A Special Visit

Kelly and Aunt Livy

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! My girls were up at 5:15am, so we had a LONG morning! After opening gifts (and once the sun finally came up), we loaded up for our annual Christmas morning visit to take the dogs to the beach. I'll share a few pictures of that later in the week, but today, I wanted to tell you about a special visit.

I've talked here about my Great Aunt Livy quite a bit. My last visit to her was in August for her 90th birthday. Since the annual birthday visit has grown from just being me, to being me and the girls and Benny, to now being me, the girls, Benny, and my sister, her husband and daughter AND my father, the August trip has gotten a bit hectic. As we were leaving in August, Aunt Livy quietly told me she missed spending time with me. We've always been each other's favorite! My birthday was earlier this month, and for the first time that I can ever remember, I did not receive a birthday card from Aunt Livy. I called her a few days after my birthday just to check on her, and as soon as she answered the phone, she said, "Oh! I'm so sorry I forgot your birthday!" I told her that was fine! I was just calling because I was worried about her! After that conversation, I started thinking about driving back to up to visit her for Christmas.

Even with the hectic pace that the holidays always bring, I still couldn't get that thought out of my head. So! Christmas afternoon about 2pm, I got in the car and drove up to North Georiga. She's in Rock Springs, about 20 minutes south of Chattanooga, Tennessee. I got up there about 9:30pm, and in dense fog, found a hotel. Yesterday morning, I called the nurses at her home (she's in an extended living facility), and told them that I was coming but wanted it to be a surprise. They said, "No problem! We'll make sure she's up and dressed!"

I told them I'd be there around 11am, and when I arrived one of the nurses greeted me at the door and said, "We have her all ready for you! We told her she had a surprise coming, but she thinks we were just trying to get her out of bed!" When I walked in, she was sitting next to the Christmas tree reading some mail, and I snuck up to her and said, "Merry Christmas!" I think if she hadn't had already been sitting down, she would have fallen down!

We spent about three hours together, talking and telling stories, and having a nice lunch in town, just the two of us. One of the things we talked about was my mom, both knowing the time of the year. Today is the 12th anniversary of her death. I know that the reason I am so close to my Aunt Livy is because my mom was so close to my Aunt Livy. I remember so many times with her growing up, and it was so special for the two of us to have this time together alone to share stories and, yes, share some tears.

It was a wonderful three hours, and worth every bit of the nearly-18-hour round-trip drive. I promised Benny I'd get back on the road by 2pm, so that I did. The drive back home took more than nine hours with all the day-after-Christmas traffic, but I'd get in the car and go back tomorrow if she needed me to. Every one needs an "Aunt Livy." I hope you have someone like that in your life.

Notes to Santa...

Note to Santa Sarah 2011

The girls wrote their notes to Santa earlier this week, and they've been taped to the door ever since. I couldn't get a good picture of them on the door because of the glass, so I gently took them down and laid them on the porch for these shots. Aw, the innocence of childhood. I so hope they still believe for years to come. And I can say that I've had a little talk with Santa, and his elves have created two little Sarah and Olivia look alike American Girl dolls. :-)

Note to Santa Olivia 2011

Here in our home, we celebrate Christmas as the birth of Christ, so Merry Christmas to you, in whatever way you and your family celebrate the day.

Christmas 2011

Eight-Year-Old Computer Graffiti Art

Sarah's Masterpiece

Sarah has discovered the Paint program on my new computer! Here's her first shot at her graffiti art. In case you can't quite read it, it says "Sarah and Mommy Warren."  My last day in the office and the girls' last day at school before the break was last Friday so we've been enjoying our time at home. My dad, his wife Kathy, and my sister Kim, brother-in-law and baby niece were here this last weekend, so Kim and I spent a good bit of time in the kitchen baking. The girls are I seem to be subsisting very well on Snickerdoodles, Molasses Sugar Cookies and Buckeyes this week! Hope you are enjoying the holidays!

A Day at the Office

Secret Santa party 12-13-11

Days at the office have been rather stressful lately (I'll just keep it at that...), so times like the one captured in this picture are precious. Yesterday, we had our office Christmas Party and Secret Santa exchange. Really this is all about my students. My "staff" consists of a whopping four people, and that includes me! Only three of us are in this picture; the fourth was taking the picture (my assistant Angie has been my assistant for 17.5 years, and she becomes a ghost when the camera comes out). The rest are my students...Student Government officers, Student Ambassadors, and office Student Assistants. They are the reason that I attempt to maintain my sanity when other things happening around the College really make me want to pull my hair out. They are a great group! (Did I mention things have been rather stressful lately? My Christmas vacation leave is thankfully only two more days away...deep breaths...deep breaths...).  In this picture, I'm even wearing the owl necklace I shared with you Monday!

Mix It Up Monday: Steampunk Owl

Steampunk owl

Happy Monday! Ours here in North Florida is very rainy and windy, so I hope you are fairing a little better. I actually created this little guy over a month ago and have worn him quite a few times. He gets tons of compliments! I got the idea from Dime Store Emporium, a great little shop that sells lots of fun, inexpensive steampunk and brass findings. I'm not planning on getting into creating steampunk-style jewelry on a regular basis, but I have a few steampunk pieces that I've purchased from other designers that I really enjoy wearing. I wish I had finished this little guy in time for my Chi Omega reunion back in October. We did a great little owl exchange!  I hope you have a wonderful week ahead of you.

