Mix It Up Monday: Looking Up

I took this photo at Artful Journey last year and first shared it with you here.  I played around with a little Photoshop magic to alter the photo to what you see here now.  Have you visited Kim Klassen?  She shares the most wonderful Photoshop tips and tricks as well as free textures that she creates.  This piece includes the free texture she shared this past week as well as another layer of text I've added in for good measure.  There is soooooo much to learn when playing with textures in Photoshop.  What do you think?  I'd appreciate your feedback.  Be sure see the original so you can see the difference.  I've popped it up in my Etsy shop to see how it does.

So, I guess I haven't told you yet, huh?  I'm going back to Artful Journey this year!!!!  I actually leave two weeks from this Thursday (408 hours from now, but who's counting).  This year I'm taking Albie Smith's class.  Her classroom was right next to DJ's last year, so I got to walk over and take a peek every now and then.  Yummy color...  You can read about last year's trip in these posts.  Just a tad excited... :-)

Sketchbook Project Fun Journal: Day 10

Day 10

Were you a Sesame Street kid?  I know I'm dating myself here, but I LOVED Sesame Street as a kid.  And I was so excited when I was able to introduce Sesame Street to my girls.  It gave me an excuse to watch all those old clips from when I was kid.  Sesame Street premiered in 1969.  I was four, and I still remember so many of the characters from those early days.  So, of course, when I came to page 10 in my Fun Journal, the very first thing that popped in my head was "10!!!! Chocolate!!!! Layer Cakes!!!!"  Come on, you guys of a certain age....you know you remember it. Go back and relive it; I promise the song will be stuck in your head for weeks. :-)  Here's the clip.

Mix It Up Monday: For the Love of a Girl

I received an email from a former student of mine with a request for a custom bracelet (yes, I keep in touch with quite a few of my former students!).  This was a Valentines Day present AND a birthday present since his wife's birthday falls on Valentines Day. Talk about pressure!  He told me he wanted one of my bling bracelets with just white pearls and clear glass, along with two charms: a heart and a little boy.  I played around with it a bit and was not happy with the all white combo (you know how I love color), so I pulled some sandy mother of pearl nuggets out of my stash and things started comely together quite nicely.  I was so happy with the way the finished piece came together, I created a second one without the special charms and listed it in my shop. Thankfully, my customer was also thrilled with the results. Thanks Kevin! 

Flashback Friday: Perceptions

I got an email from my father with the subject line “This is our old house!” I looked at this picture but didn’t recognize the house, so I asked him the address. He couldn’t remember the address but said it was the one by the old Levitz and the arch in North Miami; we lived there through my elementary school years. I immediately emailed back with, “17045 N.W. 11th Avenue, 305-620-0367. I remember the house being pale yellow with a big tree in the front yard.” Dad said that, yes, it had been yellow with a big tree in the front yard. I remember that Dad’s boat was always parked on the trailer on the side of the house where that car sits now. It was a pale blue boat with a large number 44 painted on the side. Dad was a daredevil, racing both boats and motorcycles when I was a kid, probably why speed is still in my blood today. My friend Timmy lived two doors down, and my best friend Terri lived around the block. My mom and dad were good friends with Carol and Wally across the street; they had children, too, but I can’t remember their names. They were even younger than I. Dad was down in Miami on business, and when he saw that old arch, he became curious about the old neighborhood and found the house. That address was the opening line of this emotionally raw essay.

It’s fascinating to me how our perceptions change as we grow up. When I was a child, that house seemed huge! But thinking back now and seeing this picture, obviously it was quite small. Dad said it was about 800-900 square feet, three bedrooms, one bath. I remember there being a Magnolia tree in the corner of the back yard. I think the tree in the front yard was a Magnolia as well. Based on this little house, I guess we didn’t have much money growing up, but I clearly remember that I never lacked for anything I needed in those days. My mom was a nurse and my dad worked more than one job while going to school at night; they were twenty when they were married in May and I was born in December of the same year. It wasn’t until I grew up that I realized that math didn’t work out quite right. :-)

There was an elementary school at the end of our street, but because of the times and busing in Miami in an effort to better integrate schools, we weren’t districted for that school. I was to ride the bus to a school on the other side of town. Instead, my parents put me in a private Christian school closer to home, where I was sent home more than once, a tomboy rebelling against the “dress” code by wearing pants. My sister was also born in Miami, but then we moved to St. Petersburg before she was a year old. We were in St. Pete for two years before my parents divorced, and Mom, Kim and I moved here to the Jacksonville area to be near my Nana and Granddaddy.

