Monday, September 4, 2017

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.      

Thursday, August 31, 2017

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! 

Monday, August 28, 2017

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.  

Thursday, August 24, 2017

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!  

Saturday, August 19, 2017

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! 

Monday, August 7, 2017

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!  

Friday, August 4, 2017

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!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

2017 Documented Life Project: January


Hello! Now that we've finally hit August, it's time to share my January edition of my 2017 Documented Life Project (snort...!). I have been chugging along in my 2017 journal on a fairly timely basis... just have a little backlog in sharing it! The Art to the 5th gals did not continue with DLP in 2017, but I decided to do another year on my own since I really liked the documenting part of it, particularly adding in pictures from the week to my journal. It really is a great reason to actually get those pictures out of my phone and into real life. I started the year out with a little booklet I received from Brave Girls Club, perfect way to start the year.


The first week of January was a big one for us. The Daily Dose of Awesomeness got BRACES! :-)


For the second week's spread, I used this stamp I got from Donna Downey Studios. Since we try to be all sorts awesome around here, it's perfect for our family. I cut that pink light out an HGTV magazine.



The inspiration for the next week came from a Sherry Canino video tutorial. So much juicy goodness out there on YouTube; I discovered Sherry through Roben-Marie Smith. The excitement this week included my turning-50-right-of-passage: a colonoscopy! Whoo hoo! All good! (and it's really true what you hear...the procedure itself is a breeze; it's the prep that makes you miserable. Be sure to get your screenings!!!)



In my goal of "using up what I have," one of the things I've been trying to do here is include more of my photographs in my journals. This little heart leaf has been in my stash for a while. I captured it in the parking lot on campus a couple years back. I'm always on the lookout for hearts in nature. This week took me back on the road for our FCSAA Winter Music Symposium. Lucky for me, it was in Jacksonville, so I got to spend a fews days at Home. Looks like I also got two shelters day in that week, one in Tallahassee and one in Jacksonville. Bonus!



Another thing I've been practicing with these past two DLP journals, in addition to using up what I have, is that some weeks I just need to embrace simplicity. That may mean using a page from a magazine that really speaks to me or, as in this case, using a fun little postcard size message. I do a lot of juggling in my life, and I'm a chronic over-scheduler (I don't think I know how to live any other way...), so one way I do try to manage that is by being okay with a really simple page on occasion. After all, I don't think art journaling would be fun if it became a chore, right?


To see my 2016 Documented Life Project, click here. For 2015, click here. And for 2014, click here. I'll continue posting 2017 by the month until I get caught up posting! Thanks for stopping in today!  I'm excited to be heading up to Donna Downey Studios this weekend to take an art journaling class with Pam Carriker

Monday, July 31, 2017

Best Shot Monday: Meet A Very Special Four-Legged Boy


As a shelter dog photographer, sometimes you can't help but fall in love (over and over and over again...). Meet Denver.  This boy was filthy, poopy dirty, but so incredibly full of love, so after I finished my photo session the day I met him, I gave him a bath. Such a sweet gentle boy! He loved his bath, probably because it simply felt like someone loving on him. The shelter has been incredibly overcrowded this summer. At one point, Jacksonville's Animal Care and Protective Services was sheltering 739 animals in a shelter designed to hold 364. Dogs were doubled up in kennels, with guillotine doors (usually only closed for cleaning) closed to allow two dogs to be sheltered in one run, essentially giving each one only about 3' by 4' of space, instead of their normal 3' by 8'. Denver was one of the doubled up dogs. So the very next day, guess who came home with me as a foster. Yep, Denver.

Denver smile

We had a week with this special boy, and I won't lie: we all fall hard for him. Taking the fosters back in for adoption is always the hardest part, and this time was the hardest ever. Thankfully, when I took Denver back to get ready for our MEGA Pet Adoption Event, he didn't have to go into a shared kennel, but, boy, was it hard for me to put him back in that run. Tons of tears kind of hard. I usually try to do a short goodbye, but Denver's kennel wasn't ready yet, so I sat with him for nearly 30 minutes waiting for it to be cleaned. We talked about what an awesome boy he is and what a special gift he was to our family for the week he spent with us, tears running down my cheeks the whole time (God bless our shelter staff who never once looked at me like I was crazy.)

Denver ball

If you've never fostered before, please consider it. It is such a blessing to be able to have these experiences, no matter the heartbreak that comes with saying goodbye when it's time. Hopefully we've helped Denver be better prepared to start his new life successfully. I had to go out of town the day after I dropped Denver off for MEGA, but my husband sat at MEGA with him, advocating for him until he was adopted. Thankfully, that didn't take long at all! MEGA started at 10am, and Denver went home with his new forever family at 11:45am! Happy Tails, Denver!  Thank you for sharing your love with us.  

Monday, June 26, 2017

Best Shot Monday: Besties

Three amigos

These three have been best friends since they met in preschool at three years old. When we made the move to Tallahassee but kept our home in Jacksonville, this was part of the reason why: life-long friendships. I shared in this post that I've had a lot of different addresses. (I mentioned in this post that I wouldn't mind NOT finding the right family to rent our home to, and we didn' I love that we still have Home with a capital H, as I sit here right now writing this at Home...) 

When I was growing up and moving around, we didn't have the internet, Instagram, Facebook, Facetime, texting, online Minecraft battles, and all those other myriad ways to keep in touch with friends not in the same city as you. It's been fun for me using those avenues (except for the Minecraft battles...) to catch up with old middle school and high school friends that I lost touch with.  Despite all the downsides that all this technology has brought us at times, I'm so happy my girls have that technology now.  Pretty sure this will be one of those life-long friendships. Thank you, Lord, for this blessing.  

