Best Shot Monday: Merry Christmas 2017

Christmas 2017

Merry Christmas to you and yours from us. The photo above was taken by one of my Chi Omega mentees, sweet Mackenzie Bowlin. We love it! As per tradition, we spent Christmas morning hitting Big Talbot Island's Blackrock Trail to Boneyard Beach. We had to go super early this morning to catch the tides right and lucked into a beautiful sunrise. That sunbeam was magically captured by my cell phone camera!

Christmas Black Rock 2

We hope the holidays have been and continue to be joyful for you and bring you blessings for a wonderful new year.

Christmas Black Rock 1

2017 Documented Life Project: May


Hello!  Yes, it's November!  Been a crazy month around here with tons of work travel.  Just popping in for a quick share of May for my 2017 Documented Life Project! First week, our FCSAA State Baseball Tournament!


The second week of May brought Mother's Day and Sarah's last concert as a Deerlake Middle School band member. As you can see, she was not happy. She loves her band fam!


The girlies made me a chocolate cake for Mother's Day. And the hubby gave me a very cool apple green Kitchen Aid mixer! I've named her Hazel.

The next week brought us the girls 8th grade commencement ceremony. Apparently having a commencement ceremony at the end of each school level is a thing now!  The only ones I had were high school and college! 


The fourth week of May brought our wedding anniversary. Twenty 22 years this year!  Our very first date was a Jacksonville Suns game, so we always find a way to go to a Suns game around our anniversary ... even though their name was changed this year to the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp. Sadly, I kid you not...


Thanks to the ladies at Art to the 5th for creating this project.  To see more of my 2017 DLP project, click here. For 2016, click here; for 2015, click here; and for 2014, click here.   Thanks for stopping in! 

2017 Documented Life Project: April


Clicking along here to my April spreads for my Documented Life Project. This first week was a good reminder for me. Creating something everyday has most definitely become a challenge for me with my schedule, but I think sometimes we need to broaden our perspective a bit. Could be a photo, could be a nice meal, could be just a great conversation with your child. All those can incorporate some sort of creativity (especially if said child is a teenager...). This first week in April also included one of our state Student Government conferences, so I included my name badge. And that Sunday was our Chi Omega Eleusinian celebration!


The second week of April took us home for the Easter holiday. My husband's family has a great Easter family reunion every year, complete with massive Easter egg hunt and lots and lots of great food. That week was also a milestone week for my daughter Livvie, as she caught her first illusion trick! She has her sights set on being an FSU Marching Chiefs Feature Twirler!



The third week of April brought our FSU Greek Awards night. I had no idea our Chi Omega Exec Board had nominated me for Advisor of the Year, so I was doubly surprised when my name was announced as the winner! As you can see here, April was super busy so I did not have much time to create very detailed spreads. :-)


Our collegiate Chi Omegas were also awarded FSU Sorority Of the Year for the third year straight. Super proud of these young ladies.



The fourth week of April found me at our Spring Council for Athletic Affairs E-Board meeting and our state Softball Tournament. That spread there on the left and enlarged below started with me just randomly using up some paint that was on my palate.



This last page for the month wrapped up April and is the closing page in my January-April book. I've once again had to divide this year into three books to fit everything in! Thanks for stopping in and following along on my Documented Life Project journey. This project was first created by the ladies at Art to the 5th, so be sure to visit them for their latest offerings. For more of my 2017 project, click here; for 2016, click here; for 2015, click here; and for 2014 (still my favorite!), click here.

Best Shot Monday: Meet Fargo!


Meet Fargo! Fargo is a male Labrador Retriever mix about two and a half years old. He's very playful and loves to hang out in play group with his play group pals. He absolutely LOVES water! Rolling around in the doggie pool and in some good old water puddles are some of his favorite activities. He loves treats, is treat motivated and also walks pretty well on his leash.

