A Little (um, Big) Christmas Gift for Ted

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Over these past couple of weeks, Benjamin has been slaving over a picnic table.  Not eating, mind you, as would normally be the case, but creating a custom picnic table for our dear friend Ted of THE Chowder Ted's.  Benny built the table and then his friend Brian provided him with the projector to project Ted's logo onto the table for burning. The redheads and I pitched in from there, helping to burn in the logo as well as adding our special notes on the table.  We delivered it to a surprised Ted yesterday morning. So, Chowder Ted's fans!  The Warren family has reserved seats at that table in the back!  We're grateful to Ted and the whole Ted's family for giving us our favorite neighborhood seafood joint!

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Best Shot Monday: Christmas Morning 2014

BoneYard Beach-2014

We have a Christmas morning tradition of taking the dogs to the beach after the gifts are opened (which is usually by 6am!)  We wait until the sun comes up, but we are still at the beach normally by 8am so we have it completely to ourselves.  Most times, we go to Big Talbot Island and take the Blackrock Beach trail to what's known to us locals as Boneyard Beach. The shot above was my favorite of the morning. Not really sure why! I think it's just the angles of the image, maybe?

BoneYard Beach-2014

Each year it gets more and more difficult to access the actual beach, and you definitely have to time your visit with the tides.  Erosion has taken its toll, but erosion is what makes Boneyard Beach what it is!  The steps to the beach have been gone for a few years now, so at this point, it's a shimmy down the bluff.  Livvie loving on Molly above.

BoneYard Beach-Mama and Girls 2014

And yes, we usually look like we just rolled out of bed. You know how Christmas morning goes! Who has time to put on makeup and do her hair? Nice shot of Isabelle's butt here. :-)

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BoneYard Beach- Benny 2014

Benjamin hates to have his photo taken, so shots of him are always a bit, um, different.

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This shot is a tradition as well...the girls walking the dogs.  Our visit this year was a bit bittersweet, as we don't know what we'll be doing next Christmas!  With our move to Tallahassee summer 2015, we'll see what next Christmas brings.  If we end up deciding to not rent out our home here in Jacksonville, we'll probably come home for Christmas break!

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and joyous holiday season!  May you have a happy, healthy and adventurous 2015!

iHanna Postcard Swap 2014

I'm woefully behind (yes, I realize this is an ongoing theme...), but I've finally finished my postcards for this year's iHanna swap!  They are mailing Monday!  I've only received about half of mine, so I'm glad to know I'm not the only one behind.  This year, I decided to use my photographs as the background, create a quote digitally on top on the photo and then add little bits of paper collage on top. Half of these are going to international recipients in Australia, The Netherlands, Germany and Canada, and the other half will be traveling to various places in the U.S.  Making the most of my photos, I'm doing this same process for Jessica Brogan's Inspirational Card Deck Swap. :-) These were inspired by artist Mae Chevrette.  I am totally enamored with her work and recently bought this print for my apartment in Tallahassee.
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Best Shot Monday: Remembering Mollie

Mollie, photographed November 11, 2013
Working in animal rescue is an interesting journey. You start doing it because you love animals and you want to find a way to help. You think, "Hey, I have a skill that might help homeless animals find homes," whether that skill is your eye behind a camera, your ability to talk with someone about the benefits of adopting a shelter pet, or your gift for matching a shelter visitor with just the right dog or cat.  Regardless of your reasons for getting involved, I think that there are times when every volunteer's heart gets broken. It may be an animal you work with who so clearly shows the signs of past abuse or a happy-go-lucky pup who just steals your heart with kisses but for some reason simply does not get adopted and spends far too much time in the shelter waiting for his or her forever home.
This week many on our volunteer and staff teams are suffering from a broken heart. This is Mollie, whom we all fell in love with and worked so hard for. We lost this beautiful girl today.  And that is the sad truth of rescue: sometimes dogs like Mollie just can't be saved. Mollie came into the shelter more than a year ago showing signs of abuse. It took weeks and weeks for staff and volunteers to help heal her physical wounds and earn her trust, but once we did, her beauty started shining through.  She got to enjoy time in the sunshine in the play yards, and even more so, on field trips with dedicated volunteers who regularly took her to the Jacksonville Arboretum.  In her time with us, my guess is that Mollie experienced more love than she ever had in her past. It was clear her past experiences had scarred her deeply, so deeply that perhaps she wasn't able to overcome them.  Though our hearts are broken, my heart is broken, we'll continue on.  And with Mollie in our hearts and in our memories, we'll fight just that much harder to save the next one who's faced her circumstances, and try just that much harder to help her overcome them.

