Category: My Life

Back to the Grind: My Summer Off

Trinidad, CA

So far, 2015 has proven to be a busy year. I feel like I’ve been on the go since the beginning, and a lot of changes and new beginnings have presented themselves in the past 7 months. As the school year wrapped up and summer began, I readied my summer to do list, which included posting regularly to my blog. While 2015 has been an eventful year for me personally, my blogging life has fallen a little flat, and summer was no exception. In between the vacations and projects, I kept pulling up my site, starting a post, before being distracted by something else. Eventually I hit a point where I decided it was okay to take a break. What used to be a passion had suddenly turned into a to do burden. I was no longer putting the time or effort into my posts to make it worthwhile for me to write or my readers to read. But now I find myself back from summer and excited to share my new projects and life stories. I look forward to once again fulfilling my weekly goal of sharing my interests with you!

New Orleans

Lets recap. January started off slow and typical. Winter was cold, snow never coated the ground, the weather was dreary, and I was feeling the gray creeping inside my brain. I was tired, run down, and needed a pick me up. I got just what I needed in the coming months, and the work/sleep/eat routine was broken in February when I took my first trip to New Orleans for Mardi Gras 2015.

It was an experience like no other, in a city like no other. I felt the tremors of the city as soon as we hit the bridges leading into town. There is an underlying sense of excitement and life in every tree, building, plate of food, and person you pass by. The city is full of color and culture. I took in the beautiful, huge, stretching trees that I have come to associate with my childhood and the south. My eyes devoured the architecture, flying beads, and costumes, while my stomach ate up some of the best food I have ever had. I ate my first crawfish out of a bag, sitting on the ground in the park. It was a beautiful city and breath of fresh air, just what I needed to get back on track.

Seattle to San Fran

Not long after our trip to New Orleans, I was once again packing my bags, getting ready for Nick and my long awaited west coast adventure. For 10 days wse spent time on foot, in cars, on bicycles, on buses, and hiking trails from Seattle to San Francisco. My recently relocated cousin gave us a good excuse to go out to Seattle and visit. What began as a long weekend trip turned into an all out tour of the Pacific northwest. This trip was a like no other, and is an experience I will never forget.

Each city was as unique and interesting as the last. In Seattle I discovered a city built on hills, with an underground city hiding underneath. In Portland I found amazing natural beauty nestled directly outside of skyscrapers. In northern California I fulfilled my childhood dream of standing in front of a redwood and we feel asleep to the sound of barking of sea lions. In San Francisco I saw an amazing harmony of cultures coexisting in the bay side city. In ten days we experienced mountains, forests, beaches, and cities. I wore sundresses in the sand, galoshes in torrential downpours, and layers of coats in feet of snow.

This trip was not only a testament to our beautiful country, culture, art, and architecture, but it was also a reminder of how much I love my Nick. We packed into our tiny rental and drove hours from location to location. Perhaps we would have made better time if we didn’t stop every mile on the Pacific Coast Highway for me to snap yet another picture, but Nick noticed every time my eyes lit up in need of another snapshot memory. I never tired of his company, I could have spent another 10, 20, 30 days packed into a car with just him, touring the countryside and cityscapes.

Many of the pictures I took on this trip have already made their way into my encaustic art. Be on the lookout for future posts about my new projects!

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Although it was difficult to leave our vacation bubble and return to the real world, I headed back feeling rejuvenated. I was so inspired by everything I saw, felt, and experienced, and I couldn’t wait to infuse that into my teaching, artwork, and home. With the passing of March came the warming of the air, spring showers, and the coming and going of my busiest time of year at school. Before I knew it, summer was on the cusp, and so was our first dinner club.

As an effort to keep in touch with our dear friends in our growing, busy lives, Nick and I decided to get a group together once a month to eat good food, share recipes, and enjoy each other’s company. The first one was hosted at our house, a crawfish boil in the backyard. It was a taste of New Orleans brought home, the perfect start to the spring and coming of summer.