Fargo has been at the City of Tallahassee Animal Service Center since April 12 and is currently the shelter's longest resident. That means he's been waiting for 181 days for his people to find him! A super long time to wait! Might you be his person? How about you come meet him? Be sure not to judge him by his kennel behavior; being cooped up in a kennel for 181 days would be stressful on you, too, wouldn't it?! Take this awesome boy out for a proper meet and greet and you just may fall in love! Not ready to adopt right now? Please share Fargo's story with your friends! You never know who might be looking for a great dog!

Best Shot Monday: Meet Cobra!


We were home in Jacksonville this past weekend cleaning up from Hurricane Irma so I squeezed in a little shelter time. This handsome fella is Cobra! I actually photographed him earlier in September and I spent some time with him while I was up there Saturday. He's a mid-to-large sized male about 2 years old, and he loves, loves, loves tennis balls! He's working on getting two in his mouth at one time, and I’m sure he’ll figure it out soon! He walks well on his leash and sits sweetly for treats, and he's just another example of the amazing pets you can find at your local animal shelter. Cobra is available for adoption at Jacksonville's Animal Care and Protective Services, 2020 Forest Street in Jacksonville.  Adopt a shelter pet!  

2017 Documented Life Project: March


Hello! Sharing my March 2017 Documented Life Project spreads today! This page actually started out with a magazine page with my favorite colors. What I wanted to do with it didn't turn out quite right, so I just covered it up with a light smear of gesso and some stenciling with one of my favorite stencils. The little scrap of fabric message was sitting on my work table and fit perfectly! This week was the week of our State Basketball Tournament, held in Ocala, so I was able to spend some time with my dear friends Marjorie and Vanessa, shown in the photo on the right with me. My job requires a ton of travel, so it's nice to be able to catch up friends when I'm on the road!



This next page also started with a pretty page from a magazine. I tend to find my prettiest magazine pages in Better Homes and Gardens and Good Housekeeping and keep a stack of them on my worktable both for tear outs and to use for gluing so I don't get glue all over my workspace. I cut that big "Go Ahead, Lose Yourself" on the calendar side out of an Ulta Beauty bag. My girls have started marching band this year, and Olivia is on the drill team. Don't even get me started on the hair and make up requirements for drill team.... We'll just say it's been an education for all of us! This week included Spring Break, so we had a nice quiet week at Home in Jacksonville. It was a little rainy and chilly, but that was just fine. We were Home.



Well, clearly, I was on a "pairs of two" kick in March. This page started out with rubbing some random paint on with my fingers (deep down, I will always be a finger-painter...), and then I added some stamping, a bit of collage work, and pen work. This page came together really quickly, which is important for me as there is never enough time to devote to my create playtime. This week included three of my favorite things: my weekly meeting with my two Chi Omega advisees, Mack and Maddie; our monthly Chi Omega advisory board meeting; and an afternoon at the shelter. As harried as things get with work, it's been so important to my sanity to make time for those outside of work activities that make my heart happy. That's my family, my "big girls," and my shelter volunteering! And of course, playing in my art studio!



This was another very quick page. I used some of my underpapers, rubbed a little more paint on them, painted some random sweet little flowers with my fingers and added in a card Sarah made. 5 is my lucky number. On the back side of the card, Sarah wrote "Unicorns are real." Yep, they are. This week really sums up a week in the life for me. Moe's Monday is a tradition for us; we go just about every Monday unless I'm out of town for work (extreme queso addiction here). Shelter Tuesday afternoon. Chi O meeting on Wednesday. Out of town for our state Brain Bowl Tournament over at Gulf Coast State College in Panama City Thursday and Friday.  And then I participated in the Springtime Tallahassee Arts Jubilee on Saturday. Busy week, but pretty average week!



I wrapped up March with this sweet little page. The background was a piece I've had laying around for a couple years, the background for some owl paintings from a class the redheads and I were taking online that I finally put it to use! Clearly, the owl did not make the cut. :-) The bird is a stencil I traced on an old dictionary page and added some color to, and the flowers are a stamp from Roben-Marie Smith.