Monday, June 19, 2017

Best Shot Monday: Meet Morning Glory

Morning Glory_A1049840

I get to spend a good bit of time working from home in Jacksonville this summer, so that means I'm able to get back into my "home" shelter for photos! I spent this morning with the pups at Jacksonville's Animal Care and Protective Services. It was a bit of a challenging day since they are replacing the air handlers at the shelter. That meant that each back yard enclosure door that exits each run was largely blocked with a large portable a/c unit, with its exhaust vent propping the door open. The dogs and I had quite an adventure making it around that for each exit and entry back into the run!

Morning Glory here was a lot of fun. This girl has been at the shelter since early February, nearly six months. Can you believe it? She can't; that's why she's sticking her tongue out at you. She's a Lab mix, about six years old, chock full of personality. She's available for adoption at ACPS, 2020 Forest Street, Jacksonville.

Friday, June 16, 2017

2016 Documented Life Project: December


Whoo hoo! I've finally made it to the last month of my 2016 Documented Life Project! And I'm not quite six months late! :-) I'll skip the narrative this time and just share with you how much I've enjoyed this project the past few years. I've done something a little different each year, and while 2017 is proving to be pretty similar to 2016 (with the goal of using up just what I have ... and apparently I have way too much to use up), I'm keeping it up. The only thing I'm finding is that I really don't care for the actual "calendar page" parts. I think I'd just rather just do a simple background with some quick highlights of the week instead of following that restrictive grid format. The second half of 2017 may see that. Thanks for sticking with me through this project! Scroll to the bottom of the post for links to the full project!






To see the rest of my 2016 Documented Life Project, click here. For 2015, click here. And for 2014, click here. Up next, 2017!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Best Shot Monday: Meet Raisin


How about a Best Shot Monday on a Wednesday? It's summer time! Nothing is on schedule! I spent yesterday afternoon at the shelter in Tallahassee hanging out with sweet pups like Raisin. This little gal is so much fun. She runs, runs, run, and then just stops right next to you ... and I mean right next to you. The only way I was able to get a good photo of her for the website was with her looking directly up at me like this. But I love the shot!

Raisin is available for adoption at the City of Tallahassee Animal Service Center.  Adopt, don't shop!  There are thousands of wonderful pets waiting on you in your local animal shelters.  And they truly know they are rescued...and they often rescue you in the process.   

Monday, June 5, 2017

Best Shot Monday: Meet Lexi


Meet, Lexi! I photographed this sweet girl about a month ago, and I'm so surprised she hasn't been snatched up yet! She's a good size, not too big, not too small, walks well on her leash, loves to play fetch, and is just an all around great dog. She's been in the shelter for about six weeks now. I always wonder why dogs like Lexi sit there waiting for a while. Her kennel presentation is pretty good, and she's obviously adorable. I mean, seriously! Look at that face! She has a little bit of hair loss on her chest, but that's likely just due to kennel stress. Once she's in a good home, that'll grow back in nicely.

Give shelter dogs a chance, everyone! You'll find that they rescue you in the long run. Lexi is available for adoption at the City of Tallahassee Animal Service Center.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Best Shot Monday: Remember

Cross City

As I was traveling home from my meetings in Tampa last week, I stayed off the interstate and took the back roads. I came upon this site in Cross City in Dixie County. There were a couple hundred of these flags lining Highway 98, memorializing fallen soldiers.  I took the photo with my phone and I see now that I really have my glasses on that it's a little fuzzy, but I wanted to share it just the same. I just thought they were so beautiful. Happy Memorial Day to those in the United States. Remember and honor those who have given their lives for our country. Thank you, service men and women. 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

2016 Documented Life Project: November


Finally catching up on posting the last of my 2016 Documented Life Project! Work has been crazy lately! :-) So here's November. This first spread I clearly took the easy way out and pulled a piece of great magazine art and called it a day there on the left. This first week of November included our state volleyball tournament. She girls came with me and the husband went home to Jacksonville for a few days, so one of my sweet Chi Omega officers pet sat for us. She left me the sweetest note on the counter when I got home so I popped it in here. I'm finding that this project really is a great way to capture the little bits and pieces of your life that you'd like to hang on to, but just can figure out what to do with.


The challenge for the week above was do something with your initial. The redheads and I had the opportunity to visit the Ringling Museum and Mansion where we were at the volleyball tournament and captured this sweet pic of my little ladies on the steps of the mansion. Worth the visit!


The challenge above was pretty funny: use something from the bottom of your purse. I just so happened to have a receipt in there from our lunch date with bonus daughter Courtney that week. We went to the Riverside Arts Market that morning and then had lunch at Al's Pizza. I pulled the page on the right from the art journal I started creating in Melody's class at Serendipity a few years back.


Back side of the Serendipity page journal here, using one of my cow photos. This was Thanksgiving week, so we were home for a few days and went to see Fantastic Beasts with Hailey G.


The tail end of November and the first couple days of December brought my birthday and Sarah's band marching in the Winter Festival parade. Her first parade! I can't remember for the life of me what this journal challenge was, but I'm guessing it was something to do with stencils! So that's it for November! December coming up next week and then I'll start sharing 2017!

The Art 5 ladies aren't hosting the challenge in 2017, but I've enjoyed it so much these past three years that I'm keeping it up. As I mentioned at the top of this post, it's really been a great way to gather life's ephemera and make me print out some of those photos on my phone! Check out the Art 5's offerings here. You can see more of my 2016 journal here, my 2015 journal here (which I'm still working through...) and my 2014 journal here. Now go make some art!