Happy Memorial Day!

Happy Memorial Day from two little redheads and their Mama and Daddy. Hope you are having a fabulous day!

New Jewelry and Summer Fun

Happy Memorial Day weekend! I’ve been trying to get my Etsy shop and website updated the past few days. Here’s a new bracelet I just listed..fun, punchy colors perfect for summer. I also had the surprise of a nice custom order that came in Thursday, which I managed to finish last night and get out in the mail this morning. That was a record turn around for the world's greatest procrastinator (Mrs. Eller and Mama Burge must have the patience of Job since I still haven't gotten around to resizing and adding yet another name to their grandmothers' bracelets.) What a lovely customer! My thanks to Nanette in Long Beach, California.

We spent most of the day today shopping for and then putting up a new portable pool in the back yard for the girls for summer. Molly took a little nibble out of last year’s alien pod pool (really, click here and then tell me that doesn’t look like an alien pod…), so we headed to Walmart this morning to get another one. Somehow the girls and I talked DH into an upgrade which took us most of the day to put up. Okay, it really wasn’t “us” so much as it was DH, but I did help some, really I did, in between laundry loads, you know, inside where it was nice and cool…. :-) We ended up with this one instead. She’s filling up as we speak. Hours of super ugly, tacky, but easy fun for the months ahead…

Also had a great conversation with Connie of Dirty Footprints Studio this afternoon. We've got something cookin'! Stay tuned!

Mermaids and Mamas!

I’ve finally had a chance to go through all the Mermaids and Mamas pictures! We had such a fabulous time and have fabulous pictures to show for it! I’ve uploaded them all to a private Flickr group for now until I get the Mamas permission to share more. For now, here are a few to give you a little peek into our weekend: my Livvie enjoying a little hula hoop action, the perfectly wonderful mermaid wand Wyanne made, and part of our group...the last of the gang that stayed until the bitter end and helped me clean up!

I was so pleased with how everything came together! The girls were the perfect hostesses, showing everyone around as they checked in and helping them get settled in, and DH was the perfect helper, taking care of all the meals for us. We started out with our love letter envelopes (a project I brought from my big kid retreats) and then created our journals. From there it was on to some painting! We created painted initials, magic mermaid wands and painted rocks, all embellished with a variety of embellishments, everything from buttons to stickers to little wooden letters to paper and silk flowers. Lots of glue gun action! We also created pendants and bracelets, hair clips, a treasure box to keep them all in, and fairies to watch over all us. Mixed in between the projects we had hula hoop contests and bubble blowing parades, some parachute fun, and a dress up dance party Saturday night with a few challenging games of musical chairs. Some of those girls are fierce competitors!

All in all, it was simply wonderful. The Mamas gave me great feedback and the Mermaids (and the Mamas!) all had a ball. Girls enjoying being girls…both the big girls and the little girls. We played, we talked, we bonded, and we played some more (we didn’t sleep very much). It was magical. And it hope is was the first of many more to come!

p.s. Don't forget I'm up as a guest curator on CrescenDoh all this week! I share different links every day and tell my Art Saves story.

p.s.s. I currently have a very happy kitty sitting in my lap purring. I don't think I shared with you here that our sweet little Tink has been off on an adventure for the past two and a half weeks. I had almost given up hope. Then just as I was getting ready to come upstairs and write this post, something told me to peek out the front door and there she was! She's pretty skinny and very meowy, but otherwise appears to be in good health! I know the girls will be so excited when they wake up in the morning and she's here. Welcome home, Tinkster!

Art Saves....

I'll have a Mermaids and Mamas report for you later this week! For now, let me just say we had a fabulous time and I'm thoroughly exhausted....in a good way! Hop on over to CrescenDoh today, where I'm a guest curator for Art Saves!