Thanks so much for stopping in. Our world has been a little upside down the past week or two since we had quite a bit of damage to our Home in Jacksonville courtesy of Hurricane Irma. We had about a foot of water in on the ground floor and some damage to our dock and roof. We had a tree in the roof last year courtesy of Hurricane Matthew, so we're counting our blessings! It could have been worse! The hubs has been over there handling clean up while the redheads and I have been juggling work and school in Tallahassee. Continued prayers for all who have been affected by this very active, devastating hurricane season. It's been a rough one!

To see more of my 2017 Documented Life Project, click here. For 2016, here; for 2015, here; and for 2014, here. Thanks to the ladies at Art to the 5th for creating this project and to my sweet friend Roben-Marie for introducing me to them and all the constant inspiration she provides.

Best Shot Monday: Meet Kay and Tilt...Again


If you volunteer at a municipal shelter long enough, you invariably see a dog come back through the system. We were home in Jacksonville for the long Labor Day weekend, so I spent some time at my home shelter photographing the pups this morning. See that beautiful girl above? This is Kay ... today. I first photographed her four years ago and actually blogged about her then because she broke my heart. So when I saw her today, with the photo I took of her four years ago on her kennel card, my heart sank. I took her out and I don't know if she actually remembered me (I did spend quite a bit of time with her back then) or if it was just her innate incredibly sweet and loving nature, but she snuggled up to me just like an old friend. Praying that a very sweet family finds this very sweet girl very soon.


And then there's this guy. Meet Tilt ... today. I first photographed and blogged about him five years ago, and with that little tilt of the head, he is unmistakable. He's much bigger these days, but he's still such a fun loving fella. Both Kay and Tilt came back into the shelter as strays. At one time, they had homes. Who knows what's happened in their lives between then and now. Prayers they get a new fresh start very soon! They are both available for adoption at Jacksonville's Animal Care and Protective Services. 

I shared a post on Facebook several weeks ago written by a shelter tech about the question she and all of us who spend a lot of time volunteering in animal shelters hear often: "Is this a kill shelter?" Her post was so well written and really got to the heart of the matter of animal sheltering. The truth is, even "no-kill" shelters have to put animals down, but in sheltering, we refer to it as what it is: humanely euthanizing. The numbers vary slightly around the country, but for the most part, to earn no-kill status means that 90% of the animals that come through your doors walk back out.  That 10% is there for a reason. Some animals are too sick to be saved, and it's far more humane to release them from their sickness. And frankly, some animals are simply too dangerous to be safely adopted out.  I'm not sharing this because I think Kay or Tilt might face this fate, not at all. They are both highly adoptable and will hopefully meet their new families very soon. I share this to try to spread understanding.  It makes me so sad to see people say they won't support a large municipal shelter or even a small rural municipal shelter because they believe those places "kill" animals.  Please take some time to learn and understand what that phrase means.  Even your humane societies humanely euthanize animals at times, because it's simply the right thing to do, for the animal or for the safety of the public. Think about your own family pet.  Have you ever had to euthanize a pet?  I know I have, and I think most people who have ever loved numerous animals have been faced with that painful decision.  But you knew it was the best thing to do for your pet.

So, please, support your municipal animal shelter. That shelter is the one charged with taking in every animal that comes their way, be it a stray, owner surrender, cruelty case, confiscation, you name it, they take them all.  Support them, either by volunteering your time, fostering, adopting, or donating funds to the organizations that raise funds for them.   Help make a difference.  They need you.      

2017 Documented Life Project: February


Welcome to February in August for the 2017 Documented Life Project! :-) This first week's spread was a bit of serendipity (my favorite word). I had cut those legs out of a magazine and then they fluttered to the other side before I could glue them down. Liked the back side even better. The highlight of the week was our state student government conference. I always love the opportunity to hang out with my former SGA colleagues.



The second week was actually created by my daughter Sarah. She had been doing some DLP creating and kind of fizzled out, so I asked her if I could include some of her pages in my book. She was quite honored! The highlight of this week, depicted by the photo, was our first mountain bike ride as a family. My husband and I have been mountain bikers for years, but this was the first time we took the girls. They loved it!


