2016 Documented Life Project: September


September started the third volume of my 2016 Documented Life Project. Since we used smaller individual page binders this year, my "book" is actually three books of four months each! I'll post some photos of the whole books when I finish posting the individual months. One thing I've loved about this project is sticking in lots of every day photos like this one of Pete and Liv.


The first week's challenge was to use your favorite number, 5 in my case! I repeated not only the number but also a series of five circles. This was a simple fun page that came together quickly. The photo on the right side is Mason who was one of my September Best Shot Mondays!


The next challenge was "organic." I must have been pressed for time when I put this one together since I used a trusty magazine page as a starter. I topped that with some floral patterns with paint and pen work for the organic feel. Sweet little postcard from Mindy Lacefield on the right.  I met Mindy on one of my Artful Journey retreats, and she is such a treat!


The next challenge was "stitching." I've yet to incorporate real stitching into my journal pages (too lazy to get the sewing machine out!) but I did have this stamp that looked like stitches, so it was the perfect fit! I started with a background that I had created for another project but never used and added the "stitching" on top. That week, we celebrated our volleyball win with froyo!


The next challenge was "make your mark." I chose colored pencils! Sarah and I took a colored pencil class at Hobby Lobby, so I cut out my colored pencil flower and added it in. I love the simplicity of this page. This week ended us going to the Florida State/North Carolina game (which we lost miserably) and our Chi Omega Wish Wars for the Make a Wish Foundation.


Finishing out this month's challenges was "stripes." I really had fun with this page! The background is a magazine page from the start of an article on the Everglades, and then I cut up an old calendar page for the "stripes" and placed them all down the page. They are almost like little alligators swimming through the 'Glades. That's all for this September! 

For more of my 2016 Documented Life Project spreads, click here. For 2015, click here, and for 2014, click here. Be sure to visit the Art to the 5th ladies to see what they have going on! They are the creators of this project!

Best Shot Monday: Why We Do This


So it's Tuesday, but it's still Best Shot Monday (a day late!). Since I'm the photographer, it's rare that I actually get a picture of myself with a shelter dog (at least one that's not a crazy selfie). Credit for the photo above goes to my Jacksonville shelter volunteer buddy Angie Benz. I love this picture. This is Alfalfa. His name was Zues when this picture was taken, but the next day one of the shelter staff pulled him up in the system and saw that his name when he was with us before was Alfalfa, so they changed it back. Yep, he was there before. That's one of the things that breaks my heart about shelter volunteering. If you've been around for a while, you inevitably see dogs come back through the system. I didn't see the reason for his return, but one of the reasons we took him out for this particular photo shoot was because he was ping-ponging in his kennel and was almost able to jump out over the top. Definitely not safe for him! Though very frustrated in his kennel, I think this picture clearly shows what a gentle giant he is out of his kennel. His glamour shot is below.

So back to my Why We Do This. Shelter work is hard. Very hard. Whether you are a staff member or a volunteer. You get your hearts broken, sometimes even shattered like this. But as volunteers, you continue to come back because you know they need you. First, the staff needs you, because there simply aren't enough of them, which means, second, the animals needs you even more so they can get out of their kennels, feel a little sunshine on their backs, smell some fresh breezes, get some kitty cuddles, and learn that they are lovable...and loved...and are more than just an I.D. number. But while you may get your heart broken at times, you always are rewarded handsomely with the unconditional love of those animals and the thankfulness of the staff.

And you are rewarded by stories like this: remember my post last week, Meet Gordon, Please Meet Gordon? I did fall in love with Gordon, but truth be known, I was inspired to write his story by another dog who we lost that week; I was determined that Gordon was not going to share her fate.  Well, between shares from my Facebook page and shares from the shelter's Facebook page where the shelter manager posted it, Gordon's post was read nearly 2,000 times in two days. I posted the story on Monday night; the shelter shared it on Tuesday morning. On Friday, someone came in specifically to meet Gordon, and on Saturday, Gordon went home with that somebody on a sleepover. As loving as I know that dog is, I feel pretty good that his sleepover will become his forever home.

That's Why We Do This. For dogs like Gordon. And Alfalfa. And Kay. And Dallas and Gus. And Honey and Tuga. And the thousands upon thousands of animals that enter the doors of municipal, open-door shelters nationwide every single day. It frustrates the heck out of me when I see keyboard warriors bad mouth our shelters.  These shelters don't get to pick and choose what animals they take in.  They take them all, whether it's a stray off the street or 60 dogs in a hoarding case. And then they have to figure out not only where to put them, but also love them, heal them, help them recover from trauma, help them learn that humans really can love them, and then figure out what's going to be the best route to help them find their new homes.

