Best Shot Monday: Friends and Strangers Project, Ted


I'm currently taking an online class from Liv Lane called Choosing Beauty.  I discovered Liv a couple years ago and was immediately taken in by her positive attitude and the fact that she is a "human sparkler."  Human sparkler? Isn't that awesome!?  Though I'm typically a pretty happy-go-lucky kind of girl to begin with, this class serves as a daily reminder that beauty lies all around us, even where we might least expect it.

This picture is a great example of that.  It's certainly not a "Best Shot Monday" candidate from a technical standpoint, but when I watched this moment unfolding, it struck me how beautiful it truly was.  I know I've mentioned Chowder Ted's in the past, but here's your official introduction to the man behind the chowder, so to speak.  What struck me most about this moment is the beauty of this little place. No, the kitchen of our great little neighborhood seafood dive is not exactly beautiful, unless the beauty is in its workhorse simplicity.  But "the place"...that's quite beautiful.

Chowder Ted's is literally within walking distance from our house.  We're just east of Brown's Creek; Ted's is just west of Brown's Creek.  We started coming here when we bought our lot, six years before we actually built the house, and our girls have truly grown up there. Their first visit was at six weeks old, sitting in their carriers, thankfully sleeping the whole time. We've been blessed to call Ted and his family friends and have even shared a few Christmas Eves with them. One of my girls' friends at school even said to her one day, "Hey! Why is your picture on the wall at Chowder Ted's?!?!" 

As my girls ran back into the kitchen to give Ted a hug and catch up last Thursday night, I realized what a gift we have been given in this little place. We've made new friends here, shared birthdays here, celebrated holidays here, and even walked over to check to make sure it wasn't getting flooded during a really bad storm when Ted couldn't get to the restaurant! Heck, we even help bus tables! So, a technically beautiful picture?  No. To someone who knows knowing of this place, it's just a blurry snapshot.  But to me, it's another example of how finding beauty isn't always a visual thing; it can also be found in personal connections and a tiny little seafood dive. 

For more Friends and Strangers Project posts, click here

The Documented Life: Week 34

Week 34-3-72

Week 34's challenge for The Documented Life Project was to "fill the page with numbers that relate to your week." The most important number for us that week was six, as it was the FIRST WEEK OF SIXTH GRADE!  That was really the only number I could think about that week!

Week 34-4-72

I used yet another scrap from my sidekick for the tip in, a page from an old book. It seemed perfect for our week of starting middle school, with the two young girls and the question on the bottom: "Where are you going?" she asked.  I added color to the page with Faber Castell gelatos.  I love the creamy consistency of the gelatos.

Week 34-2-72

On the interior spread, I started with a piece of deli paper under paper scrap and then grabbed my big numbers stencil. And here would be where I made my mistake. I used black gesso and a makeup sponge to stencil the numbers, and you can see that I probably should have gone with actual black paint, which would have been thicker and stenciled a bit cleaner (click on pictures to enlarge). But lesson learned!  I journaled that lesson on the page as well.

Week 34-1-72

There's a funny story behind "We are Not an Island."  This actually came from the exercise I struggled with the most in Orly's class at An Artful Journey.  I won't go into much detail about the specific exercise so as not to spoil Orly's class if you ever have an opportunity to take it, but suffice it to say, we were talking about islands. The classmate next to me, and I can remember her pretty face as plain as day but can't remember her name, was struggling as much as I was, so she reached over and wrote this in my sidekick.  We both tried very hard not to burst out laughing!  It was actually a little bit of serendipity that this shown through so clearly from the back of the sidekick pages I used in Week 33, so I just brought it out strongly with a black Sharpie as a fun memory.

Thanks for stopping in today!  I hope you have a wonderful weekend and get to spend some time enjoying what you most love.  See more Documented Life posts here.      

The Documented Life: Week 33

Week 33-1-72

Week 33's challenge for The Documented Life Project was to "use your under paper in a creative way." All the under papers I used here came from my "sidekick" I used in Orly's class over a year ago. I've been pulling from it for that long!  Orly put the little sidekick books together for us, and the purpose was to place all our left over paint in it. It was full of pieces of blueprints, maps, pages from old National Geographic magazines and other ephemera.  After this week's challenge, I only have one small piece left!  What's even more fun is the back of one of the pages peeks through to Week 34. I'll share that soon!