This next week includes a collection of under papers brought together by a Pam Carriker heart stamp. This week brought our first introduction to the high school our girls are now attending, capped off by a band concert in which the middle school band got to perform on the high school stage.



This last spread was more under papers topped off by a Donna Downey stencil that I stenciled on more under papers and some book pages. I really love the way this came together! It's my favorite spread of the month.


Thanks for stopping in!  See more of my 2017 Documented Life Project here.  And you can check out my 2016, 2015, and 2014 DLP projects by clicking on those years. Thanks to the ladies at Art to the 5th for the inspiration.  And speaking of inspiration, I've been back at the jewelry bench lately and will be sharing some new jewelry pieces soon.  I've missed digging into bead boxes! 

Best Shot Monday: Meet Rocky


For this week's Best Shot Monday, I'd like to introduce you to Rocky. While I do most of my photography volunteering with the City of Tallahassee Animal Service Center and Jacksonville's Animal Care and Protective Services, my girls and I also help out Tallahassee Big Dog Rescue when we can.  This picture aptly demonstrates that TBDR also rescues small dogs!  All TBDR animals are in foster homes, so it's a little hard to get them all photographed. They hold twice monthly adoption booths at PetSmart on northeast Capital Circle in Tallahassee the second and fourth Saturday of the month.  Thankfully, PetSmart lets us sneak out the back door with the dogs to a nice green spot for photos. 

This cute little guy was taken in by TBRD from the Bainbridge, Georgia, Humane Society. He's about one or two years old.  He's a bit reserved at first, and his foster mama says he tries to be a good watch dog, but soon enough, his friendly and affectionate personality takes over. His favorite place is right next to you, and he's learning to become a great little lap dog. He's sitting up on my daughter Olivia in this picture, and it looks to me like he is completely smitten with her! He has such a sweet expression on his little face.

Rocky still needs a bit more practice walking on a leash, but he will pick it up just fine given a little patience (of course, he prefers to be carried!).  Younger children might intimidate him, but he should adjust to being with older kids that take their time with him to earn his trust. He's neutered, update-to-date on shots, microchipped and available for adoption through Tallahassee Big Dog Rescue.  

Best Shot Thursday: Meet Wiley!


Let me tell you about Wiley. Wiley came in to the City of Tallahassee - Animal Service Center system as a stray in October 2016. Yes, you read that correctly! October 2016. That means he’s been in the system for 10 months! He was there at the shelter in the kennels waiting for his forever family to find him until the end of March when he was selected to participate in the UTOPIA program. The UTOPIA program is a partnership between Animal Services and the Taylor Correctional Institution (TCI) in Perry. Dogs selected for the program are housed at TCI for a minimum of eight weeks to receive socialization and basic obedience training and then are returned to the shelter for adoption.

Wiley graduated from the UTOPIA program in July and has been waiting for you to find him since. Shelter staff estimate him to be about four years old and 55-60 pounds. And let me tell you! This dog is amazing! He’s a cattle dog mix who knows commands like sit, roll over and play dead. He walks well on his leash and, even though he’s incredibly fond of treats, takes them very gently. He loves to play, particularly tug of war, and he’ll even “talk” to you while he’s playing. And while he loves a great game of tug of war or fetch, he is also content to just settle in and chill for a while, and you know, maybe share your snack with you. He's also a playgroup member and gets along well with others. His handlers at TCI even shared that once he learned where his temporary “home” was, he was able to run back to and into his kennel from 200 yards away after his training and play for the day! One thing to note, he should not join a home with cats, but really, who needs a cat with this much awesomeness waiting for you? He’s available for adoption at the City of Tallahassee Animal Service Center.

Though you might not be in the Tallahassee area, I bet there is an animal shelter near you. And I promise you it's full of awesome dogs like Wiley. Give shelter dogs a chance. Adopt, don't shop.

UPDATE:  I shared this post on Facebook when I wrote it and it was shared numerous times.  Wiley was adopted two days later!  