CharlestonBefore I could even start my summer countdown, school was over. I began my first weekend of summer in one of my favorite southern cities, Charleston. It marked the beginning of my much needed extended vacation, a very busy wedding season for Nick and I, and the addition of a sister-in-law to my seemingly ever growing family. We celebrated Nick’s brother marrying his perfect match, and spent the weekend piled into a house on the beach with his parents, 5 siblings, significant others, and extended family.

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We were reunited with Nick’s sister, brother-in-law, and our two nieces in the house on Folley beach. After a year in Italy, it was wonderful to see their faces again, hear about their traveling adventures, and witness the hyperactivity of toddlers. It also gave me the chance to give Kyla her birthday teapot, designed to fit her two year birthday theme, Carnivale, a traditional celebration in Italy. Be on the look out for a more extensive post about this tea set in the future.

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I was very spoiled to be able to enjoy three weeks of my summer in Hilton Head Island. Hilton Head has been a part of me since I can remember. Every summer our family of five braved the five plus hour drive to the small, tennis shoe shaped island off the coast of South Carolina. We learned to crawl, walk, and ride bikes on the sandy beach. I realized my first nugget of independence as my parents allowed the kids to ride the bike trails unsupervised.

This summer was spent between two houses, which felt like a living metaphor. The old and the new, the coming and the going. My parents closed on a new property in Hilton Head in the spring. A beautiful house, only one street away from the original house, but many steps closer to the beach. Although my parents are keeping the partnerships of both houses intact, there was something monumental about heading to the new property. All the kids are grown up, my sister already has one of her own learning to run on the beach just like we did. The old house will always hold the memories of my siblings and I growing up, but I know this new house will soon hold the memories of our kids growing up.

Sarah Showers

After Hilton Head, another wedding was celebrated in another amazing southern location, Asheville, North Carolina. As I headed home I began planning a bridal shower for another future sister-in-law, Sarah, and getting information about her bachelorette party, to be held at the end of summer. A couples shower cook out was hosted at my house, full of crafty projects and decor I can’t wait to share. Be on the lookout for these how tos coming soon. Since January I have gained two more sisters. I am incredibly lucky my brother-in-laws know how to pick girls I click with, I couldn’t ask for better family.

Aruba Scenes

The next wedding location of the season required an international voyage to Aruba. Nick was honored as Jared’s best man as he married his other half, Ashley. Not only did we get to see some of our best friends commit their lives to each other, but we got to do it in an unbelievable location. For five days we sat next to turquoise waters, tanned alongside iguanas, and ate fresh-caught-daily seafood.

5 Year Wedding Anniversary

A few days after Jared and Ashley tied the knot, Nick and I celebrated five years married. Aruba was the perfect location for our anniversary celebration, and our last full day on the island, we spent together, crammed on a 1980’s dirt bike touring the island. I can’t believe we have been a couple for 10 years, with 5 years of marriage under our belts. I’ve never regretted picking him, I’m not sure I had a choice in the matter, it felt right from day one. As I’ve said before, and as I will say again, I think we have at least another 75 years together in us.

Starlight Six Drive In

The end of summer is bittersweet. I begin to realize I am losing a portion of my freedom for another nine months, but I am also ready to see my kiddos, and ready for my birthday, which always seems to mark my last weekend of summer. Year 28 of my life was closed out with a drive in movie, lots of junk food, and lots of attention and love from my family and hub. School was about to start again, and it was time to wrap my head around the coming work, and get ready for another great year.

Cooper James

In addition to all of our trips and busy schedules, we also found out we were pregnant with our first baby in March. Now I find myself back to school, almost 7 months pregnant, planning a nursery, and prepping for our baby boy. I can’t wait to see his sweet face in flesh and color, and discover which features he decided to model after his dad and which ones he modeled after me. With the coming of baby also brings a lot of home projects, which will also be coming soon to my how tos.

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I hope you enjoyed the recap of the last 7 months, and I promise to stay on top of my postings as things continue to get busier. Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog. Help spread the word about easy craft projects, art making techniques, and visual journaling by sharing it with others! Thanks for stopping by.

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T.G.I. Friday’s Summer of Fridays Tour: Artists and Crafters Feature

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I am so excited to share a recent feature of mine in T.G.I. Friday’s new campaign, local and handmade.