December Free Bling

December Free Bling

Time for my monthly Free Bling Friday giveaway! Random.org picked comment number 11 as the winner of my November Free Bling, so congratulations to Catalina from Pomona, California!

As we hit the end of the year, I thought I little piece of Father Time might be appropriate for December's giveaway. Here is my Watching Melrose photo sized down to a 1" glass tile pendant. 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 January 5, 2012. Want more entries? Tweet, blog or Facebook this giveaway and leave another comment with the link. The next winner will be drawn via random.org Friday, January 6.

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 specials. Thanks for stopping in! Giveaway open to US and Canadian residents only.

Tuesday Treasury Shout Out: Mama Stowe and FEST

12-6-11 photoandhappy

Thanks to Mama Stowe for including my work in this festive treasury featuring the members of the Florida Etsy Street Team. My tulip photo earrings are second row, first spot, and my red daisy photo is third row, first spot. Thanks Mama Stowe! Visit this treasury is all its clickable wonderfulness here, visit the FEST blog here, and visit Mama Stowe's shop here!

An Angel Has Gone Home

Those of you who’ve been reading this blog from early on may remember the angel I met on the Washington DC Metro. I learned today that Franklin Fung Chow recently passed away. I had been receiving his newsletter since we met three years ago and stopped receiving it about six months ago, so I guess that’s when his battle with leukemia really started taking its toll on him. The world has lost an angel. I still keep those two little red envelopes he gave my girls in a little pouch in my purse that goes with me everywhere. Below, I’ve reposted the original story I wrote about him. As I reread it just now, I had tears running down my face.  You are with God now, Franklin, an angel gone back to Heaven. Thanking you for blessing my life.

Dear Mr. Fung Chow,

My family and I came upon you in a Washington, D.C. Metro stop on Sunday afternoon, October 12. We were a bedraggled family of four—a dad grumpy from having to lug a double stroller up and down the Metro’s escalator stairs, two little redheads cranky from no naps and lots of activities in the big city, and a mom tired and run down from trying to keep everyone together, sane, fed and happy near the end of a long day of sight-seeing. 

We were changing train lines and had to maneuver through three different sets of escalators when we met you. My husband had just tossed the stroller up against the wall near where you were standing, and I looked at you with apologetic eyes as I picked the stroller up and leaned it against the wall. You smiled sweetly at me. You asked me what brought us to the city, and when I told you about my sister’s wedding the previous day, you said, “Oh, I bet she looked so beautiful. And how did you two meet?”

As I started telling you how my husband and I met, my daughters came over to my side. It was then that you pulled two little envelopes out of your jacket pocket and gave one to each of my girls. I have to admit, I was a bit hesitant at first, a complete stranger in the Metro giving something to my children, but after a moment’s hesitation, I saw the little light shining in your eyes. My girls looked at the beautiful little red envelopes with Asian characters on them, and not knowing what they were, looked at me in confusion. When you suggested they open them, they looked at me for guidance, and I told them it was okay. Of course, all they paid attention to was the dollar bill you had slipped inside each one, but I saw the other card in there as well and briefly read the side that included your name, address, email and position: “Retired Federal Civil Servant.”

fung chow-livvie011

Our train was approaching the station, so we didn’t really have time to say much more than “Thank You” as we gathered up our stroller and children and boarded the train. I watched you for a moment as you entered the train at the rear of our car. As soon as you boarded, you started cheerfully talking to the people around you. I tried to catch snippets of your conversation but couldn’t hear over the noise of the train. But I could see you, a big smile on your face as you brought smiles to the faces of everyone around you. Best I could tell, you got off at the next stop, disappearing like an angel, and it was then that I took the time to read what you had given us. It was a chart of all the Chinese New Years complete with the year, date of the New Year, the animal representing it, and the characteristics of those born in that year. Through it, I learned that I was born in the year of the Snake and am “wise, passionate, determined and attractive”; that my husband was born in the year of the Dog and is “dependable, protective, tender, private and eccentric”; and lastly, that my daughters were born in the year of the Sheep and will grow up to be “sensitive, have success in the arts, aesthetic, and charitable”. I marveled at the similarities to our personalities.

fung chow-sarah012

When we got back to my sister’s apartment, my girls drew pictures for you to thank you for your kindness. I'm mailing those to you today along with this letter. I’ve kept the cards you gave us, along with these pictures, in a little zippered pouch in my purse ever since you gave them to us. I even convinced my girls to let me keep the dollar bills in there so we could save everything as a reminder of the blessing we received from you that day. I’m not sure why you chose us. Maybe it was the frustration and tiredness you saw on our faces; maybe you were just waiting for a family with two small children to come by; or maybe you truly were an angel, sent to remind us that no matter the troubles that may come our way, someone is always watching over us, and that a simple gift of friendly kindness can make a huge impression on someone else’s life, as you have on mine.

I think of you often, dear sir, and whenever I’m having a bad day, I pull those beautiful little red envelopes out of their pouch in my purse and read them again. I’ll save them to give to my children when they are old enough to truly appreciate the gesture. And I’ll tell them this story about the angel we met on the Metro in Washington, D.C. when they were five years old. Thank you, Mr. Franklin Fung Chow, for you truly are a blessing, and I’m quite certain there were gossamer wings underneath your jacket. I wish you the merriest of Christmas holidays and many blessings for the New Year to come.