I've never trusted people who don't like animals, and I'm sorry if you are one of those people. You are truly missing out on a special bond if you never take the opportunity to give it a chance. (And I believe there is a special place in Hell for those who abuse animals.)  Those who aren't animal lovers may not know about the Rainbow Bridge, which I first shared here.  But I know.  And I believe.  And that's where beautiful Mollie is now, chasing butterflies under bright blue skies, enjoying the feel of the green grass under her paws.  No more shelter walls for you, dear girl. Run free, sweet Mollie, run free. You are loved by so many.

I'm so grateful to all the staff and volunteers at Animal Care and Protective Services, and I feel blessed to be a part of that team.  The love and compassion they show for the animals that come in their doors every day is inspirational, and I respect them tremendously for dedicating their lives to those who have no one else to fight for them.
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Mollie, photographed April 6, 2014

The Documented Life Project: Weeks 46 and 47

Week 46-3

We are winding down!  Week 46's challenge for the Documented Life Project was to incorporate fabric into our page.  Canvas is a type of fabric, yes?  A couple years back, I took Tracy Verdugo's Paint Mojo class; Art 5-ers Roben-Marie and Sandi were there too!  That painting has been sitting around gathering dust, so I decided to cut it up and use it for this challenge.
 Week 46-1

I was hesitant to cut it off the canvas frame at first, but once I made that first cut and realized the new possibilities, I was so glad I did! I was never going to do anything with it in the state it was in, so why not find another use for it?  It was a 30 x 30 inch canvas, so I now have a lot of painted canvas I can cut up and use for other projects.  You can see the painting here.

Week 46-4

Week 46 was my last week at the college, so it was a very emotional week for me. On that Wednesday, my students surprised me with another going away party. They totally had me fooled.  They missed two week's worth of our regular Tuesday SGA meetings due to an event the first week and the Veteran's Day holiday the second week, so my SGA President, Irene, asked if we could have a meeting on Wednesday.

Week 46-5

When I walked down to the meeting, I was met with the whole group and a large banner that they had created and all written notes on. There were flowers and tons of food!  I was amazed they were able to keep that a total surprise for me.  I'm two weeks into the new role, and while I'm enjoying it, I definitely miss having the students around. My new office is entirely too quiet!

Week 47-1

Week 47's challenge was to add a map of our town, state or country and document about the map. Being a native, life-long Floridian, of course, I pulled out my state.  I added to it by highlighting where I've lived in Florida, favorite places and the change I'm currently navigating. This was my first week between jobs, so it was quite a nice lazy week. I definitely needed to decompress, so I spent much of the week playing in my studio, along with a day photographing pups at the shelter.
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I'll be working from home this upcoming week and then have two weeks off for the Christmas break, so I'll be wrapping up the Documented Life Project 2014 and getting ready for 2015! See all my DLP posts here, and check out what the amazing Art to the 5th gals are up to on their blog here.

Double Best Shot Monday: Meet Zoe and China


These two dogs are my two very favorites at the shelter right now!  I photographed Zoe, above, November 24.  She is such a sweet gentle girl.  She's approximately 10 years old with impeccable manners. She was the first dog I took out that day, and every time I walked past her kennel to take out another dog, she sat there quietly and gently wagged her tail.  When I was in this morning, I visited her and sat in her kennel with her for a while. She just layed down next to me with her head in my lap for as long as I could sit with her.  She would make a wonderful family pet. 

China, below, is nothing but a big gray ball of love.  Oh my goodness, this girl is special, too.  All she wants to do is be loved on.  When I went to take her out of her kennel, she immediately lay down and started wagging her tail, looking at me like, "Oh!! You are here to love me, aren't you!?!"  Once I got her outside, she just sat right down and waited for the lovin'.  She was difficult to photograph because she just wanted to be right smack up next to me. Though a tad blurry, this is one of very few shots I was able to get without my feet in it!  