My girls and I were driving through “the old neighborhood” a while back, and I showed them the house their daddy lived in when we met and where we lived together for six and a half years. “It’s so small!” they both said. It was about 1,000 square feet, three bedrooms, one bath, built in the ‘50s, a cute little concrete rancher in a neighborhood that has now experienced its own share of neglect. Once we were ready to get started building our current home, we put that house up for sale on a Friday, and I went over to Tallahassee for a football game. When I got back that Sunday, DH had already sold the house. We didn’t expect things to happen quite that quickly! Luckily, DH’s daddy’s house was vacant at the time, so we were able to move in there, the very house DH was born and raised in. It was about the size and age of my childhood house, and we lived there for the nearly year and a half it took us to build our home.

I think of my perception of my house when I was in elementary school and wonder what my girls think now. Our house is not overly large by any means, especially when I think about the houses my mother and her third husband lived in and the homes of many of my friends, but yes, we are blessed to have a river in the back yard. It’s interesting for me to see how my girls react to the houses of their friends. They have commented that their friends’ houses are smaller than ours…but they’ve also commented that their friends have “soooo many toys!!!” Maybe that’s perception, too, a perception on what’s really needed. In their friends’ houses, yes, there are lots and lots and lots of toys. Here at our house, sure, the girls have some toys, but we try our best not to give in to every new toy on the market and instead encourage playing outside, making art, playing games together, and playing with the toys they already have. They always have their favorites anyways, don’t they (and the piano makes a great fort)? They do not have any video games and we limit their TV and computer time. I don’t remember having a lot of toys. But I do remember always being outside playing, whether in the back yard, over with Timmy, around the block with Terri, or a combination of all the above.

I know you’ve probably heard that old saying about wanting more for your kids than you had as a kid. I wonder if in these days of excess and social media overload if that line of thinking can be a slippery slope. Maybe going back to those simpler days of no internet, no video games, fewer toys and more time playing outside is what our kids, and we, really need. That’s where memories are made.

Visit Tia's blog for more Friday flashbacks.

Tuesday Treasury Shoutout: Ewaldronyuhas and LeslieN

etsy treasury
Aren't these gorgeous!  Thanks so much to ewaldronyuhas for including me in the treasury above (second row, second spot) and LeslieN for including me in the treasury below (second row, second spot).  These are stunning collections and I'm honored to be included.  Thanks ladies!  Go take a peek at their shops and click on the treasury links to view them on Etsy with clickable links to all items.

etsy treasury

Mix It Up Monday: Accordian Book (and a little painting...)

Ever get something stuck in your head that just won't go away until you give it a go?  That's what prompted this little accordian book.  I've never made an accordian book before. Okay, let's be frank!  The only real book I've ever made is the book I created at Artful Journal last February under the tutelage of the amazing D.J. Pettitt. Awesome book, yes!  Have I tried anything since?! No!  But I definitely now have the book bug.  I was completely going on a whim with this one, but I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out for a first try (and very little patience).

I used one 18" x 24" piece of Canson mixed media paper and cut it down into four equal strips. Then I folded each of those accordian-style and attached them all together.  The book covers are map scrap covered pieces of smooth cardboard I kept from one of my photo bag shipments (proving product packaging often makes great art supplies!).  The spine is a piece of duck cloth I cut from some scraps I had left over from making the sleeves in which I keep my large framed photo pieces that I use for my booth.  The maps....well, I will admit to a map addiction.  It's one of the handful of things that keep me addicted to eBay...along with vintage postcards, vintage Life and Saturday Evening Post magazines (searching through those for great old ads is a wonderful treasure hunt), and vintage children's books.  Oh, and of course, then there are beads (bad, bad Kelly...).  The ribbon is from my burgeoning, barely closing ribbon drawer.  This little book is in the mail to a friend as a surprise.

So that painting in the background?  That's from a class I'm taking from my lovely friend Wyanne called Paint Free.  To preserve the integrity of the class, I can't tell you what our assignment was, but this little painting is my result.  All I'll say is we were given a very limited time frame!  Not that having any more time would have made much difference in my case.  I was ready to stop early because I felt like the colors were getting muddied together too much.  In any case, in the event you can't see the resemblance, it turned into my rendition of our 100 Acre Wood, where we head for some fresh air and a good hike every Saturday or Sunday morning.  I'm really enjoying Wyanne's class!  Click here for previous Mix It Up Mondays.  Some still available!