Week 33-4-72

This week documents our five days over on St. George Island just before school started. St. George is due south of Tallahassee, Florida, on the gulf. It's a barrier island whose bridge pulls away from Eastpoint.  Just a little farther west is Apalachicola.  We always hop over to "Apalach" for a day of poking around great shops and antique stores.  I never come away empty handed (not sure that's a good thing!).   When I was in school at FSU, we'd make some trips down to St. George, and there truly was just about nothing there then, just the Buccaneer Motel (which has gotten a facelift), a few beach houses, and a highly over-priced jiffy store and gas station.  There's a little bit more now, houses mainly, but still not much, and that's its charm.  We stay in a cute little two-bedroom, one-bath cottage owned by a friend of mine. It's one block off the beach, but it's right at a beach access, so we're still less than 100 yards from the beach.  

Week 33-3-72

In between the mainland and the island is Apalachee Bay, world famous for oysters.  On the bay side of the island, there is an estuarine preserve, fully loaded with oyster shells and all sorts of critters from hermit crabs wearing beautiful King's Crown shells to horseshoe crabs.  I'm not particular about my shell collecting.  Much to my husband's chagrin, I have just as many jars of oyster shells as I do more "beautiful" shells. There's just something about the lowly oyster shell that speaks to me.  I keep telling myself I'm going to make some jewelry out of some! 

Here's a great website that talks about the whole "Forgotten Coast" area.  Find out more about The Documented Life project over on the Art to the 5th blog! See more Documented Life posts here.  

Week 33-2-72

The Documented Life: Week 32

Week 32-1

Week 32's challenge for The Documented Life Project was to incorporate a fortune from a fortune cookie.  Well, guess what!  I don't eat Asian food, so I don't have any fortune cookie fortunes!  And I soon came to learn that you can't just go down to Publix and buy a box.  So I did the next best thing:  I Googled "fortune cookie fortune" and up popped a site that will give you a fortune.  I thought the one I got was perfect!  "You have a fine capacity for the enjoyment of life." 

Week 32-2

I started out with some randomly painted newsprint for the background and then added the fortune in a variety of letter stickers.  I'm slowly working through my sticker stash during this project (but Lord help me, my stash is now completely void of a's and e's...)  The big event that week was 6th grade orientation, which frankly wasn't much of an orientation.  We stood in several long lines to do nothing more than pick up books, get IDs and pick up schedules.  Thankfully the Open House last week was just a tad more informative, though truly just a tad as we had only eight minutes, as a class, with each teacher.  No time for one-on-one's there.  But I digress...

Week 32-4

I added in some date numbers cut from an old calendar, added some rhinestone bling for a little extra sparkle, included the Bliss sticker, added a quote from a vellum quote stack to the front of the tip in and called it done.  We're on to Week 38 this week, and by golly, I've actually been keeping up, so I'll share more later this week. Looking forward to seeing what the Art to the 5th gals have planned for next year.  See more Documented Life posts here.  
Week 32-3

Best Shot Monday: They'll be Driving Tomorrow

St George 2014

This week marks one month into middle school for us. This has been a challenging transition for us, but we are starting to get the hang of things. Though it seems my girls have grown a year in just four short weeks!

The transition to riding the bus has gone smoother than I expected. Short of the bus blowing past us the first day and still not being able to get our house--not the house catty-corner across the street that has not had children living in it for four years--registered as a stop, the redheads seem to at least enjoy riding the bus. There aren't a whole lot of kids out our way, so it's not very crowded, and they have a few friends who also ride the same bus with them.

We had the school Open House last week, and since the girls don't have any classes together, Benny went with Sarah while I went with Olivia. I really wished I could have met all Sarah's teachers, too! It's a new type of juggle for the girls as they have "A" day, with four classes, and "B," with four other classes, eight classes in total. Olivia has PE twice, and though initially neither she nor I liked that, she loves it now since it comes at the end of both A and B days and she gets to get out and play. She has dealt with a bit of bullying in the locker room, but hopefully we've given her the tools to work through that.

Sarah has struggled with her math teacher, but she's starting to warm up to him. At the open house, Benny said he told the parents, "I'm sure your kids have told you that I'm the meanest teacher at the school," so at least he knows he has a bit of a reputation! I didn't get a chance to interact with him, but Benny felt like things were going to work out well in the long run. At a minimum, Sarah will know her math! I met Olivia's math teacher and she seems to be the antithesis of Sarah's, very nurturing and caring, which is what Livvie needs since she struggles with math to begin with.

As for me, there've been some bonuses and some struggles. I've had to change my work schedule to accommodate waiting for the bus with the girls. On the upside of that, I've been able to work my early morning power walk back in thanks to the later schedule; on the downside, I don't get home until 6:30pm or so. I look at my girls and they look so damn grown up: the things they say, the way they carry themselves, the way they snuggle together on their tablets absorbed in each others' MineCraft worlds. Seems like 20 years old is just around the corner in this picture, taken on the first day of our visit to St. George Island last month. I even catch myself checking out cars, wondering what type of car will be best for them! And wondering how we are going to afford two cars and two kids in college! (They may just be sharing a car...) Yes, they are only in middle school, but at this rate, it feels like they will be driving tomorrow.