Both of these dogs turn the bully breeds being "bad breeds" talk on its ear.  Zoe is listed as a Pit Bull Terrier, and China is listed as a Staffordshire Bull Terrier. These two girls are two of the sweetest, most gentle and loving dogs I've ever photographed.  They are both available for adoption at Jacksonville's Animal Care and Protective Services, 2020 Forest Street, 10am-6pm, Tuesday-Saturday.  Zoe's ID number is A471933, and China's ID number is A891983.

The Documented Life Project: Week 45

Week 45-1

Week 45's challenge was to add a tab to your page, and it was a special treat because I was able to incorporate something from Lorraine Bell, one of Art 5!  Lorraine had posted a question in our Facebook group -- I can't even remember what the question was now! -- and then selected one lucky person to receive a little surprise from her.  I was that lucky person!  And what I received from her was a beautiful tag!

Week 45-3

I received my package the week the challenge posted and automatically my brain switched "add a tab" to "add a tag." Truly I thought I had the best luck!  That week's challenge was to add a tag, and I just received this beautiful tag from Lorraine!  Once I had completed my page and went to check the challenge for the next week, I saw that Week 45 was, in fact, TAB, not TAG!  So I added one cute little pink tab on the inside spread. Blonde brain. :-)

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On the inside spread, I glued in some painted deli underpapers and a "Go With the Flow" that Olivia came across in a magazine and cut out for me to put in my journal.  

Week 45-5

This week's highlights included a nice going away gathering that my staff and students put together for me. They invited the entire campus and a few friends from other campuses, so it was fun to be able to see everyone. One of my colleagues came up with a neat collage idea as a going away gift that she put together during the gathering with little somethings that everyone who came brought with them to add.  We wrapped up the week with a trip over to Tallahassee for the FSU Homecoming game.
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See all my Documented Life posts here, and visit the Art to the 5th blog for everything Documented Life Project and all that the Art to the 5th gals have to offer here.

Week 45-2

A Sweet Little Christmas Wish List

Sarah Christmas list

I found this on Sarah's desk Monday night and absolutely love her list.  Santa's already taken care of items five and six, and item seven will be an easy addition to item six.  Item eight?  Well, given that we already have two new furry feline additions to the family in Spartacus Pete and Zoey, I don't think adding in one more at this time is the right time, but who knows.  If a sweet little orange tabby were to show up at our doorstep late one night, I'm sure we wouldn't turn him away!

It's items one through four on this list that really struck me, particularly item four.  Oh, my sweet child.  While items one through three, though heartfelt, might set her up for the pageant set (um, no...), it's four that tugged at my heartstrings: "that mama's new job and the move work out well."  I'm on the road to Tallahassee this morning to "officially" start this new job, and yes, I'm very excited.  Professionally, I know it's going to be a great new challenge for me, and I feel very up to the task.  The mama side of me still struggles with uprooting my family for this move, but we're going on faith that we're being led where we are meant to be led.  Though nervous, or nervous-cited as Sarah likes to say (that's nervous and excited combined!), we are getting ready for our new adventure! 

The Documented Life Project: Week 44

Week 44-1

Week 44's challenge for the Documented Life Project was to incorporate real or drawn leaves onto our page. The first thing that came to mind was a leaf print stamp I had from Alisa Burke.

Week 44-2

Week 44-6 
As I've been working through my sticker stash on this project, I managed to use up another sheet on the interior spread!  (Do you find it odd that I have a gazillion stickers and piles of scrapbook papers, yet I've never been a scrapbooker?  I believe I have obsessive-compulsive issues with pretty papers and stickers...tell me I'm not alone...) 

Week 44-5

These "what if" and "it happened" stickers were included in the stickers that came with the Moleskine. They probably were never intended to be used together, but I thought, together, they posed an interesting thought, don't you think?  

Week 44-3

Week 45-7

The highlights for this week included three lunch dates with old friends and colleagues. I was working in lunch dates as I was preparing for my departure from the college! This week also brought our annual Fall Fest on campus, a little bitter sweet as it was my last one, and Halloween!  I wrapped up on the week Sunday at the shelter photographing the pups. 

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See more of my Documented Life Project pages here, and check out the entire project and everything else the Art to the 5th gals have going on here