Flashback Friday: Old Friends

The girlies and the lovely bride
Thought I’d give Flashback Friday a whirl! This past Saturday, my girls were the flower girls in my childhood friend Maria’s wedding. Though these pictures are not a flashback, the story behind them certainly is. Maria and I have known each other for as long as I can remember, since we were about four years old. Before my parents divorced when I was 12, I spent about a month every summer with my Nana and Granddaddy in Orange Park. Nana and Granddaddy moved there from NAS Key West when Granddaddy got transferred to NAS Jacksonville (NAS is Navy lingo for Naval Air Station for those of you not familiar; this post includes a childhood picture of my mom on the base in Key West). Maria was a neighborhood kid. There we were…kids…summer…one month…with the freedom and safety kids had back then.

Maria and me
Maria lived across the street and two doors down from Nana and Granddaddy. Directly across the street from Nana and Granddaddy was Sheila. To the left of Sheila was Ricky. To the right was Ted. Two doors down from Ted was Marlynn. Next door to Nana and Granddaddy were the Gilleys, with six kids. Maria, Sheila, Ricky, Ted, Marlynn and I were all the exact same age, and the Gilley kids were all in our age range. I remember that gang and all our times together so clearly. We were the Capella Lane gang. We are all over that neighborhood on our bikes. There used to be a swimming hole at the end of the road one street up, and we’d find our way back there pretty often. It’s funny…I’ve tried to find where that swimming hole was as I got older but I could never figure out how we got back there. Development got in the way.

The girls and their handsome Daddy
Maria, Ricky and I probably spent the most time together. I remember spending the night with Maria all the time. Either her older brother Joe or her dad, I can’t remember which, played the accordian, and he’d keep us up playing that thing. And her younger brother John used to drive us crazy, as younger brothers did. Her mom, Rose, was, and still is, one of the sweetest ladies I’ve ever known. I spent some time with her at the reception catching up. Ricky was such a cutie, and like Miss Rose, his parents, Miss Judy and Mr Steve, considered me one of their own. I remember one particular bicycle crash…Ricky and the Gilley boys were encouraging me and Maria to ride down the big hill next to Maria’s house; they were at the bottom of the hill watching for cars, egging us on to build up as much speed as we could. I got near the bottom, flying, panicked, hit the brakes and seriously wiped out. Major crash…busted up knees and elbows…surprised to this day that I didn’t break anything. And did I go home to Nana’s? Heck no! Ricky dragged me to Miss Judy to fix me up. Nana was well accustomed to my clumsiness…which I also have to this day (as does my Olivia, but that’s a whole other seventeen stories).

When my parents split up, things happened very quickly. I was in school in St. Pete on Thursday; and then all the sudden I was in school in Orange Park on Monday, but I had a little help from the Man upstairs with my transition. I remember so clearly walking into that 7th grade classroom for the first time in the middle of the day. I immediately heard someone shout my name. It was Ricky. Maria was in the classroom next door. Talk about the grace of God… They were my anchors.

Maria and I lost contact with each other for a little while after high school and during her first marriage. Miss Rose and Nana stayed close neighbors though, so we were at least able to keep tabs on each other. We found each other again through Facebook, of course, and I was honored when she asked me if my girls could be in her wedding. I’m still in contact with Ricky and Marlynn, but we’ve lost track of the rest of them. My Nana’s gone now, and my uncle lives in her house. And every once in a while, I still go back to the old neighborhood to have Miss Jeannie cut my hair. She’s cut it since I was a kid! Even when I went away to college, I’d come back home for haircuts! Now she’s more of a sweet connection to my past than my regular stylist.

I think about that old gang and all the fun we had, and I feel a little sad that we don’t have that kind of neighborhood for my girls. We live on a busy street (essentially A-1-A), so riding bikes with a bunch of neighborhood kids is out of the question. It’s play dates on the weekend for the girls instead. And I’m so thankful God blessed me with twins so that they have each other. Being a part of Maria’s big day reminded me how strong those early bonds can be if you continue to nourish them. I hope that forty years from now, my girls are still friends with some of their childhood friends.  Flashback Friday headquarters are over at Tia's blog.

Sketchbook Project Fun Journal: Day 9

Day 9

Slowing working through sharing my Fun Journal pages with you. This is Day 9. This was the day of our campus holiday party, and I was asked to sing and lead some carols. I decided that if I was going to have to sing, I was going to make it fun, so I recruited a Santa-looking friend on campus and we put together a little skit, me singing the classic “Santa Baby” and he playing a sarcastic Santa. For each verse of the song I sang to him, he held up a random sign, like “Not a chance,” “She’s been a very bad girl,” “Wallet’s empty,” etc. We had a great time!  I can be a ham if I'm not on stage alone!  I thought it would make a fun journal page. Here’s the original recording by Eartha Kitt. I was surprised to find that on You Tube!