Workshop with Pam Carriker

PC journal 8

The first weekend of August, I had the pleasure of taking a workshop with Pam Carriker at Donna Downey Studios. This is the second studio workshop I've taken at Donna's place, and she and her husband Bill are wonderful hosts. And Pam was a very fun and patient teacher!  I've admired Pam's work for a while and was initially drawn to her thanks to her book Art at the Speed of Life. Great tips there in finding time to squeeze little bits of art time into very busy lives. The piece above was a work in the art of covering up.  I tried a hand ... I hated it ... so I covered it up. :-) I'm finding that I definitely don't have a light hand myself when it comes to working with the Stabilo All pencil and a water brush.

PC journal 1

Full spread here.  So clearly faces aren't my gift either, but I was determined to try. Love that crazy hair, huh? I'll definitely have to keep practicing on the faces.

PC journal 3

PC journal 6

Pam walked us through her process for creating her journal pages and then basically turned us loose. She brought all her paints and inks for us to use as well as all her stamps and stencils. We also had full use of all Donna's supplies there in the studio. That's one of the things I've really loved about workshops there. All supplies are included so you don't have to figure out how to pack and bring it all on a plane! (And they even pick you up at the airport!) The spread above with close up was definitely my favorite of the weekend. Those funky boots just spoke to me; they came from one of Donna's stencils.

PC journal 2

PC journal 7

The spread and close up above involved working with tissue paper transfers. What I really liked about this process was flipping the same image over to get a mirror image. Pam supplied us with the image. Not sure where to go from here on this page, so we'll see where it takes me.

PC journal 4

PC journal 5

Pam taught us a lot about using a color wheel, both in selecting colors for a page as well as in using a color wheel as an actual design element. I should have layed down some white gesso under this color wheel to make the colors more true and vibrant on top of my fairly busy background, but these are all the colors in Pam's line of paints through Derivan Matisse available at Jerry's Art-a-Rama. They were very fun to work with! Very vibrant, yet sheer at the same time.

I'm thankful to have these opportunities to get away and play with paint and paper every now and then.  They are few and far between since I have so much travel in my new job (going on three years now, but still feels new ...).  I came home energized and ready to clean up my studio and get back to playing more again. Thanks, Pam and Donna! 

Best Shot Monday: The End of Summer


Yes, the end of summer is quickly approaching ... not in a regular calendar sense, maybe, but most definitely in a school calendar sense. I caught this shot of Benny and Olivia sitting on the dock with the dogs not long before we had to head back over to Tallahassee for the start of band camp. Yep, band camp. (I know those of you of a certain age and movie generation might now be saying in your head, "This one time... at band camp..." My husband says it all the time now!) As the redheads head into high school, they will both be participating in marching band, Sarah with her clarinet and Olivia on drill team. Because they are incoming freshmen, that meant THREE WEEKS of band camp. The first week was freshmen only, 8am-noon; last week we finished up full band, 8a-5pm; and this week they have afternoon rehearsals 3pm-5pm. School starts on the 14th!  Hard to believe my girls are heading into high school.  It may be cliche, but it's so true. Time surely passes quickly!  

Getting Back to the Jewelry Bench

Cristhel necklace

While we were Home in Jacksonville for a good part of the summer, I brought some really basic jewelry supplies home with me, REALLY basic. I brought my tools and some brass wire and chain, along with a bin of beads that I've been meaning to destash on Etsy. I never got around to photographing the beads I wanted to destash, but I did spend some time at my workbench playing around with some random beads I had there at Home. I spent a couple nights working with sweet Denver at my feet, and this was one of the pieces I made then. I sent this one to my fellow shelter volunteer friend, and now volunteer coordinator, at our Jacksonville shelter as a little surprise to thank her for all she does for our shelter staff, volunteers and, of course, all the animals! Once I get my workshop cleaned up and reorganized in Tallahassee now that we are back over here, I plan to get better at spending a little more time at the jewelry bench again. Great thing to do while my art journal pages are drying!