In an effort to rebrand their company, T.G.I. Friday’s has been busy meeting artists, crafters, musicians, and all people artsy across the US. To keep with the theme they recruited photographers from Instagram to document these “makers of America.”

Through the Atlanta based, all things handmade shop, Crafted Westside, I was brought to the attention of the tour and photographer, Daniel Davis. I meet with him one morning at Crafted, and enjoyed talking about his last 3 month adventure traveling down the East Coast, meeting a variety of crafters. He took amazing photographs of my work, and included a wonderful write up on the TGIF, “Summer of Fridays,” blog.

mug TGIF

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Thank you to Daniel Davis and TGIF for giving me this amazing opportunity! The stories and photographs are art in themselves. Thanks for checking out my blog. Help me spread the word about it by sharing with others! I couldn’t do it without you. Thanks for stopping by.tumblr_nav6yrtlkJ1tx0d9wo2_1280

2013 Lickskillet Artist Market: Athens, GA

Lickskillet 2013 poster

If you happen to be in the Athens, GA area this Saturday between the hours of 10am and 4pm, come by and visit me! My wonderful husband, Nick and I will be manning my booth at the 2013 Lickskillet Artist Market! I will have my encaustic silhouette paintings, encaustic letter paintings, glass dish ware, and larger paintings for sale. I will also have some beautiful glass pendants by Anne Ward (my wonderful Mom).

See the above poster for details and the below images for a sneak peak of what I will have! Thanks for supporting local and handmade!

Antique and Vintage Inrpired Typewriter- Encaustic Collage Art

Shabby Chic Encaustic Letter t PaintingShabby Chic Hot Coffee Silhouette Encaustic Collage Art

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Backyard Chickens: My Journey from Chicks to Chickens

Chicks

For the past year my husband, Nick, and I have talked about getting chickens. Neither of us have ever owned chickens, or for that matter even known someone else who has had chickens, but the idea was appealing. I love the idea of having a new pet, and a pet that lays fresh eggs. Backyard chickens is definitely on the rise on my area, and I was ready to jump on the bandwagon

After one of my friends bought three hens I began thinking about it more seriously. After perusing Craigslist and finding a couple of chick sellers, my husband said, “well why don’t you just go buy some today?” That was all I needed, next think I knew I was in the car driving towards adorable, 1 week old, baby chicks.

At the first stop I bought a Buff Orpington, Rhode Island Red, and Sex Link chicks. After bringing home my three babies I decided to go out yet again and buy a Barred Rock chick, because I loved the black and white striped pattern they get as adults. I was assured by both sellers that all chicks would grow up into egg laying hens, and I was feeling pretty good about my decision.

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Our babies were set up in a very large, blue plastic storage bin bought at Lowe’s. I put pine shavings in the bottom (apparently you need to stay away from cedar based shavings), and until I got to a chicken store I bought a bird feeder and waterer, which worked very well temporarily.  I also made a small roosting pole using flat pieces of molding and 1/2″ dowels. I spray painted the pieces, drilled holes into the molding, and attached the dowels. It was a very simple process and my babies loved their mini perch. I was able to get a bag of Tucker chick starter feed from one of my chick sellers, and I was set up and ready to raise my babies.

The chicks slept A LOT at first, however each day they seemed to get a little more chiper and active, except one. Our little Rhode Island Red, Gretchen, never seemed to grow or develop like the rest, and she began sleeping more and more, rather then less like the others. Unfortunately we woke up one morning in the first week to find Gretchen hadn’t made it, which was truly heartbreaking…. but I was glad to see our other chicks were still thriving.

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I loved seeing all of their personalities come through. Richard Parker (Sex Link) was the calmest, and happily allowed us to hold him and snuggle him, Zachary Binks (Barred Rock) had attitude, didn’t like to be held, and was a little tough guy, Amy (Buff Orpington) seemed like mama hen, and was growing the fastest, I think she is a week older than the other two.

