With time, I started once more on my journey,
to seek what other seasons had for me
I was soon cast away into the gloomy autumn,
with summer left to memories.

Ah, to be a poet...not a writing skill I've ever been able to master.  This week I’m getting ready for my first big Fall arts festival, the Glynn Arts Association Arts in the Park in St. Simon’s Island, Georgia. I love St. Simon’s, just over an hour from home, but this will be the first time I’ve participated in this show. In my usual procrastinating fashion, I’ll be up late all this week working on last minute pieces to add to the show. I’ll share a few with you later! Happy Monday!

October Free Bling Friday!

Time for Free Bling Friday! picked lucky comment number 13 as the winner of September's Free Bling, so congratulations to Lola from Murfreesboro, Tennessee!

For October, how about a pair of lovely fall earrings?  I created these with some gorgeous organic silvered lampwork beads, topped with amethyst Swarovski crystal, all set in sterling silver.  They hang approximately 1 1/4 inches. 

To be eligible to win, simply visit either of my Etsy shops (here for jewelry and here for photography) and leave a comment in the comment box below with the link to your favorite piece along with a way to reach you and where you’re from by midnight Thursday, November 4, 2010. Want more entries? Tweet, blog or Facebook this giveaway and leave another comment with the link. The next winner will be drawn via Friday, November 5, 2010. Don't want to miss a single Free Bling Friday? Click here to sign up for free weekly email updates or subscribe in the reader of your choice in the right column over there. Be sure to join my Facebook Fan page for Fan specials! Thanks for stopping in!

Words from a Very Sweet Girl

The girlies have definitely embraced their art journals, and it’s been fun to watch them embark on their own with their pages. Sunday while I was cleaning up my studio, Olivia was intently working in hers, and she completed about four pages, most of which included lots of rubber stamping with bright colors. She proudly showed me each one as she finished, except this last one, which included no stamping. It slipped my mind until I had to get something out of my workshop last night and found it. So continuing in my gratefulness that I posted Monday, I had to share what she wrote. In case you can’t read 2nd grade scribbles, here’s the translation:

“I love my Dad to the moon and back and I love my Mom to the moon and back and I love my sister to the moon and back and I love God to the moon and back and Granddad to the moon and back and myself to the moon and back. I love Grandma Cathy to the moon and back. I love Savannah to the moon and back [cat #1] and Tink to the moon and back [cat #2] and Molly to the moon and back [dog #2] and Isabelle to the moon and back [dog #1] and Miss Shirley to the moon and back [neighbor across the street]. And I love my stuffed animals to the moon and back and I love Aunt Kim to the moon and back and Uncle Rob to the moon and back. And I love the bunnies that hang out in my front yard too, and I love the earth.”

Oh, the sweetness. Sigh… What sweet things have you seen today?

How the Birds and the Bees Made Me Grateful

I came across this picture cleaning up and packing my office before our repaint and recarpet this summer and found it tucked in my calendar last week. It was taken at the beach wedding of a friend. Sarah and I were watching the wedding while DH and Olivia were off shell hunting, and the wedding photographer caught this shot. Such innocence. Where the heck did it go!?!

I was driving the girls to school Friday when Sarah asked, “Mama, how can teenagers have a baby?” Stalling, I asked her what she meant, and she said she saw a teenager on TV that had a baby. Wow! Didn’t expect to have the birds and the bees conversation quite this early. I tried to respond with, “Well, teenagers really shouldn’t be having babies.” And she said, “’cause you aren’t supposed to have a baby until you are at least 30.” See, I’m trying to train them well! I tell them that you can’t get married until you are 30, so therefore, you can’t have a baby until you are at least 30 because you have to get married before you have a baby. (Now, I realize that in this day and age, many women are having children without getting married, and that’s fine, but that’s a discussion for another post…) Anywho, Sarah continued with, “So do we have to start taking no-baby pills now so that we don’t have a baby?”