I tell ya, this mama stuff is hard work, isn't it Mamas? I wouldn't trade it for the world, but there are days that my heart feels like it's going to explode from all the love I carry around for these girls. My hopes for them, my fears for them, my dreams for them, they're all wrapped up so tightly, like the tiny little pieces of candy inside a gumball, just waiting to spill out at the first bite.  I pray every day that I'm doing all I can to help them soar, helping them become caring, thoughtful individuals.

We recorded a video yesterday for our sweet friends Vanessa and Blaine, whom I told you about here. They've issued a challenge that I hope you'll accept.  Enjoy me tripping over Isabelle near the end of the video.  

The Documented Life: Week 31

Week 31 challenge for The Documented Life Project was to add a pocket and fill it with the week's treasures. Given that Week 31 just happened to be the redheads' birthday week, that was very easy to do!
Week 31-1 Kelly

Week 31-6 Kelly

We documented our whole week, from visiting Eco Relics and a quick trip to Flamingo Lake on Monday to having a sleepover with Emily for her birthday and my visit to the shelter for Sunday Funday at the end of the week. The day of their birthday, we went to Summer Waves water park up on Jekyll Island and took their good friend Hailey along with us. Mid-week included a day in St. Augustine and a day of rest!

Week 31-2 Kelly

Week 31-4 Kelly

I included a couple pictures on the spread and then stuck the rest along with the receipts for our adventures in the pocket, which was an envelope created by the lovely Monica Moran. Monica and I are An Artful Journey buddies. That's Monica's envelope below.

Week 31-5 Kelly

Week 31-3 Kelly

Details on this week's challenge: I started with a piece of painted up deli paper and added rub-on letters, phrases, and scribbles. One of my main goals for this whole project has been to put a dent in all the papers and such I have, and I think I'm slowly getting there!  See more of my Documented Life Project posts here, and check out the whole project here

Best Shot Monday: Friends and Strangers Project, Sherwin

Next up in my Friends and Strangers project, meet Sherwin! Having an on-line creative business, I make regular trips to the post office to mail orders. Jacksonville's main post office is close to my campus, so most often that's where I go. I've found all the staff there to be very welcoming and friendly, but Sherwin has always stood out to me. I've wanted to catch his photo for a while, but most often when I'm in there, there's a line of people so I don't want to interrupt. Thankfully one day last week, I dropped in to mail a package on an afternoon that wasn't quite so busy.

Sherwin was born into a military family in Texas and through the military, his family ended up in Jacksonville by way of Norfolk, Virginia, when he was in kindergarten. He's been in Jacksonville ever since. I have to admit, I was shocked to hear how old he was because he certainly wears his age well (much like my good friend Walter)!  He's been with the Postal Service for 20 years, so I'll let you do the math.  Thank you, Sherwin, for your always excellent service, positive attitude, and welcoming smile.  Those of you in Jacksonville, stop in to the main post office on Kings Rd. and say hello!

I've been enjoying this project. It's a been a challenge to capture the "strangers" portion as it truly is pretty daunting to ask a stranger if you can take his picture. I've been turned down often. Heck, I've even been turned down by friends who don't want me to photograph them!  Even though I see Sherwin at the post office every visit, it was still a bit frightening to ask.  Recently I finished reading a book a blog reader, Carol, recommended to me after seeing this series of posts.  The book is called In the Neighborhood:  The Search for Community on an American Street One Sleepover at a Time, by Peter Lovenheim.  From Carol's email address, I'm guessing she's from Rochester, NY, and the setting for this book is Brighton, just outside of Rochester.  I really enjoyed the book, and it's encouraged me to reach out to more of my own neighbors, so I hope to start including them in this project.  Our street shares some similarities to the Sandringham Road of the book, not necessarily because we don't feel the need to talk with each other, but rather the nature of the street makes it more of a challenge. We live on Heckscher Drive, essentially AIA, a heavily traveled state road with no sidewalks.  We know all our immediate neighbors and have many times helped out our elderly neighbor directly next door, but beyond our little cluster, we don't really know our neighbors. I'm hoping to change that soon, thanks to Carol's inspiration.

Happy Labor Day to you all!  Sherwin and I are enjoying our day off!  I hope you are, too! See more Friends and Strangers project posts here