The Documented Life: Weeks 14-16

I'm woefully behind on my Documented Life project, but I have a plan to catch up! Here are Weeks 14-16. 
 Week 14-Kelly

Week 14 was to write your name and embellish it. My tip in for this week was a piece of scrapbook paper, so I thankfully had a good background to start with. I used one of Roben-Marie's Art Pops cards and added my name in a variety of alphabet letters, embellishing with other stickers and washi tape.

Week 14-Kelly

This was the week I lost my sweet blind girl Savannah, so I featured her prominently on the journaling pages. This was also the first week I tried Roben-Marie's tutorial for creating the inside pages, which I loved! I hadn't thought of putting paint all over the place. I was afraid it wouldn't work on those thin pages, but it worked very well!

Week 14-Kelly

Week 15-Kelly

Week 15 called for going monochromatic, using shades, tints and hues of one color. I went with pink. (Shocking, right?) I like to pull fun graphics out of magazines, so that's where the Grow Love came from. I've cut out that ad twice now, but don't ask me what it's advertising because I can't remember!

Week 15-Kelly

I still need to add some journaling to the inside of Week 15.

Week 16-Kelly

Week 16's challenge was to use a cardbood food box or tray in a creative way. Well, my greatest food weakness on this earth is Girl Scout Do-Si-Do cookies. It's truly very sad. During cookie season, I buy what I think is a reasonable amount for our family. This year I initially bought one case of Do-Si-Do's. Well, those were gone way too fast, but alas, our troop was out of them and I couldn't find any more anywhere! I was I went to eBay. Yes, my friends, I bought a case of Do-Si-So's from a cookie mom on eBay. And then my friend Dan, whose wife Christy must also be a cookie mom, brought me another nearly full case. That was in February. Out of all that, I only have five boxes left.

Week 16-Kelly

I still need to add some journaling to the inside of Week 16. Undoubtedly it will be about sailing away on a large cruise ship full of Do-Si-Do's. The redheads are just as behind as I am, but they want to catch up with me. Hopefully I will be sharing more of their pages soon! Oh, and for my catch up plan...every week now, I'm doing the current week's challenge and one catch-up challenge. That's the plan anyways...

See other posts from the Documented Life project here

Best Shot Monday: Friends and Strangers Project, Dana

Meet my lovely friend Dana. Dana and I met more than twenty years ago when we both started working at the college. Dana was a counselor at the time and has since switched over to teaching psychology full-time. Unfortunately, she's now on another campus, so we don't get to see each other as much. Over the years, we have bonded over our love of art and animals. That's her sweet girl Faith in the picture with her.

We have very different personalities, but I think it's those differences that keep us close. We have different ways of viewing the world and the day to day trials of life. Being a psychologist, Dana is far more analytical than I am and is much better at digging deep into her thoughts and analyzing why she feels a certain way or why things may be happening the way they are happening. Me, I've never been much of an analyzer; I'm pretty much a "it is what it with it" kind of girl. Given that, I think she's able to help me analyze when I need to, and I'm able to help her take a step back and just accept what is without the analysis when she needs to!

Last fall, we went on an art retreat up to the Outer Banks of North Carolina together. When Dana discovered Serendipity online, there were just two spots left. She decided that was fate and called me to say we needed to go. Even with the retreat scheduled for the Alabama/Tennessee game weekend, Benny agreed that we needed to go (we do have our football priorities around here). We had such a wonderful trip. We took one class together (Melody Ross) and then one class separately (Dana took Hannah Marcotti and I took Kate Inglis). As we shared our day after our separate class, Dana said she had to hold back laughs several times throughout the day thinking "Oh my, how Kelly would hate this exercise..." Hannah's class was filled with the type of deep introspection that Dana is great at, the same type of deep introspection I have no patience for!

We also had a full day just to play and explore, and since we planned to hit all the antique and vintage shops we could find that day, Benny was concerned with what we'd come home with. After all, we intentially took Sally (my extended wheel base minivan) with the back seats removed so that we'd have plenty of room to bring home whatever treasures we found. Dana was on the hunt for a carousel horse, which we didn't find. I was on the hunt for an old door, which now sits proudly in the corner of my living room with a brightly lit star hanging on it. I so very clearly remember Benny walking over to the van when we got home, looking in the back and saying, "Why is there an old door in the back of the van?" Now, Benny is fully in support of me trading Sally in for a smaller vehicle, you know, for the better gas mileage...

These days, Dana and I make time to get together for lunch dates, art play dates, and wandering through antique shops, some of my favorite things to do. And usually the redheads join us. They love when "Miss Dana" comes over to play. Thank you, Dana, for all these years of special friendship. I look forward to many, many more!

Click here for more Friends and Strangers Project posts. I wrote about what I learned at Serendipity here.

What We Learn From Fostering...

Foster Bella 6-14-14
We're still fostering kittens for Animal Care and Protective Services pretty regularly here at the Happy Shack, and because of it, I've become very adept at doing laundry or cleaning up my studio with a kitten or two on my shoulders. It's such a good learning experience for the girls, and I admit, I love having those little fur balls around. They are the perfect stress relievers after a long day at work. But sometimes the learning hurts, and the stress is magnified rather than relieved. See that sweet little baby above? We named her Bella. And we lost her.

I picked up Bella and her sister Zoey (below), Wednesday, June 25. They were tiny, less than two weeks old and about five ounces, but they were eating wet food. But by Thursday evening, I was concerned they weren't eating enough, so I picked up some kitten formula and bottles from the shelter Friday morning, hopeful that three days of bottle feeding would get them over the hump. They both seemed to be doing well. I took this photo of Bella that Saturday. But Monday morning when I went downstairs to feed them, tiny Bella was curled up in a tiny little ball at the very back of their crate. I cuddled her and tried to get her to eat, but she wouldn't eat. Olivia came downstairs and had tears in her eyes the moment she saw her.