You see, when the girls have asked me about the little pill I take before I go to bed every night (they are far too observant), I tell them that’s my no-baby pill so that I don’t have any more babies. (Okay, so maybe I need to rethink that conversation.) I tried to explain that while, yes, no-baby pills work to keep you from having a baby, there are things that mamas and daddies do to make babies that you won’t need to worry about for a long, long, long time (like when you are 25, she says, as she sticks her head in the sand). “What’s that, Mama?” And I stupidly responded, “Sex.” “What’s sex, Mama?” I somehow managed to change the subject by responding again that it’s something they wouldn’t have to worry about for a long, long, long time, and then said, “Hey look! They mowed the cow pasture! What are the cows going to eat now!?”

I’m guessing the topic of “What’s sex?” has now probably come up at school amongst their friends. I can hear it now: “Destiny, do you know what sex is? My Mama said it’s what mamas and daddies do to make babies.” I am expecting a call from the school any day now.

This Mama stuff….when you don’t have your own Mama around, it’s very much a make-it-up-as-you-go-along thing. I guess even if you do have your Mama around, you might still be making it up as you go along. There are mornings when it just smacks me out of nowhere. I’ll be standing at the kitchen sink, washing up the breakfast dishes while trying to keep the girls on task to brush their teeth, pack their backpacks and get ready to head out the door, and it smacks me right across the face: I’m a mother. I don’t know why it sometimes hits me that way. From early on, I knew I wanted children. Heck, I wanted four children! Boys! I think maybe that came from seeing my college boyfriend’s family. They are a family of four boys who all absolutely adore their Mama. But still there are days that I find myself amazed that I am a mother…that I am worthy of this task…that I have been given this blessing…that I have the qualifications for this most wonderful of jobs… Maybe it’s because we had to go through so much to get where we are, who knows?

Take a peek over at Brene Brown’s post today. She and I corresponded a bit after this post and I’m working on doing a few things on campus related to this project. What does this have to do with being a mother, you ask, other than what should be the obvious that “perfect mother” is an oxymoron? In our emails, she directed me to a TED talk she did about vulnerability, and what she speaks of everyday, having ordinary courage, taking the time to realize the small wonderfulness that happens in our lives every day. The little things we take for granted. That’s what it has to do with being a mother. I will remember the conversation Sarah and I had Friday morning hopefully for the rest of my days. And standing at the kitchen sink tomorrow morning, I will remember what a blessing it is to stand there and wash the breakfast dishes of two little angels. And I will be amazed and overjoyed that I am their Mama. And I will be incredibly grateful for that gift. How about you? Have you taken the time to think about what you are grateful for today?

21 Secrets Now Open for Registration!

Dirty Footprints Studios registration for "21 Secrets…An Art Journal Playground" is now open! This workshop is going to be a blast! You’ll learn art journaling techniques from 21 different artists, including me (with some help from my two little redheads!). Whether you are a seasoned art journalist or new to this art form, you'll receive tons of inspiration and step by step instruction. There's something for everyone, so I hope you’ll join us! Click HERE to view more details. Connie has graciously offered an affiliate program for all the participating artists, so please help me spread the word by directing people back to this blog post so they can Click HERE to view more details and register through my affiliate number.

And for a little extra incentive, register through my link above, and you'll get your choice of one of my glass tile pendants as a thank you for supporting me and all the artists teaching this class. So if you've had your eye on one, here's your chance to get it free while also getting to play in a great class! Just let me know! And thanks for sharing this link! We are very excited! Can you tell? ;-)

21 Secrets Preview

I’ve pretty much been stuck at home since Saturday when I pulled my back. I went to the doc Monday morning and was informed I have an acute lumbar sprain and need to stay off my feet for about a week. Seriously? Me? The girl who can’t sit still!? Come on! Against doctor’s orders, I worked half the day yesterday since we had a big event going on, our annual Student/Admin Ice Cream Social and Club Day. Sure, my staff would have been fine without me, but I just felt responsible, ya know? I tried going in today, but by the time I got half way there, I realized I probably shouldn’t be driving, since to add to the back pain this morning, I had a dizzy while trying to get up. I made it to the office, signed some paperwork I needed to sign, made sure my staff was set for the day and then came back home and laid down. And slept four hours! That’s what a pain pill and a muscle relaxer will do for you, I guess. I’m fine as long as I sit still, so I’ve been able to get a lot of photo editing done since I got up from my nap.