Thank you to the staff who are charged with caring for all these animals and who get their hearts broken all the time. They are some of my greatest heroes. And thank you to all the volunteers who help them; their compassion is unmatched. The next time you say "someone should do something about that!" be that someone.  Adopt. Don't shop. Foster. Volunteer. Donate. Educate. That's Why We Do This.  (And this post reminded me of this post ... and that though I now live in two places, I've never really left ... and I cried happy tears this time.)  Alfalfa is available for adoption at Jacksonville's Animal Care and Protective Services, 2020 Forest St., Jacksonville. 


2016 Documented Life Project: August


Next up, it's August in my 2016 Documented Life Project. Almost feels like August in Tallahassee this week! This first spread actually includes the last July challenge on the left, which was add a border. I used a trusty magazine page as the base and then added a few things from there.


The first week of August brought the FSU Circus Camp, so we had to include a couple pictures! The photo on the bottom is of Liv's wrists, her tape proof that she flew on the high flying trapeze. She was a natural! She's looking forward to going back to Circus Camp this summer. Sarah preferred to stay a little closer to the ground. :-)


The next challenge was layers of stencils. I've got two layers of papers and three layers of stencils here, topped off with some gelatos for color.


The next challenge was collage. I love those little tiny photos you can print from what used to be called Printstagram and I think is now called Social Print Studio. Anywho, you can print your Instagram pictures there and they come out so cute! I have a little collection of them. This week was the first week of 8th grade for the girlies!



The next challenge was self portrait. I'm not one for selfies by myself, but I love them with my girls. This photo was taken after one of our weekly Moe's Mondays with Mama dates.


And the last challenge for August was to repeat a pattern. I recall that I have several layers on this page from covering up things I didn't like. Proof that you can always save something when you think it's too far gone! I like the way it ended up. I wrote a little note on the bottom to remind me of Liv and I sitting out on the front sidewalk studying some ants for a good hour. Those are some strong little buggers that can carry things 100 times their size!

I'll post September next week! For more 2016 Documented Life Project spreads, click here. For 2015, click here, and for 2014, click here. Be sure to visit the Art to the 5th ladies to see what they have going on! They are the creators of this project!

Best Shot Monday: Meet Gordon, Please Meet Gordon


I wanted to focus on something a little different in this week's Best Shot Monday, so please meet Gordon. Gordon is a good example of why you should take a chance on a dog.

Gordon was near the end of the first run when I was doing photos yesterday morning. I started closest to the outside door and worked my way inwards, so every time I walked back up to sanitize my hands, I walked past Gordon until it was his turn. I'm not going to beautify things here. He was a ping-pong ball in his kennel, and since the kennel staff had not made it to his run yet, he had done some fabulous poop-painting art, and it was just getting more fabulous by the moment. So did I hesitate when I got to him? Yep, I did, but not because of the ping-pong action. With five years of photographing shelter dogs under my belt, I've gotten many a ping-pong ball out of his kennel before. I hesitated because of the ping-pong action combined with the artwork, which included all over his feet.

I got him out of his kennel without too much trouble. Once outside, his ping-ponging continued a minute or two while he worked out some energy. I just put my camera away in my bag for a bit and worked on helping him settle down. First, I stood and just kind of bent down, talking to him and petting him a little strongly to get him to settle. And then once he started settling, I squatted down. Well, he put those poop-painting paws right in my lap, but what the heck, I was already pretty dirty by this point. But then the magic happened. That ping-ponging, poop-painting crazy dog with the severely cropped ears just melted. His whole body just went limp in my lap, and he looked at me with those big brown eyes. The poor boy was so starved for love.

We sat there like that for a good 15 minutes, Gordon just a big puddle of love laying across my lap while I tried to give him all the love he'd been missing out on. We talked about his ears, and if he could have talked, I'm sure he would have had something to say about the person who did that to him. But none the less, his sweet face still won my heart. We talked about his kennel presentation and how we really needed to work on that for him. After a while, I was able to take quite a few sweet pictures of him, but these two are my favorite.

