iHanna's Annual Postcard Swap!

Postcard swap 2013-2
I'm participating in iHanna's annual postcard swap again this year.  I'm behind as usual, but I finally got these out in the mail this week, off to swappers all over the globe! I've already received a few myself from as far away as Sweden.  Once mine all arrive, I'll scan them all and share with you here.
Since I was pressed for time, here's how I did mine. I started out with a large sheet of watercolor paper and brushed water all over it. Then I sprayed it with spray inks in coordinating colors, picked it up and dripped it around a bit, and then layed another sheet of watercolor paper on top. I then pulled up the top sheet, leaving color on both sheets. Then I sprinkled kosher salt all over each sheet and let them dry. Then those sheets stayed like that, laying out on my work bench to dry, for, oh, about a week. No, it doesn't take a week to dry. It just took me that long to get back to them! I cut them down to 4"x6", and then when I was at Michael's with the girls this weekend, I spotted these cool tree stickers and got an idea. I found the cloud stickers, added some washi tape and some scribbles, and viola, done.
  Postcard swap 2013-1

Best Shot Monday: Playgroups!


We've officially started playgroups at the shelter! When I went in for portraits Friday morning, I wasn't able to get nearly as much done as I usually do because I was too distracted by the playgroups. They are so much fun to watch! Imagine 20-25 dogs all out romping around together...especially shelter dogs, who are stuck in a four foot by eight foot cage most of the time. Their excitement and joy to be able to be out in the sunshine enjoying each others' company was screaming out from their happy faces and wagging tails. I just couldn't resist this foursome watching me through the fence. They are straight out of the Little Rascals, and they also demonstrate the variety of dogs that can be found at your local animal shelter!  Think about adding a new furry friend to your family this holiday season, and rescue a shelter dog or cat!

A Little Postcard Art Happiness

Wyanne postcard

I've been making some mail art to send off to friends today. This happy little postcard will be making its way to a friend battling cancer. Send her your prayers!

Best Shot Monday: Tulip and T.A.I.L.S.


Meet Tulip! She's a Treeing Walker Hound.  Isn't she gorgeous? And she has a sweet, loving temperment. We've seen quite a few hounds in the shelter the past few months. It's unfortunate that some hunters will train hounds to use during hunting season and then dump them when hunting season is over. Tulip here is a prime example that your local shelter has a variety of wonderful breeds waiting for good homes. 

We also have a new program at the shelter that dogs like Tulip and many others are now participating in. It's called Teaching Animals and Inmates Life Skills. Through a partnership with First Coast No More Homeless Pets (FCNMHP), Jacksonville Animal Care and Protective Services (JACPS), Jacksonville Humane Society, and the state of Florida correctional system, shelter dogs are placed in correctional facilities to be trained and socialized so they have a better chance of finding a new permanent home through the TAILS program. FCNMHP transports them to one of three rural minimum security facilities in Northeast Florida: the Lawtey Correctional Institution, the Union Correctional Institution, and the Baker Correctional Institution. Each dog is assigned to three prisoners so the dog won’t bond to just one person and will learn to respond to a variety of voices and personalities. Once matched with a dog, the inmates are fully responsible for the dog’s care: feeding, grooming, housebreaking, and obedience training. FCNMHP provides a trainer who instructs the inmates and correction staff how to work with and train a dog. The dog is with at least one inmate 24 hours a day. One of our staff members goes to each facility weekly to observe and troubleshoot any problems. The dogs will stay at the prison for nine to ten weeks.

At the end of the program, the dogs will be crate trained, know basic commands, such as “sit” and “stay,” walk on a leash and generally be well-mannered. Upon their graduation, a new set of canine students will arrive to be trained. The TAILS program benefits both the dogs and their trainers. The dogs going through this program will be much more adoptable, and the inmates will have developed skills in animal training and behavior. TAILS has one additional benefit: for each dog in the program, two canine lives are saved. Placing a dog in the prison means that space opens up in the shelter for another dog that might have been euthanized for lack of space!  Such an outstanding program!

Monster Art

Livvie Monster

Is this not the cutest little monster you've ever seen? Olivia made this in art class and brought it home to me yesterday. Love this little guy! She was so proud of it. She's always seen Sarah as more "artsy," but I think she finally felt like with this piece, she found her place. I'm looking forward to a whole family of monster art!

Time November Free Bling Friday!

November 2012 bling

Time for November Free Bling Friday!  Random.org picked comment number 11 for October, so congratulations to Anna from southern Louisiana for winning my October Free Bling.

Can you believe it's November already?  That means December and Christmas are just around the corner!  So for November, here's a sweet little pendant I created with a vintage image of good ole St. Nick. The pendant is one inch square and will come complete with a silver ball chain. To enter, visit either of my Etsy sites (here for jewelry and here for photography) and leave a link to your favorite item in the comments along with your location and a way to reach you by midnight Thursday, December 5. 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 6, just in time to wear for the Christmas holidays.  Giveaway open to United States and Canada residents only.

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 like my Facebook page or sign up for my monthly newsletter on my website here for specials. Thanks for stopping in!

Best Shot Monday: Nags Head Flowers

Nags Head Flowers

One of the classes I took while at Serendipity was a photography class with Kate Inglis. Kate covered quite a bit of technical information the first couple hours of the class, really stuff that I learned way back when I took photography classes in college. But there were so many great reminders! When I photograph at the shelter, I'm not able to get very creative with my photography simply because I have to work so quickly. I can only keep the dogs' attention so long! And Lord help me if I'm working with the cats!

One of the things Kate reminded me of though is the magic you can create using different aperture settings. She shared with us that despite all the photography purists who say that "you must always shoot in manual to be a real photographer," you really don't have to do that. Apeture mode gives you lots of options! So this photo was taken in aperture mode, with a 35mm fixed lens set on 2.0 aperture. Believe or not, this is straight out of the camera and there was a garbage can in the background! But thanks to the incredibly shallow depth of field achieved with a 2.0 aperture, the background just fades away. Thanks for teaching me new tricks and reminding me of all the things I've forgotten about, Kate!   

The Moments Wrap Up

Girls with boots in class with Melody Ross at Serendipity. I'm the hearts with wings.

Since I've been traveling so much since October 23, I finished out the Moments Challenge over on Instagram and Flickr, but I did want to share one more shot from the challenge here! These were all the girls in boots in our class with Melody Ross at Serendipity. I'm the heart with wings boots lower left.  More about the retreat to come this week!