The background paper and tree are cut from some Christmas scrapbook paper I had left over from the Christmas tags I made last year. Helps to be a pack rat! From there I just did a little stamping, added a few lyrics, smudged around some oil pastels, and there you have it. It’s probably the thickest spread in my book because all the papers used are card stock weight.  Now that I've let go of the idea of turning my book in, I'm enjoying playing in it more and more.  What are you working on these days?

Mix It Up Monday: Blue Agate and Pottery Chard Necklace

I tried to share this with you last Monday, but the weather just was not cooperating for jewelry photography.  I finally got some photography done today, so you'll see new pieces in my shop this week!  Here's a new piece for you that's a bit different from my signature style, so it's perfect for Mix It Up Monday.  I truly have enough beads and such to open my own bead shop, so I'll be sharing some different jewelry for Mix It Up Mondays. 

I created this one with some pretty blue agate nuggets I've had for a while and a pottery chard pendant I've had for an even longer while (I actually have about a dozen of these in various colors, so I'll be creating more of these pieces!).  You can find it along with more pictures here.  These are priced to move ($35!) so hop on over there!  I also created a second one in the same color scheme, which you can find here.

Time for January Free Bling

Time for Free Bling Friday! Random.org picked comment number 27 as the winner of December's Free Bling, so congratulations to Sharon from Washington, DC!

For January, how about a springy print to brighten up what can be a dreary month?  This is my C'est La Vie Susan photograph; find it here in my Etsy shop.  I captured this shot over in the panhandle of Florida on my way to Apalachicola, one of my favorite small towns to poke around in.  Should you win this month, you'll receive this print as a 5 x 5 matted and signed to 8 x 8. 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, February 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, February 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 Fan specials. Thanks for stopping in!

Sketchbook Project Fun Journal: Day 8

Day 8

Since I've accepted the fact that there is no chance in H-E-double hockey sticks I'm going make the January 11 Sketchbook Project mail deadline, I've decided to slow down a bit!  What's the rush, right!? I was starting to realize that once I finished the book, I wasn't going to want to give it up anyway.  :-) 

Here's page eight. The girls and I spent a day going through magazines cutting out images (did I tell you I am a magazine addict?), and Olivia spotted this heart-shaped leaf and gave it to me.  I love purple and green together, so the purple was a must.  I started the background with pink chalk ink and then covered it with purple acrylic paint smeared around with my fingers.  The harlequins are a wood mounted rubber stamp in a pale taupe chalk ink, and the green hearts are from a hand made Alisa Burke stamp.  The smaller dragonfly is a wood mounted stamp, and the larger dragonfly is a foam stamp.  The Live Love Laugh and the flourishes are also wood mounted stamps.  I much prefer foam stamps since they are so easy to clean!  I accented with black and white Sharpie paint pens. I have become addicted to Sharpie paint pens...

Two For Tuesday Treasury Shoutout: JeniLuScraps, BeadLoversKorner and FEST


Today's first Tuesday Treasury Shout Out goes to Georgi of JeniLuScraps of the Florida Etsy Street Team (FEST).  Georgi included one my pendants (second row, third spot) in this pretty blue and green treasury featuring FEST team members.  View the full treasury with clickable links here

1-4-11 happyshackdesigns and fest 2

And how about this gorgeous purple themed treasury, also featuring FEST team members.  Thanks to Gari Anne of BeadLoversKorner for including my in this one (third row, first spot).  Visit the treasury with clickable links here (I'm lusting after the clam shell pendant) and check out the FEST blog here!

Happy New Year with Mix It Up Monday

Happy New Year!  I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and are looking forward to a fulfulling new year.  I'm typically not one for New Year's resolutions, but I do have a couple goals I'm working on.  First is my annual purge and organize spree.  Once the Christmas decorations come down and the house is cleaned back up, I'm always ready to go through the closets and the toys and take things to consignment and Goodwill.  Start the year with less stuff! 

Another of my goals is to share more of the "other" art I create here at the Happy Shack.  So, each Monday here on the blog, I'm going to post some sort of new work.  And I'll definitely be mixing it up!  My Monday posts may be photography, mixed media, fabric art, jewelry that branches away from my signature style, handmade books....who knows!  One reason for this is to push myself to try new things; another reason is to work through the excessive amount of supply stash I have!  I had hoped to share a new piece of jewelry with you today, but yesterday's weather did not allow for any new jewelry photography.  So to kick things off (and in the vein of getting a little better organized), here's a new photo I just listed in my Etsy shop.  I actually captured this shot in February 2010 while in California for Artful Journey. That tells you how far behind I am on posting new photography work!

Any New Year's resolutions for you?