I post quite a few of my shelter pics on Instagram and recently someone commented that they were "ALL PIT BULLS! I wonder why?" The emphasis wasn't lost on me. I shared with the commenter that I've learned it's not the breed. Pit bull really isn't even a "breed" but rather an umbrella name for a whole class of dogs. Over these past five years, I've learned how badly maligned these dogs are by the media. People take a story and run with it, yet the stories about other "breeds" of dogs biting don't make the news. I've read article after article, and the numbers just don't support the bad press...the breed specific legislation...the fear.

It just makes me sad. It makes me sad that dogs here like Gordon get overlooked in shelters all over the country because so many people aren't willing to give them a chance to show them what truly loving dogs they can be. The fact is, all dogs bite given the right circumstances. Dogs like Gordon can bite. Your loving Lab or Golden can bite.  The very day I received that comment, my husband told me that the daughter of a friend of his was bitten on the face by the family Golden Retriever.  And that little Chihuahua? She'll bite the heck out of you! It's our jobs as pet owners to train our dogs properly and educate others, especially children, on how to interact with them, no matter the breed.

My prayer is that more and more people will start giving dogs like Gordon a chance. The love of a shelter dog is often unmatched, for they know you've saved them. And the love of a shelter dog like Gordon, severely cropped ears, kennel frustration, and "that mean pit bull look"?  That kind of love will turn you into a puddle. Gordon is available for adoption at Jacksonville's Animal Care and Protective Services, 2020 Forest Street, 10am-6pm, Tuesday-Saturday.

UPDATE:  This post was read nearly 2,000 times in two days. The Friday after it was posted, someone came to the shelter specifically to see Gordon.  Saturday, they came back and took him home.  :-)  Happy Tails, sweet Gordon. 


2016 Documented Life Project: July


Next up in my 2016 Documented Life Project, on to July! Fourth of July week in the first spread, above and below.  Normally we go up to Fernandina Beach to watch the fireworks, but we stayed home this year and enjoyed a great show over the river right off the back porch. That's a piece of scrapbook paper on the left, under a dyed used dryer sheet. I carried one butterfly through to the front. List Ten that month was ten things I must say yes to. :-)



The next challenge was to add texture, above and below. I pulled together a few pieces of an old sketchbook book I tore apart and rubbed some crayon over top. On the right is another dyed dryer sheet.



Argh! I can't remember what this challenge was above, and I neglected to write it on the page anywhere like I usually do! Layer two stencils, maybe, because that seems to be what I did here! On the right is another piece of the Soul Journal I created in Melody Ross's workshop at Serendipity. Flip the page to find the week's calendar. We went to a Jacksonville's Sun game that week, where this selfie was taken. Very rare to capture my husband in a picture! Our very first date was a Jacksonville's Suns game, so we love to go back to several games a summer. I'm sad to say that the Suns 31-year owners, the Bragan family, finally sold the Suns after the 2016 season, and the new owner changed the named to the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp. I kid you not. I...just...can't.



The last week of July included catching up with some friends and my redheads birthday and annual trip up to Summer Waves on Jekyll Island, so I included lots of pictures, above and below!  We officially have teenagers!


See other posts from my 2016 Documented Life Project here, my 2015 DLP project here, and my 2014 DLP project here. Be sure to check out the Art to the 5th gang, the originators of this project, here.

Best Shot Monday: Meet Layla


Meet Layla. I first photographed this sweet Jacksonville ACPS gal back in December when we were home for Christmas. She was undergoing heart worm treatment at the time, so I had to keep her on her leash. Even then though, she seemed like a sweet girl. Well, her heart worm treatment is complete, and she can be leash free in the play yards now. But no matter! She just wanted to crawl right up in my lap!

The entire time we were outside this morning, she was stuck to me like glue. Such a lover. She's an incredibly affectionate girl who just wants to be by your side. She hasn't learned to play with other dogs yet, but now that her heart worm treatment is complete, the great staff there at ACPS is going to work with her to help her learn that she can love her four-legged friends too. If she could talk, I think she'd probably have a sad story to tell you, but now that she's back to healthy and safe, I know her forever family is out there looking for her. Is it you? She's available for adoption at Jacksonville's Animal Care and Protective Services.

2016 Documented Life Project: June


Getting there! Here's June! This first spread was actually the last challenge for May, use a favorite stamp. I found this stamp at Michael's near Christmas one year and couldn't resist. I made little postcards using it and sent them out with all my Christmas cards that year.