I did have some issues with pasty butt with Amy and Richard Parker (where their poop sticks to the feathers around their butt, which can cause backup, and even death). I had to clean them up everyday for the first couple of weeks. Zachary Binks never had a problem, probably because I bought him with a bare butt. I believe his original owner pulled the feathers around his chick’s butts to prevent this from happening. Although it was nice to not have to worry about him I must say I was relieved when his feathers finally began sprouting down there. I was convinced I was going to end up with a bare butt hen.

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Although it was tough losing Gretchen, I think I will always raise my chickens from chicks. It’s fun to watch them grow, and they get used to you. We made it a point to handle each one of them daily to make them used to us, although Zachary still doesn’t like it.  Each day I would go in and visit with my babies, and each day it seemed like they grew a little bigger or sprouted a new feather.

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After the first week the babies and I took our very first field trip to the backyard. We live in the city of Atlanta, which has a notorious city hawk problem. I was terrified of every squawk and flapping I heard, and continuously hovered over my precious babies. It was amazing to see them teetering around in the grass, exploring the great outdoors, and seemingly pecking and tasting everything. After a successful first outing I made sure to get them outside every day for a little fresh air, with serious supervision of course.

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Amy (Buff Orpington) was the first to sprout her big girl feathers, and they started coming in at full force around the middle of the third week. As her feathers pushed through it looked like she was growing red dreadlocks on her head and around her neck. I was surprised to see the chick that I assumed would be light tan, or a buff color, hence the name, growing red feathers.

Soon after Amy’s feathers began coming in Richard and Zachary started losing their baby feather on their wings, I was thrilled to see Zachary’s striped pattern coming through.

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I was becoming mama hen to my chick-a-dees and I loved it! I would drag their enormous bin outside daily, and release them in our backyard to explore. As soon as I would sit near them they would hustle over and fight for a perch spot on my legs. It was so sweet, until one of them would leave a very smelly surprise behind. The one downside I have discovered from owning chickens is the smell, their droppings aren’t like a hamster’s, a small annoyance, a chicken’s surprise is a VERY smelly one. We kept our chickens inside until they were around two months old, and by the end I was changing their shavings out every other day because the smell was so bad. Needless to say I was relieved when they moved outside.

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I love their little dinosaur feet! It’s crazy to see their scaly legs against their soft feathers! Zachary always seemed to have sores on his feet. I read that sometimes the other chicks will mistake toes for worms, or other food, and will peck each other. As they grew up and moved outside it became less of a problem.

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Their awkward teens was a constant source of entertainment. Their feathers grew in as soft looking spikes until they eventually spread into wide feathers. The combination of their spikes and baby down was ridiculous looking. It was crazy to think just a month prior I was able to hold all three in one hand, and now It took two hand to pick them up.

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If you are a regular reader, by now you know I have a Beagle mix, Jacob and Husky-German Shepard mix, Kody Bear. I was very nervous about introducing the dogs to the chickens, and at first they were both very intense and wanted nothing more than a little chicken taste. However, over time, by slowly bringing them out (on leashes) and eventually letting them off leash, watching with a close eye, they seemed to get along. Jacob will sniff them for a minute, and then mind his own business. I can trust Jacob enough to turn my back on him, and work in the garden, however Kody Bear will never get to that point. I think he has too much killer instinct in him, and he never gets enough of sniffing our chickens. I don’t think Kody and the chickens’ relationship will ever go beyond a very controlled environment.

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After a little over two months the chickens made their transition outside! I was very excited to move them out, the smell was overwhelming in the house. I will post about the coop building process soon! It’s still a work in progress, but we are closing in on the end! Another great option for a pre-made coop, which is also a lot less work, is a shed. They can easily be converted into a coop by adding a nesting box and a few roosting poles. Check out Steel Chief for great customizable options.

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Sometime in week 11 a dread began creeping in my belly. I began noticing differences between Richard Parker and the other two. “Her” comb and wattle was twice as large as her sisters and was quickly turning bright red. I tried to push the worry aside, after all sex link chicks are breed specifically to easily tell them apart. “She” couldn’t be a rooster, she was definitely a hen.