The Great Computer Saga of Thanksgiving 2011

sar choc

For those of you in the States, I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. For me, I’m thankful for a lot of things, like my family, health and roof over my head, but this year, as crazy as it sounds, I’m most thankful for the two pictures in this post. Why you ask? Well let me tell you a little story called the Great Computer Saga of Thanksgiving 2011.

Wednesday night before Thanksgiving, my computer crashed. Again. This was the third time in about five months. The first time, I took it into one of our IT techs on campus, and once I got it there, of course, it worked fine.  Daunie ran some diagnostics and copied some files for me. He said the next time it does that to just unplug it and let it sit for a day or two. So the second time it crashed in the same fashion (doing nothing but going “beep beep” when I tried to power it up), I unplugged and let it sit for a day. Magically fixed. Fired right up a day later. Well, the third time I wasn’t so lucky. Given that it was the third time, Benny said, “It’s Black Friday. Just go buy yourself a new computer.”

So after pursuing the sale ads, I first headed to Sam’s, but when I got there I did not see the system I saw in the paper. I came back home and did some research, talked to a computer geek friend about recommended systems, and then headed to Best Buy. I purchased an HP with 8GB of RAM and a 1 TB hard drive. Mack Daddy compared to the seven-year-old system I had! I also went ahead and got a new monitor to go along with it. 

So fast forward to two hours later and me trying to set up this computer. Now mind you, I’m no super tech, but I know how to set up a computer. So when my new monitor would not talk to my new hard drive, I tried everything I knew to do, to no avail, and then called the HP tech support line.  I proceeded the tell the HP tech what my issue was, and after she took all my personal information she could possibly ask for short of my social security number and name of my first born child, she proceeded to walk me through a series of steps to diagnose the problem. This included (hold on, this is a long list): hooking the blue VGA cable and the white DVI cable from my new monitor to various points on my new tower; hooking the new VGA cable from my old monitor to my new tower; and hooking the VGA cable from my new monitor to my laptop (this was after she suggested hooking the new monitor to my old computer…which had, um, crashed…which is why I was having this conversation to begin with).

When none of that worked, she said, “Well, now I’m going to need you to get a screw driver and take the back cover off of your tower.” Me: “Um, doesn’t that void the warranty?” Her: “Oh, no! Not since I’m telling you to do it!” Me: “Um, since I just bought this thing three hours ago (by this time we had been on the phone for an hour), wouldn’t it make more sense for me to just take it back to Best Buy?” Her: “Um, hold on, let me ask about that……..[tick tock, tick tock]….okay, yes, if you’d prefer to do that and have the receipt, you can do that.” Me: “Well, since I’ve just spent an hour on the phone with you, can you email me stating that we’ve just gone through this so that I can take that to Best Buy as well?” Her: “Well, why don’t we just keep trying?” Me: “Can I please speak to a manager?” Her: “Now why would you want to do that?” Me: “Why can you not email me documentation of this conversation?” Her: “Can you give me the number to Best Buy and I’ll call them?” Me: “I would need a working computer to do that.” Her: “The number should be on your receipt.” 

flying liv

So completely worn out, I go downstairs to find my receipt to give this totally unhelpful chick the number. She calls and gets the Best Buy Geek Squad on the line. They proceed to have a conversation I am not privy to, and then finally connect me in. She just wanted to make sure I knew Best Buy’s return policy. Best Buy dude: “If this was a Black Friday sale item, we may not have a replacement system in the store.” Me: “This was not a sale item.” Best Buy dude, stalling: “Well you can bring it back in.” Me: “Will you be there? What is your name?” Best Buy dude: “Alfred, and yes, I’ll be here until close.” The totally unhelpful HP online tech: “Will you please stay on the line so that we can finish processing this call?” Me: “Oh sure, I will.” HP tech: “Hold please.” Me: Click.

And so…then I packed up the entire system and went back to Best Buy. I found Alfred, and he said he just wanted to confirm that the HP tech had been giving me the correct information. He proceeded to show me how to correctly hook the monitor to the tower. Do you think it resembled any of the things the HP tech had me do? Nope. Not a one. Alfred: “Did the HP tech ever ask you what type of monitor you had?” Me: “No, she just asked me the serial number on the tower.” He just kind of shook his head and asked me if I still wanted to return it now that he had told me how to do it correctly. I was so incredibly frustrated by that point that I said no; I just wanted to return the whole freakin’ shebang. He continued to shake his head and said he didn’t blame me. I felt like I had just been the subject of an episode of Candid Camera. 

But oh, dear friends, the story does not end there! So on Saturday, I went back to Sam’s. After looking around a bit more, I got a Dell with the same power configuration, plus a wireless keyboard and mouse, plus a 24” monitor…all for the same price of the tower and wired keyboard and mouse without the monitor at Best Buy. I got home and hooked that one up. Monitor was beautiful. But….the wireless internet would not connect to my Wi-Fi. I tried everything I could think of. I reset my modem. I reset my router. I unplugged it all and plugged it back in…three times. I moved it to another room, much closer to the computer. Nothing. This was Saturday night and again Sunday morning. With tears of frustration running down my face, I gave up Sunday morning and went for a run. As I was walking out the door, Benny said he was headed up to give it a shot.