One Excited Mermaid Mama

Been crazy busy prepping for Mermaids and Mamas this week! The girls and I are all soooooo excited! We prepped the projects (of course, I’m sure I’ll think of something else I want to do between now and 9am Saturday morning), we’ve planned the menu, and our final shopping will take place tomorrow. DH has graciously offered to be our main Mer-man cook and bottle washer (no, you’re right, I didn’t really give him a choice, but he did truly volunteer to cook burgers and hotdogs on the grill Saturday night instead of us going pizza delivery!). Here’s a couple sneak peeks of some of the projects we’ll be doing. Above, pendants and hair clips. For the pendants I changed up the recipe for Aimee’s collage pendants, and for the hair clips, I just played around with silk flowers, ribbon and metal clips. Below, something to put all their treasures in, of course! I’ll have lots of pictures and hopefully a few videos for you next week. We’re having a good old-fashioned dress up party with dancing music Saturday night!

Creating and Assessing or Assessing and Creating

Here’s another new piece I’ve recently listed. I test drove this one a couple times at work and always get tons of compliments on it! I might have a hard time letting it go! I paired one of my glass tile pendants with chunky colorfully-dyed turquoise nuggets. You can find it here in my Etsy shop.

I’ve been assessing and reassessing what I’m doing with all my various art forms here lately, and more importantly, how I’m able to incorporate, or not incorporate, them into my daily life as a full-time working mom. I was recently working on a wholesale order. I was hesitant to take it on initially because I’ve just never really thought wholesaling was for me. Well, I was right. In the end, even though I finished creating the entire order (25 glass tile pendants), I decided to cancel it. The potential buyer was incredibly sweet, but I just finally decided my time was worth far more than the wholesale price she was offering. And I’ll take the fault for that. I should have set my price higher to begin with, but after several back and forth emails with concerns shared on both sides, I just decided it was best to cancel.

It was a very valuable lesson for me. Juggling a full-time day job, part-time teaching, twin girls, a husband, and my creative play (note I called it play and not work), my time is just too valuable to create on demand on a schedule. And I think that’s where that assessment comes into play. Do I create for others, to sell my work, or do I create for me, just for the outlet that creativity provides? More and more, I’m finding that it’s far more important for me to create for me. Sure, I’ll still list my work online and participate in a few arts festivals a year simply because I truly enjoy them (though I must admit, what I really, really enjoy about them is seeing all the other beautiful work out there!), but I’ve noticed more and more lately that I’m really having a hard time focusing on one thing! I hop from jewelry to mixed media to photography, and now I’ve caught the book-making bug. (I blame, um, credit you for this, sweet Leah. :-)

Mermaids and Mamas is next weekend, and I'm thrilled beyond belief that we sold out. Through this event, I've been able to combine my 16 years working in experiential education with my love of art and children, so this really just feels right. The girls and I are so looking forward to playing with everyone, and I'm hoping it will be the first of many. And what will be we doing? Oh, a little jewelry, a little mixed media, some photography, some book-making…and who knows what else…definitely some hula-hooping, bubble blowing, fairy wandering, and s’mores making…maybe even a little late-night toenail painting. It will be an artful adventure for sure! Creating just for the fun of creating and spending time together…

More Pretties in the Mail Box

Happy Thursday! It’s been a particularly busy couple of weeks around the Happy Shack, but I did want to pop in today for a couple notes. I hope everyone had a wonderful Mother’s Day! We did here. Beautiful day, perfect weather, just hanging around the house being lazy. I did receive one little six-year-old figurative smack on the side of the head I’m still processing, so I’ll share that with you a bit later. For now, I wanted to send out a very big hug and thank you to two lovely ladies who graced my mail box with little pretties recently. Fannie sent me two pieces of her beautiful hand-dyed fabrics. Thanks so much, sweet Fannie! I have a few ideas in mind for these. Fannie is a very talented fabric and collage artist and all around beautiful soul. Take a look at her blog here.

Britta sent me this bookmark. She made the bookmark from the National Geographic magazines she purchased from my de-stash shop. Wasn’t that sweet!? She used the Citra-Solv process described in a recent Cloth Paper Scissors magazine. I’m a voracious magazine reader and can never bear to put the National Geographics in the recycle bin, so I thought someone might be able to use my burgeoning stash for collage.