However, in week 12 I discovered, to my horror, a lovely, shiny, green feather sprouting from her tail. I could no longer deny it, my Sex Link hen was turning into a rooster, and what I assume is a Rhode Island Red. I immediately began my research and discovered that in the city of Atlanta I can have a rooster, and if you grab fertilized eggs within the first few days of them being laid they are just like any other egg. For now Richard is staying with us, his crow will begin in months 5 or 6. The main issue is my attachement to him. From the beginning he has been my favorite, and still lets me hold him with no protest. He is the first to run over and say hello, and I can’t give that up yet. We still haven’t broken the news to our neighbors…

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After discovering we had 2 hens and a rooster we decided to add a new hen to our flock. We did some research and found someone selling 4 month old Americaunas. It was the perfect fit. She was close in age to the others, and I was dying to see what these blue and green eggs would look like.

Introducing a new chicken to a already existing flock can be tricky. The pecking order has to be reestablished, and the newcomers are often outcasts for awhile. I was concerned with possible bloody fights, and was very nervous about putting Wendell through that (lovingly named by Nick). We kept her inside the first night, and put her in an enclosed space outside the next day. We did the “seeing but no touching” approach and planned to sneak her into the coop that night.

Apparently by placing them in with the rest while the others are sleeping makes the acceptance process easier. Somehow by waking up together the other chickens assume the newbie has been there the whole time. We were set and ready to go to sneak Wendell in after dark… at least that was the plan…

Later in the evening I went out to check on Wendell and I couldn’t find her in her enclosed space! I had a minor heart attack until I peeked in the coop and saw her already in with the rest. I immediately went inside and blamed Nick for putting her in too early… but he had no idea what I was talking about! Some how Wendell got out of her space and into the coop completely on her own. I guess she was ready to introduce herself to the others before we were.

The following days were tough on Wendell and me. The others pecked her any time she approached, and she mostly hung out by herself. I felt so bad taking her from her family, to a strange place, only to be bullied. But with each passing day the foursome began spending more and more time together, and now two weeks later they are inseparable.

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Our hens should start laying around 5 months old and I can’t wait! If you are thinking about chickens, but can’t decide, just do it. They are adorable, have ridiculous personalities, and are so much fun to watch. At this point I think I will have chickens forever. We will just have to find a way to move our 3 ton coop to our next house!

Thanks for visiting my blog and reading about my chickens! Look for my coop how to post in the near future! Help me spread the word about my blog by liking, tweeting, sharing, and commenting! Thanks for stopping by.

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Philadelphia, New Years, Las Vegas, and Amazing Art

Nick and me on a trip to Philadelphia! We went up for his Cousin’s wedding, and stayed a couple extra days to tour the city. I truly am a southern girl, and I have only ventured North once, to New York City, a few years ago. I was very excited when I had the opportunity to go North again, and to a very cool city. I loved the mix of old a new, and I especially loved seeing all of the public artwork, including the LOVE sculpture! It was a fun surprise to walk around the corner and see this.

I love Claes Oldenberg, and when I found out we were going to Philadelphia I couldn’t wait to see his clothes pin! I have put this image in so many powerpoints over the years for my sculpture classes, and I was thrilled I was going to actually see it in person! Despite the impressive size of his sculptures, I actually expected this to be bigger! It still is an amazing piece.

You can’t go to Philly without running up the “Rocky” steps. I couldn’t wait to do it, and I was even more excited when I found out they were the steps leading up to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. We later toured the museum, which houses a Degas sculpture that I have a poster of in my classroom, as well as a number of other amazing artists such as Van Gogh, Toulouse-LauTrec, Monet, Jasper John, Lichtenstein, etc.

Nick posing with the Rocky sculpture outside of the museum. Who knew that among famous soldiers we would also create a memorial for a fictional character in a movie. You gotta love America’s love for movies, it was an amazing moving after all!

 

Nick and Me by the campfire at the cabin we stayed at for New Years. It was perfect! We went up with my sister-and-law, her boyfriend, and two of their friends. We spent the weekend hiking, sitting in the hot tub, reading, and playing games. I couldn’t ask for a better start to 2012!

Me in Las Vegas with a Claes Oldenburg sculpture, I love his work!