When I got back, he hadn’t gotten it working, but he decided it was the router and had gone online to find recommended compatible routers for my new system. So off I headed back to Best Buy with my list of recommended routers. First I went to the Geek Squad counter. Totally unhelpful. See, here was the thing that was unexplainable: my five year old laptop downstairs on the ground floor of my house in my studio picked up my wireless router signal on the third floor of my house just fine, four bars out of five. Yet my Mack Daddy new desktop, sitting 20 feet from the router on the same floor, only registered one measly little bar, not enough to get online. This made no sense to me and pointed to a problem with the tower, not my router. But no, the Geek Squad guy just said to move computer to another location in my house. Gee thanks. I wandered over to look at routers just for the heck of it and had a conversation with Richard in the blue Best Buy shirt. I proceeded to tell Richard the Great Computer Saga of Thanksgiving 2011.

Richard listened patiently. Richard said it might be your router, but it might not. Richard: “Is it a laptop or a desktop?”  Desktop, I told him…again.  Apparently he tuned out somewhere in the middle of the saga (as you may well have). Richard: “Oh, a desktop, eh? Does it have an antenna?” Me: “An antenna? What would that look like and where would it go?” We walked over to the desktops and he showed me what an antenna looked like and where it would go. “Hallelujah!” I heard the angels sing. Me: “I saw two little funky black things like that in the box, but they were not mentioned anywhere in the set up instructions!” Richard: “Hook them up and that should solve your problem.” Me: “Richard, I love you! You have been the most helpful person I’ve talked to in three days! You deserve a big smackin’ raise!” Richard: “Glad I could help, ma’am. You have a nice day now.” 

So back to these two pictures. And a big thanks to my wonderful IT friend on campus. Remember waaaaaay back in this story when I told you my computer first crashed and that IT friend copied a few files for me? Well, I remembered those CDs. And when I looked at them, I saw that he hadn’t just copied a few files; he had copied my entire desktop and all my picture and document files. And that’s where I found these two wonderful pictures. Daunie, I love you! What I’d done since Daunie copied those files, I found either on my external drive or still in my camera. All I’ve lost are my jewelry pics I uploaded last Wednesday. And that, my friends, is the Great Computer Saga of Thanksgiving 2011.  If you've made it this far, thanks for sticking with me, and I hope I at least made you laugh. And, oh, remember to ask for Richard at Best Buy.

Hoot! Hoot!

love notes-hoot102
Happy Thursday! Since I haven't had time to photograph any of my own artwork lately, I thought I'd share another note from my girlies (a scanner is a wonderful thing). Olivia had left this for me on the door when I got home this past Tuesday night. She loves owls, loves drawing owls, and has at least five owl t-shirts. 

Now, this has probably come from some subliminal owl promotion from her Mama. I'm a Chi Omega (no, the sorority/fraternity experience does not end when you graduate from college), and our mascot is an owl. I have a whole collection of owls, both two-dimensional and three-dimensional, and am currently sporting the latest addition to my collection on my arm: a fun little cuff bracelet I found at the cute little shop where I met a friend for lunch today. This morning, Olivia sent me to work with not only this drawing, but also a larger drawing that she did inside the bottom of a bottled-water crate this morning over breakfast. That, I'm afraid, I cannot fit on my scanner! However, I can tell you that is it a drawing of a tree with four owls, each colored the favorite color of the members of our family: purple for Olivia, blue for Sarah, crimson for Benny (Alabama fan), and green for me. I think my preference for green has something to do with the fact that Benny tells me that my eyes are like two pools of green algae, and I choose to take that as a compliment.

Love Notes

love note

I've had a very, very busy few weeks (as evidenced by my lack of blogging!). I've been working late at least two-three nights a week lately and have had just a bit too much on my plate. When I got home late Tuesday night after a 13-hour day, I found this note taped to the front door, and it melted my heart. 

My girls leave notes on the door for me quite often, and I realized that's because I get home late quite often. Tuesday night when I opened the door, I found the girls asleep in the bed with Benny. When I woke them up to take them up to their room, they said, "We were waiting for you, Mama." :-)

November is a month of giving thanks. Today is Veterans' Day, a day to give thanks to those who've served in our military. I come from a military family on my mom's side. My granddaddy and his brothers served in WWII, and my mother's brother served in Vietnam. Benny's dad served in the Korean War. I'm thankful for the freedom our soldiers continue to fight for, and watching the news, I'm often reminded of just how lucky we are, economy in the tank or not. We are still so much better off than so many others across the world. 

I'm very thankful for this sweet family of mine. I know that even in times of 13 hour days, I am blessed, and I'll have a whole box of love notes to save for those rainy days when I really need a little reminder.

November Free Bling Friday!

November 2011 Free Bling

Time for my monthly Free Bling Friday giveaway! Random.org picked comment number 16 as the winner of my October Free Bling, so congratulations to Brenda from Canada!

For November, how about a little something to brighten up your holiday season? I've paired pretty green glass briolettes with lt. Colorado topaz Swarovski crystals and sparkling sterling silver.  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 1. Want more entries? Tweet, blog or Facebook this giveaway and leave another comment with the link. The next winner will be drawn via random.org Friday, December 2 (my birthday!).

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 specials. Thanks for stopping in! Giveaway open to US and Canadian residents only.