This spread wasn't one of the challenges but instead came from the journal pages I made while in Melody Ross's class at Serendipity back in October 2013 (oh yes, we have things tucked away all over the place around here...). The right page was the cover to my journal that weekend! The left, another pretty color spread out of Better Homes & Gardens! I love their color spreads!


This was the week we were able to get home for the summer and stay for a while. Also a very sad week in our history, as this was the week of the Pulse nightclub mass shooting in Orlando. 49 killed. Postcard on the right from Mati Rose I collected back at my first Artful Journey in 2010.


This week's challenge was to repeat a pattern. I love butterflies, and I love stickers. Combine the two? Heaven. Our List Ten for that month was "words you overuse." My biggest overuse is "awesome." But really, you can never have too much awesome, can you?


The next challenge was to doodle flowers. I started with some notebook paper that one of my girls had sprayed some inks on, added some cut out flowers from an old text page, and then used cut out circles as the centers of my doodled flowers. The green is swirls of paint done with my fingers and then little bits of marker dots over top. This was a busy week! Our SGA Summer Advisor Workshop was that Tuesday-Thursday in Sarasota, and then I headed over to Orlando for the Chi Omega National Convention Thursday-Saturday with a few of my fellow Chi O advisors and officers. Love volunteering with these lovely ladies!


This next challenge was to use tissue paper. I had this pretty polka dotted tissue left over from some gift wrap. I added some separated napkin tissue and a sweet little, perfectly colored book that Livvie had created in her art class. Serendipity as its finest! This was wrap-up year-end budgets week back in the office!


This last challenge before we head into July was to use watercolors. I took the liberty to interpret that a little differently and instead of using actual watercolor paints, I used some watercolor papers. I found these fun little water-colored doilies at Michael's! So that's all for June! For more of my 2016 Documented Life Project, click here.  For 2015, click here, and for 2014 (my favorite), click here.  Check out all the fun stuff the Art to the 5th ladies (creators of the DLP project) have to offer here.

Best Shot Monday: Enrique


Meet Enrique. The minute I met this boy, he reminded me of Chuck, the first shelter dog I ever fell head over heels in love with. Same temperament, same soulful eyes, same gorgeous white coat with the same black polka dots. I photographed him on Friday, posted his picture on Facebook and Instagram, and he was adopted on Saturday! If only we could get them all adopted that quickly!

2016 Documented Life Project: May


Yes! I finally completely finished my 2016 Documented Life Project! I had been doing a great job keeping up until Christmas break, so I had to complete those two weeks after the holidays ... and then after January ... and finally did them at the end of February. Over these next few weeks I'll share the rest of the project one month per week. The challenge for the first week, above, was to use a color I don't normally use much. For me? Black. Really happy with the way this came out though! I covered the whole page with some black tissue paper and then added some stenciling and line work. The card on the right was a sweet little card from my office pal, Marsha, who I went to lunch with that week.


The second week's challenge was to do something with your address. I cut this address label out of a package I received from a calligraphy artist I purchase thank you's from, K is for Calligraphy, and have had it laying around forever just unable to throw it away because it was so pretty. Finally had a use for it! Cloned out my house number though! :-) The envelope on the right was from a sweet little something I received in the mail from one of the Art 5 gals, Lorraine Bell. This was the week of our state baseball tournament, so I included my tournament pass.


The next week's challenge was to use underpapers, a favorite of mine. Didn't need to add too much to it! The Stay Awesome postcard came with a Stay Awesome stamp that I ordered from A Sensible Habit on Etsy. 


Had to give you the other side of that spread to share the funny pic of my husband photo-bombing my girls' last day of 7th grade picture, above. Last day of 7th grade! Where does the time go!?


The next challenge was to use circle stickers, above. I am a magazine junkie and I often tear pages out of magazines that I then use in my journals. Also saves me time when I don't have much! The postcard on the right came with a print I ordered from Mae Chevrette. I LOVE her work and have two of her prints, one in our house in Tallahassee and one at home in Jacksonville.


The last of May and first of June were our week in Boca Grande! My sweet friend Vanessa and her daughter Blaine spent a few days there with us, so I included some pictures of our week in the journal. We are documenting life after all, right?



See more of my 2016 Documented Life Project here, my 2015 Documented Life Project here, and my 2014 Documented Life Project (my favorite!) here. See everything the wonderful Art to the 5th gals have to offer here! Click on any of the pictures above to see them larger in Flickr.