Foster Zoey 7-12-14
I wrapped her up in a little towel to keep her warm and went upstairs to get a bottle for her. Moments later Livvie came running up the stairs crying, telling me she was dying. We grabbed a syringe and some formula and, sitting on the bottom of the stairs side by side, tears running down our faces, Bella in my lap, we tried to get her to eat some. She seemed to be taking in the milk pretty well, so we gave her as much as we thought she could take and wrapped her back up.

I'm on the screening committee for a Cabinet level position at the College and had a full day of interviews ahead of me, so I emailed our Vice President to tell her I had an emergency at home and would be late for the interviews. Yes, I called in sick for a baby kitten. What else could I do? I got us all ready for the day, got everyone in the car, including Bella, and took the girls to camp. My next stop was the shelter vet. Unfortunately, tiny Bella died before I could get her to Dr. G. My heart broke. I made it to the interviews on time, but I was wiping away tears all the way there.

Bella wasn't our first foster kitten who died. Our very first fosters, Bobby and Teddy, both died of a URI after we took them back to the shelter. But Bella was the first kitten who died on our watch. You might wonder what my girls and I learn from having our hearts broken like this. But you do learn. You learn to love fully and give your heart completely, regardless of the sadness you know you'll feel when those babies (kittens or children) are ready to leave your nest. You learn to try your level best to help no matter how small your chances of succeeding might be. You learn that life does go on, and you learn to never give up because someone else will always need you. Tiny Zoey still needed us.

Foster Gracie 7-12-14
We picked up another foster so Zoey wouldn't be alone, and though bigger and fully ready for adoption, sweet Grace, above, has taken Zoey in as her own. She wraps her little paws around her and cleans her like her mama would. Both Zoey and Grace are rather taken with Sarah's hot pink blanket, so she's given it up for now, a lesson in learning to share. Will we foster again when Zoey is ready for adoption? Maybe not immediately as our hearts still need to mend, but there will absolutely be more fur balls sitting on my shoulders.  No doubt about it.

Best Shot Monday: Friends and Strangers Project, Nikki

Nikki Harris 
Meet Nikki Harris, my most recent lunch date! Nikki is the Division Chief of Animal Care and Protective Services. We met when I started volunteering at the shelter photographing the animals more than two years ago now. Nikki was the shelter manager at that time and has always worked very closely with Friends of Jacksonville Animals. Nikki's been instrumental in working with our area animal rescue groups, including Jacksonville Humane Society and First Coast No More Homeless Pets, working hard to make Jacksonville a no-kill city. Last fall, these efforts landed Jacksonville the national Best Friends Animal Society National Conference!  And Jacksonville's Animal Care and Protective Services has been named the most outstanding shelter in Florida three years running.  Under Nikki's leadership, I feel strongly that recognition will continue and we'll move closer and closer to the no-kill goal.

This weekend is our next Mega Adoption Event at the Jacksonville Fairgrounds. North Florida area rescues and shelters will be banding together to find new homes for as many animals as possible. Our last Mega event found homes for 908 animals.  Here's to topping 1,000 this weekend!  The event is this Friday-Sunday, July 18-20, 10am-6pm, at the Jacksonville Fairgrounds. But you don't have to wait until Friday!  Animal Care and Protective Services is open Tuesday-Saturday, 10am-6pm, at 2020 Forest Street, Jacksonville, in the Riverside area.

Click here to view more Friends and Strangers Project posts. 

Sweet Little "Recycled" Journals

The redheads and I created these fun little journals with some techniques learned from the always-inspiring Roben-Marie Smith. We shared the basic process with the moms and daughters at Mermaids and Mamas, and it was so fun to see each and every one take her own spin on the book.
Kelly's Roben-Marie Smith inspired journal
Kelly's Front Cover
Kelly's Roben-Marie Smith inspired journal
Kelly's Back Cover
Kelly's Roben-Marie Smith inspired journal
Kelly's Interior
I created mine (above) using my painted newsprint underpapers as Roben-Marie did in her tutorial (click on photos to see larger versions in Flickr). Saving those underpapers to use in other projects is a technique I learned from Roben-Marie several years ago! These pieces are actually photographed on one of those underpapers that still has lots of room for more juicy goodness! Essentially, you use a piece of newsprint to protect your work surface while you are working on a project (or many projects). After a while you end up with a beautiful piece of newsprint with all sorts of random yumminess all over it.

Olivia's Roben-Marie Smith inspired journal
Olivia's Front Cover
Olivia's Roben-Marie Smith inspired journal
Olivia's Back Cover
Olivia took a completely different tack (above). Instead of using underpapers, she actually painted her own! She took a sheet of newsprint and then just painted these beautifully random colors all over it. I think hers was actually my favorite out of all I saw. I liked it more than I liked mine!

Sarah's Roben-Marie Smith inspired journal
Sarah's Front Cover
Sarah's Roben-Marie Smith inspired journal
Sarah's Back Cover
Sarah oriented hers vertically and added quite a bit of embellishing to it (above). Instead of using underpapers, she used some of her stencil and spray paint pieces. I love how both my girls really made the project their own. It truly shows their personalities. If you ever have an opportunity to take a class with Roben-Marie, I highly recommend it! She is so generous in sharing her knowledge and her talent, and her classes are just wonderful. Just like she is!