Tuesday Treasury Shout Out: Artsy Gemini


Thanks to Sandy of artsygemini for including Miss Violet at the Starting Line in this treasury (first row, first spot)! Love all this rusty stuff with a touch of teal. Great job putting this one together Sandy and thanks so much for including me! See the treasury with clickable links to all work here, and take a peek at Sandy's vintage goodies here.

Happy Halloween!


Happy Halloween!  Here's my crew at work in all our zombie ghoul. I mentioned earlier that our Student Government Fall Festival was last Wednesday, and we went with a Halloween carnival theme. With the exception of Elise, in the blue shirt like me, these are all students involved in my office.

Wear Pink Day

And here we are looking a little more alive, all in our pink for a breast cancer awareness activity we did on campus a few weeks ago.  I hope you and yours have a Happy Halloween whether you're dressed in blood and gore or pink fairy wings and glitter! What are you and/or your little ones dressing up as?

Adjusting to Fall!

Smoky Quartz Earrings

As much as I welcome the cooler Fall weather (though "cooler" is a relative term here in Florida), I'm just not much of a Fall/Winter girl, especially when it comes to color. I suppose if we had the change of seasons and the beautiful Fall color that more northern climates have, I'd enjoy it, but here, it's pretty much green, and then for a spurt, brown when we get a freeze. I'm not complaining, mind you, because I am most definitely a Spring and Summer girl, again especially when it comes to color. And weather for that matter!

When I sit down at my jewelry bench, I'm naturally drawn to pinks, purples, blues, greens...in a word, bright happy colors!..so working in the more muted tones of Fall and Winter, like these smoky quartz earrings I created, is a challenge for me. I have the biggest of my Fall shows coming up in less than two weeks though, the Halifax Arts Festival in Daytona, so get busy I must. Procrastination be darned!

We had our Student Government Association Fall Festival today, so I currently look like a zombie...with purple glasses and blonde curls...well, bloody blonde curls anyway. I'll post some pictures later this week!

Catching My Breath!

Chi Os

Happy Monday! I just wanted to share a little follow up picture to Thursday’s post. Here’s the gang that made it for the weekend, at the Ale House on Friday night. I’m peeking out from the middle of the back row. Great weekend shared with old friends. Some of us stayed out much later than others, but thankfully I was in bed each night by midnight! Between tailgating pre-game and going out to eat and hitting an old haunt after the game, Saturday was a very long day, followed up for me by a photo shoot Sunday morning, so I’m feeling the payback today. I’ll have some shots from Sunday morning’s shoot for you later this week!

Reliving the Good Old Days...


Tomorrow afternoon, I'm heading over to Tallahassee to spend the weekend with some of my college sorority sisters. We started this tradition during football season last year, so many of us reconnecting through Facebook, so this will be our second gathering for a game and some walking down memory lane. It appears I'll be on the older end of the spectrum for those attending this year (we range from 1985 initiates to much much younger....) but I'll be staying with one of the gals from my pledge class. We look so young in this picture, huh!?!? I'm on the far left. I think I was 20 or 21 here and about 30 pounds thinner, and we must have been at a themed fraternity social, given our attire and the drinks in our hands. Can't remember what the dolls were all about!  The two girls in the middle I actually went to high school with as well.  Here's to old friends and good fun! Any fun plans yourself, this weekend?

409 Shots

1964 Ford Thunderbird
1964 Ford Thunderbird
Saturday I had an opportunity to both show my photography at a car show and shoot the show while I was there. For a car geek like myself, particularly classic cars (Barrett-Jackson auction, anyone?), this was heaven. It was fun being there during set up and listening to all the vroom, vrooms all up and down the street. The actual selling part was not very successful because I was off the beaten path—even with my super salesman father manning the booth—but I had a great time shooting the show.

When I got home, unpacked, showered and starting looking through my shots, I saw that I had taken 409 shots (it was a very big show!). Let me paint a little picture for you. See, when I’m shooting cars, I like to get down on their level, eye to eye, or eye to headlight in this case. So since I shot 409 photos, that meant that I squatted 409 times. Are you starting to get the picture here? Imagine doing 409 squats in one day. Oh my goodness, I could barely walk on Sunday. And stairs? No way. And I live in a three-story house! So as I pushed through the pain, walking, um crawling, up and down the stairs numerous times on Sunday doing laundry, Benny got a big kick out of the fact that it took me at least five minutes to navigate just one flight of stairs each time.

Yesterday was not much better, as I looked like a duck every time I had to walk across campus. Today I’m starting to walk a little better, but stairs are still rather painful, particularly coming down. I learned two things from this lesson: first, I guess I need to do more squats on a regular basis, and second, I probably don’t need to do 409 of them in one day. Here’s just one shot from the day. Now I need to get busy editing!

Wishes for the Future

Dandelions Wishes

Remember the dandelion picture below? Well, this is what happened two minutes later. :-) Olivia and I had such a lovely walk through my sister’s neighborhood that day. Sarah had decided to stay back at Kim’s house and play with the baby. As much as I love my girls together, I also love to find time to spend with them alone. We’ve started splitting up reading time in the evenings now. One night Sarah will read with me and Livvie with Benny, and then the next night we’ll switch. Only hard part is I’m missing bits and pieces of both The Fantastic Mr. Fox and James and the Giant Peach now! I want to hear all of both stories!