Yesterday I told you about 21 Secrets, the online class I’ll be contributing to. The girls and I are very excited! Last night, I finished the rough draft of the class I’m teaching and sent it over to Connie for some feedback, but I thought I’d share one of the journal pages I created as one of the samples for the class. Can you tell I like pink? In the class, I walk you through what I did here step-by-step.

See that 21 Secrets button over there on the right? Yeah, that one! See that “Click here to view more details” below it? That’s where you’ll click to go to the registration page and register on Monday! Connie graciously set up all the contributing artists as affiliates so we actually get credit for all of our lovely friends and blog readers who register for the class following our link. So I hope you’ll consider joining us! You can click the link now to read about what’s in store, and then starting on Monday, you’ll be able to register for the class through my link. Don’t worry! I’ll remind you! I’m excited to see what all the other instructors will be sharing!

Stretching Ourselves Over Here!

The girlies and I got to play around in our art journals for a little bit Sunday afternoon. I thought I'd share this picture for Best Shot Monday today. Olivia is on the left, Sarah on the right. Livvie's usually more like me...with paint everywhere...while Sarah tends to be a bit neater, and I'm noticing that their journals seem to be reflecting that as well.

We've been working on a mini-art journaling workshop that will be part of a larger workshop offered by Connie over at Dirty Footprint Studio. It’s called 21 Secrets, and there will be 21 of us sharing these little mini-lessons. What a fun idea, huh? I agreed to participate last month, thinking it would be a good way to push me to try something new. I teach all the time, right?! I just don’t teach art to other artists online! That’s a whole different ball game! So there’s been a little of that “what the heck have I gotten myself into?” questioning going on, but I’m trying to just go with the flow, and whatever I end up with will work out just fine, right? I’m working on a workshop that incorporates the girls, so that’s your only clue for now. More to come soon! I'd love to be able to include a couple videos, but I am video-challenged, so if any of you video mavens out there would be kind enough to walk me through one, I'll love you forever. Really, I will!

Connie will be opening registration on Monday, September 20, and the class will begin October 1. Read more about the class here. Stay tuned for more information on registering for the class through me right here on Artful Happiness. And hop on over to Tracey's blog to see more of Best Shot Monday!

Hopefully, Soon....

My goodness, my world has been so much crazier than usual lately! We've just finished the second week of Fall term at work, and our enrollment is up nearly 30%. We now have about 16,000 students on my campus and about 65,000 collegewide. A new addition to my office has added to the craziness. I've inherited Student IDs! Whoo hoo! Well, actually I should say I re-inherited them because I had them about 12 years ago before they were moved to the library. But now they are back in my shop, with a brand new system, and a brand new requirement that all students MUST have the new ID. So yep, that's 16,000 students, all coming through my Student Lounge to get their new IDs. Hopefully it'll slow down about mid-term. The pay-for-print function goes on line next week, so I'm sure that will bring in a whole new wave since students will start to figure out they can't print anything in the library or computer labs without their new ID. (For those of you new to the blog and wondering what the heck I'm talking about, by day, I'm the Collegewide Coordinator of Student Life and Leadership Development at a very large four-year college here in North Florida. I also teach English Composition, Student Leadership, and a "How to Succeed in College" class. It's a never ending circus!)

Here on the home front, yesterday morning my laptop was smacked by a virus. You know those ones that tell you you've gotten a virus and you must purchase this anti-virus software, and the only way to get out of the freakin' thing is the purchase the software or shut down your computer? Dang, they tick me off. So shut down the computer I did. (Thankfully I have a desktop system upstairs.) I'll have to take my laptop in to the office Monday to be debugged. I keep my laptop in my studio, so since that went down, I decided I'd clean up my studio. I bent down, popped something in my back and, whammo, flat on the floor. DH got me on the couch, where I had to stay for the rest of the day. Those of you who've known me long know that I'm not very good at sitting still. To add to the pain and the boredom of being forced to lay on the couch all day, I had to lay there and watch my Florida State Seminoles get badly beaten by the Oklahoma Sooners. We have no defense. Plain and simple. In his "my Alabama Crimson tide is the number one team in the nation" smugness, DH warned me he thought things would get worse for a couple years after Coach Bowden retired before they got better. I was hoping he was wrong! I think a trip to Tallahassee is in order so I can have a pep talk with the team. :-)

Well, the pain pill that DH convinced me to take this morning is starting to kick in and I'm feeling that any moment now, I'll be drifting off to la la land. Hopefully things will get back to my normal crazy soon. I'm sorry for neglecting you, sweet little blog! And I miss catching up with my blogging friends! Hopefully soon! I listed the piece here not too long ago in my Etsy shop. Starting to gear up for a couple Fall arts festivals... Enjoy your day! And hop on over to Cathy's blog to see the sweet post she wrote about me yesterday. Thanks Cath!