Early next week, I’ll share another very special gift I received from a very special friend yesterday. :-)

Time for May Free Bling!

Random.org picked number 20 out of 55 entries for April’s Free Bling winner, so congrats to Clenna from Hudson, New Hampshire!

I’ve been working on a wholesale order for my glass tile pendants featuring Lauren Alexander’s cute little birds so I thought I’d share one of those with you for May. This is a one-inch glass tile and comes complete with a silvertone ball chain. 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 are from. Or email me with the subject line FREE BLING and let me know what your favorite piece is and include where you're from by midnight Thursday, June 3, 2010. Want two entries? Tweet, blog or Facebook this giveaway and leave a second comment with the link. The next winner will be drawn via random.org Friday, June 4, 2010. Don't want to miss a single Free Bling Friday? Click here to sign up for free weekly email reminders or subscribe in the reader of your choice in the right column over there. Be sure to join my Facebook Fan page over there in the right column for Fan specials! Thanks for stopping in!

Sweet Isabelle for A Place to Bark

Happy Thursday! I’m participating in a group project coordinated by Renee Troy to benefit Bernie Berlin’s A Place to Park. I learned of the project from Lori when she shared her entry, and immediately said, “Oh! I want to do that!” I follow Bernie’s blog and Facebook updates about her animal rescue work and am honored to contribute a page to the project. Once Renee receives all the pages, she’s going to bind them into a beautiful book to be auctioned off. All proceeds from the auction will go to A Place to Bark. I knew I wanted to use this picture of my sweet Isabelle with a quote of some kind. The one I included is by Rudyard Kipling and reads:

When the Man woke up he said,
"What is Wild Dog doing here?"
And the Woman said,
"His name is not Wild Dog any more,
but the First Friend,
because he will be our friend
for always and always and always."

I really love the “First Friend” reference in that one. My husband has always said that when he dies, he wants to come back as one of my dogs. I will admit that I do spoil them, but who else, truly, can give you the undying love and unquestioning affection that your faithful dog does? Here are a few more favorites that I came across.

“I talk to him when I’m lonesome like; and I’m sure he understands. When he looks at me so attentively, and gently licks my hands; then he rubs his nose on my tailored clothes, but I never say naught thereat. For the good Lord knows I can buy more clothes, but never a friend like that.” W. Dayton Wedgefarth

“He is my other eyes that can see above the clouds; my other ears that hear above the winds. He is the part of me that can reach out into the sea. He has told me a thousand times over that I am his reason for being; by the way he rests against my leg; by the way he thumps his tail at my smallest smile; by the way he shows his hurt when I leave without taking him. (I think it makes him sick with worry when he is not along to care for me.)

When I am wrong, he is delighted to forgive. When I am angry, he clowns to make me smile. When I am happy, he is joy unbounded. When I am a fool, he ignores it. When I succeed, he brags. Without him, I am only another man. With him, I am all-powerful. He is loyalty itself.

He has taught me the meaning of devotion. With him, I know a secret comfort and a private peace. He has brought me understanding where before I was ignorant.

His head on my knee can heal my human hurts. His presence by my side is protection against my fears of dark and unknown things. He has promised to wait for me... whenever... wherever — in case I need him. And I expect I will — as I always have. He is just my dog.” Gene Hill

“When the dog was created, it licked the hand of God and God stroked its head, saying, ‘What do you want, dog?’ It replied, ‘My Lord, I want to stay with you, in Heaven, on a mat in front of the gate.’” Marie Noel

“He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion.” Unknown Author

And lastly, this story even made DH tear up. “This soldier, I realized, must have had friends at home and in his regiment; yet he lay there deserted by all except his dog. I looked on, unmoved, at battles which decided the future of nations. Tearless, I had given orders which brought death to thousands. Yet here I was stirred, profoundly stirred, stirred to tears. And by what? By the grief of one dog.” Napoleon Bonaparte, on finding a dog beside the body of his dead master, licking his face and howling, on a moonlit field after a battle. Napoleon was haunted by this scene until his own death.

Tell me about your favorite furry friend!