I came across a film trailer earlier this week that addressed how girls and women are often portrayed in today’s media. Wow. I knew that it was happening, but I just never saw it all put together quite like that. Very moving. I posted it on my sorority alumnae page and commented that we are all so much more than what our outward appearance shows to the world, and we need to teach that daily. I know I try to teach my girls that by encouraging their individuality, the special things each brings to this world, and their own individual awesomeness. Take a look at this video and let me know what you think. There are some troubling images in it, but unfortunately, it paints a very true picture of how the media often portray girls and women today.  The film is called Miss Representation.  It was a reminder for me that my wishes for my girls' future must start in how they view the world today...and how it views them.

Mix it Up Monday: Dandelion Wishes

Dandelion Wishes

We've had a rainy, dreary weekend here in North Florida, with a good old-fashioned, hard-rain packin' nor'easter bearing down on us all weekend. Benny and the girls and I were able to catch up on lots of "inside" projects and just be lazy. We watched The Lion King at least four times since we finally picked up the new DVD and the girls had never seen it before.  Love that movie.

I got some new jewelry made and did some photo editing. This picture is one from my trip up to see my sister in the DC area back in April over Easter weekend. I've titled it Dandelion Wishes. Later this week, I'll show you what Olivia did to this lovely little dandelion. :-)

How was your weekend?

October Free Bling!

October 2011 Free Bling

Time for my monthly Free Bling Friday giveaway! Random.org picked comment number 44 as the winner of my September Free Bling, so congratulations to Kara from New Ipswich, NH!

For October, how about a little fall foliage? This is my "Florida Flurries" photo created as a one inch glass tile pendant. I captured this picture in the 100 Acre Wood (our name for the Theodore Roosevelt National Recreation Area). 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 3. Want more entries? Tweet, blog or Facebook this giveaway and leave another comment with the link. The next winner will be drawn via random.org Friday, November 4.

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 specials. Thanks for stopping in!  Giveaway open to US and Canadian residents only.

Making Books with the Girlies: Olivia

Olivia's Book-Girls Play Day 4
Olivia's Front Cover
I mentioned in Sarah’s book post below that Livvie definitely likes to blaze her own trails when we’re making art. She’s always liked to do her own thing, but I wonder if in regards to art, this trait might be related to an art project that she was working on a couple of years ago. She questioned herself so much before she realized she really could do her own thing. I wrote about it here.

Olivia's Book-Girls Play Day 2
Olivia's Inside Front cover
Her book is an expression of our family. On the cover, she’s painted herself and her sister; I particularly love the curly hair she’s given Sarah. Inside the front cover are Molly and Isabelle, our dogs; inside the back cover are Tink and Savannah, our cats; and on the back cover are Benny and me. We are all in our own castles.

Olivia's Book-Girls Play Day 1
Olivia's Inside Back Cover
Raising twins is a very fascinating experience. My girls’ personalities and approaches to the world are so very different, yet they’ve been raised with the exact same experiences: same house, same parents, same teachers from day one. As I’ve shared with you here, Sarah’s becoming quite the fashion diva and loves to really stretch her fashion boundaries, yet when she’s making art, she follows very closely the steps that I’m taking. Olivia, on the other hand, is not as adventurous when it comes to getting dressed every morning, yet chooses to go in a completely different direction making art. I love their contradictions!

Olivia's Book-Girls Play Day 3
Olivia's Back Cover

Making Books with the Girlies: Sarah

Sarah's Book-Girls Play Day 2
Sarah's Front Cover
My girls have completely different approaches when it comes to make art with me. Olivia completely does her own thing. Sarah follows what I do step by step. Both methods have their merits because I know they are both learning something no matter which route they take. This is Sarah’s book from our booking making session. Look a tad familiar? (see my book in the previous post)

Sarah's Book-Girls Play Day 2
Sarah's Back Cover
With every step I took in creating my covers, Sarah did the same, just not necessarily in the same colors. I layed down a light colored spotted background; Sarah layed down a light colored spotted background. I used a stencil to add some acrylic paint in a fun pattern; Sarah used a stencil to add some acrylic paint in a fun pattern. I took another stencil and some spray ink and added another layer; Sarah took another stencil and some spray ink and added another layer. You get my drift?

Sarah's Book-Girls Play Day 1
Sarah's Spine
While Benny was out of town, we only finished our panels and didn’t do the signatures until later. When Benny got home, I had all our cover panels layed out on my book-making table, and I asked him to tell me who did what. “Well, these are definitely Olivia’s,” he said, pointing to Livvie’s two panels. Then looking more closely at the remaining four, he asked, “Sarah didn’t do any? These are all yours.” Nope, those weren’t all mine. :-) Two of them were Sarah’s. She’s definitely learning quickly. Now that she’s getting more confidence, I think she’ll break out with her own ideas pretty soon. Olivia's book is up next!

Mix it Up Monday: Making Books with the Girlies

Kelly's Book-Girls Day Play 2
Front Cover and Spine
Two weekends ago, Benny went to the Penn State/Alabama game, so the girlies and I had a weekend at home alone together. It's on these weekends that we like to tackle bigger projects, so this particular weekend, we made books.

Kelly's Book-Girls Day Play 4
Front Cover
This is my book. The covers are made from canvas board which I painted with acrylic paints and stenciled and sprayed with various inks. The spine is made from some leftover duck cloth I had laying around, and the signatures are made from Canson mixed media paper. I sewed the signatures in with a butterfly stitch using tan waxed linen thread.