Tuesday Treasury Shout Out: Teclur

9-6-10 kellywarrenphotoart

I need to catch up on my Tuesday Treasury Shout Outs! Thanks so much to Teclur for featuring my Old Hank. There's a cool new treasury generator for posting treasuries on blogs and having all the photos link directly to the items, but I've yet to get it to work for me, so it's still screen shots for now! Visit this treasury here for clickable links to all the items featured. Thanks again Teclur! Very cooling clothing in your shop!

New Digs for Old Harvey and the Gang

I have been given a wonderful honor! I’ve known about this for a while, but I didn’t want to fully believe it was real until I actually saw them on the wall. That’s right…saw them on the wall! Remember that solo gallery show featuring my rusty cars that opened in July? North Campus administration was so taken with my photos and how perfectly they matched their new Academic Success Center that they purchased 19 of the 31 pieces in the gallery show. I was stunned and amazingly thankful and appreciative. I was able to get over to North Campus last week and take a few pictures of them hanging in their new digs. A very big thank you goes out to Dana Thomas and B.J. Hausman for their encouragement, support and great decorating sense! I love the way the hung my work!

Time for September Free Bling! picked comment number six today, so congratulations to Natalie, who's about to move her family from Chattanooga, Tennessee, to Boise, Idaho! I was just in the Chattanooga area last week Natalie! Natalie has a lovely blog. Take a peek here.

For September, here’s one of my glass tile pendants featuring my "Florida Flurries" photograph. I captured Florida Flurries in the 100 Acre Wood, otherwise known as the Theodore Roosevelt National Recreation Area. It's a wonderful trail filled park. The tile is handmade glass from Annie Howes, who makes all my glass for me, and the pendant is finished with a silver-toned aanraku bail. It comes complete with a silver-tone ball chain cut to the length of your choice.

To be eligible to win, simply visit either of my Etsy shops (here for jewelry and here for photography) and leave a comment in the comment box below with the link to your favorite piece along with a way to reach you and where you’re from by midnight Thursday, September 30, 2010. Want more entries? Tweet, blog or Facebook this giveaway and leave another comment with the link. The next winner will be drawn via Friday, October 1, 2010. Don't want to miss a single Free Bling Friday? Click here to sign up for free weekly email updates or subscribe in the reader of your choice in the right column over there. Be sure to join my Facebook Fan page for Fan specials! Thanks for stopping in!

North Georgia Snapshots

We had a great time in North Georgia visiting Aunt Livy last weekend. Best to share it in photos!

Our first stop was, no lie, El Cheapo gas station in Alma, Ga. Don’t you love that donkey? Can’t say I’ve ever heard of El Cheapo, but DH says they are all over the back roads of Georgia, which he’s traveled for softball tournaments. We later learned that El Cheapo is run by Friendly Gus’s brother. Gus is all over the back roads of Georgia, too.

Caught a beautiful Rainbow just north of Macon at Cracker Barrel…you know you have to eat at Cracker Barrel when you are traveling, at least in these parts.

We saw Rock City…

…where we were reminded of a very good lesson…

…and saw some of my favorite things…

…and captured a rare picture of me and DH…

…and created photographers in the making.

We visited the Tennessee Aquarium and its top floor butterfly garden…

…and Chickmauga Battlefield and its rolling hills (see those deer) and cannons….

…and my house (thank my dad for this goofy picture).

And most importantly, we spent some good time with one of the most wonderful ladies on the face of the earth, my dear sweet Aunt Livy. We spent a day making crafts and catching up and telling stories and remembering fun times (the boys visited the battlefields). We did another really cool thing Saturday night, which I’ll tell you about later this week. I’m still working through all those pictures!