Kelly's Book-Girls Day Play 3
Back Cover
The eyelash yarn is strictly for fun! I started with the tail at the top of the book and then wrapped the yarn through the center of each signature, tieing it back at the top. It adds that little bit of Kelly bling that I have to have in everything I do. :-)  I'll share Sarah's and Olivia's books with you later this week. They each want their own blog post!

Kelly's Book-Girls Day Play 1
Spine with eyelash yarn

The Importance of Not Taking Yourself Too Seriously

goofy Kelly

So, here I am in all my goofy glory. When I got home from work earlier this week, my girls decided they wanted to do a “makeover” on me. Olivia did the hair, and let me just say, it took her some time! Sarah did my makeup. It doesn’t really show up too well here, but trust me, I am all glittered up right fine and dandy. The makeover also included a foot massage with lotion and a manicure. I was not allowed to see myself until they were completely done, but I think the finished product speaks for itself. I look fabulous! They are currently taking new clients if you’d like to schedule an appointment.

I posted this picture on Facebook and received numerous comments. It’s now my new goofy profile pic. It got me to thinking about how many people would feel comfortable posting a picture like this, or any not so flattering or professional but otherwise entertaining photo, on a public site. I didn’t hesitate because, well, I’m goofy, and I’m just fine with that. Always have been and always will be. But I know that I’m connected to people on Facebook with whom I work that would be aghast at posting a picture like this. Why do you think that is?

I work in education, so yes, degrees are important and many of my colleagues list their degrees after their names in the signature lines of their emails. Great, if that’s your thing and you want the world to know it; you earned it, so more power to you. But I don’t, and when I think about it, I’d feel a little funny doing that. I have a Master of Arts in English degree, but that certainly doesn’t define me; it just affords me the opportunity to teach college English. I believe that what defines us is who we are at our core, and oftentimes that’s not what we present to the world. Maybe we should do that more often. Maybe if we did that, people might understand each other a little better and be more accepting of all the quirky differences that make us who we are as individuals in this big old blue world. Maybe we should worry less about what other people think about us and revel in the messiness that makes us uniquely us. Comes back to that daily dose of awesomeness I talked about in my last post. We all have a daily dose of awesomeness in us somewhere; sad sometimes that it takes crazyily dressed 3rd graders to remind us of that (and, yes, I just made up a word; I'm awesome that way). Go find your awesome and share it with the world.

Daily Dose of Awesomeness


My girls are becoming quite the little fashion plates, particularly Sarah. She's been coming up with some outfits lately that have definitely required some camera phone attention. I've been sending these pictures to my Facebook page, and earlier this week, my friend Brittany said the pictures remind her of this post from the Pig Tail Pals. I hadn't seen the post before, but it is most definitely awesome. Be sure to take a peek.

My girls certainly help me with my daily dose of awesome. This morning, Sarah was standing in the bathroom with me watching me apply my makeup, and she said, "Mama, why do you wear makeup? You are just as pretty without it." Great way to start your day, huh!? But I think it's important that we all find own individual dose of everyday awesome, too, something external from our kids. I've definitely always been a pretty easy going girl, and you know I live by the philosophy that happiness is a choice, so why can't awesomeness be a choice, too? Let's all choose to be awesome, every day, in our own special ways. All it takes is a little change in perspective.  So tell me about your awesomeness! 

Gallery Opening Tonight! Wheels!

1955 Red and White Chevrolet Belair

I am blessed to have another solo gallery show starting tonight! It's been in the works for about a month but I just haven't remembered to share it with you here (been a little crazy in my world...). The show is called "Wheels," and I'm including a selection of my Harvey Car Collection and my Classic Chrome collection. The opening is tonight in the Kent Campus Gallery, from 6pm-8pm, and the show runs through September 27. I'm thrilled to have been asked to share my work.  :-)    

Remembering and Teaching

9/11 Rembrance Program
Terry Greene, me, and our campus president Dr. Margarita Cabral-Maly
All this week I’ve been trying to explain to my girls what happened 10 years ago today. We had our campus remembrance program on Wednesday, and I invited our speaker, Terry Greene, to have dinner with us Wednesday night. We invited Terry to speak at the College as a representative of the organization Peaceful Tomorrows, which is comprised of family members of those lost on 9/11. Terry lost her brother Donnie on Flight 93 that went down in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Her story was touching, but more touching was her take on what happened that day, and everything that’s happened since. The members of Peaceful Tomorrows came together because of their shared belief that the response to what happened that day was not more violence, but rather a fight for peace. We thoroughly enjoyed our dinner with Terry at our house, not as the family member of someone who lost a brother on that day, but just as another interesting, loving human being who enjoyed casual conversation over a plate of spaghetti.

Old Glory at our house
Our house proudly displaying Old Glory today
This certainly wasn’t a first, by any means, as Benny has gotten used to me bringing home random musicians, speakers and performers for dinner over the years, but something about our dinner with Terry Wednesday night was different than the rest. We didn’t talk much about what brought her to Jacksonville and our dinner table. Really the only time the subject came up was when we told her about Benny’s plan to travel up to Happy Valley for the Penn State/Alabama game this weekend. Terry had already received news from her state representative that her travel over to Shanksville for the 10th anniversary memorial service might be hampered by flooding in the area; that same flooding might have affected Benny’s travels. I think what made it different goes back to Terry’s outlook on life. Every one of us faces loss at some point in our lives. We lose loved ones to cancer; we lose loved ones to car accidents; we lose loved ones to suicide; we lose loved ones to the natural course of life. Terry lost a loved one that day, as did about 3,000 other families, to essentially what comes down to politics, religion and hate, and her view on that loss touched me deeply. She’s not angry or vengeful, and never has been, and she chooses to remember her happiest days with her brother rather than the day she lost him. So instead of being angry, she’s hopeful; she’s hopeful for a better tomorrow for her children and mine. I hope that my girls can learn from that.

The girls with members of Fire Station 37 crew
The girls with the firemen from Station 37
Today at 8:46am, the time the first plane hit the first tower 10 years ago today, the girls and I were hanging our beautiful American flag off of the front porch. The flag was Benny’s grandfather’s, who was a veteran of WWII, so I thought it fitting to use today. After that, we took a batch of brownies we baked yesterday to one of our local fire stations to say thank you to the firemen and first responders for their service. The firemen and I talked about how difficult it is to explain what happened on this day to children, particularly those who weren’t even born on this day 10 years ago. But they are our future, and they are our hope. So in our way, and in a way they can understand, it’s our responsibility to remember and to help them learn. A batch of brownies for a group of firemen miles and miles away from where tragedy struck that day was my girls first step in gaining that understanding.

Indian Summers and Summer Memories...

Indian Summer earrings

Benny and I are long-time fans of CBS’ Sunday Morning, and watching that show every now and then is a treasured Sunday morning, laying-around-in-your-pj’s activity around here. This morning Charles Osgood reminded us that Labor Weekend figuratively symbolizes the end of summer. And I guess while it may mean the kids are back in school, it’s certainly not the end of summer here in Florida. Ours runs through, oh, sometimes November! But I’m not complaining; I’m a Florida girl through and through.

This weekend, in between being lazy with the family watching Looney Tunes cartoon marathons, I’ve been working on updating my website and my Etsy shop with the pieces I’ve been working on for my fall shows, like these Indian Summer earrings. As I mentioned back in this post, I’ve cut back on my shows quite a bit this year. This fall, I’m only set for two right now! I may pop in a couple Riverside Arts Market days here and there, but I’m only on the road for arts festivals twice this fall, late September in Deland and early November in Daytona. In between, I'm looking forward to some family time and a little bit of Florida State football squeezed in around work travel.

So as we sort of say goodbye to summer on this long holiday weekend, what’s been your favorite summer memory this summer? Mine happened just a couple weeks ago with our annual visit to Aunt Livy.

Tuesday Treasury Shoutout: Moonlight Photography and fPOE

Etsy Treasury 8/23/11

A big shout out thank you to Deborah of moonlightphotography for including one of my classic cars series in this gorgeous purple themed treasury. There I am first row, first spot with my 1946 purple Ford Coupe! This treasury also includes quite a few lovely ladies of the Female Photographer's of Etsy team. Click here to visit this treasury and be sure to check out all the items and Deborah's gorgeous work.

First Day of Third Grade!

First Day 3rd grade

Okay, so yes, the first day of third grade was LAST Monday, but that's just how behind I am! The girls had a great first week.  Livvie was a little more nervous than Sarah, but once she got through the first day, they both did really well the rest of the week.  Now if I can only get them to warm up to the idea of taking the bus to school in the morning that would save me 30 minutes every morning, and it stops right at our driveway!  Wish me luck.  Today we had the first day of classes at the College, so it's been a busy day...and a busy couple of weeks, but I hope to get back to more regularly checking in with you soon. I have lots of new jewelry and photos to share with you! Have a great week.

The Difference in a Year

Aunt Livy Kelly and Girls-72

This past week has been my usual week off with my girls before school starts. It’s always proceeded by our annual trip up to the Chattanooga area to visit my great Aunt Livy for her birthday. This year she hit the big 9-0. It’s an eight hour drive one way and a relatively short trip, but worth every minute of the drive for Aunt Livy. I adore my Aunt Livy; she’s been my rock for as long as I can remember. She taught me how to play poker when I was seven, and according to my husband, how to cheat (he’s a very sore loser). She shared with me her love of photography, and her love of animals, dachsunds in particular. And she’s been my history, our family storyteller.

This year, for the first time, I heard the weariness in her voice. After we took the picture above, I sat down next to her and just talked quietly for a few minutes, asking her how she’s really feeling. And for the first time, she told me she’s finally feeling her age, and she feels like her body is breaking down. That literally broke my heart. I know the day will come when I no longer have her in my life here on Earth, and Lord knows, I’ve been dreading that day but I’m just not ready for it yet. Each year when we say goodbye, I say a prayer that I’ll see her same time next year, and drive away with tears in my eyes. You can read more about Aunt Livy in some of these posts.

Girls with Colored Tongues-72

After our visit, spending the week with the girls at home was just what I needed. We truly accomplished nothing more than just hanging out. And it was just what we needed! We cut up several Glamour magazines and made funny little collages, we went to the beach twice, we ran errands, we ate out at our favorite lunch spot, and we drove up to the Gate station every afternoon for an Icee. A perfect summer week. I took the picture above of the girls while we were in Chattanooga, sharing their Icee tongues. I took the picture below last year while on the same trip. What a difference a year makes! And tomorrow is the first day of third grade!

Sarah and Livvie 2010-72