Monday, January 16, 2012

It's a Dog's World...

David and I have been married for nearly 4 years now. The burning question that I hear from people all the time is, "When are ya'll going to have a baby?" It's funny. If for any reason my stomach hurts, I'm tired, or if I dare become nauseated the first thing that comes to everyone's mind is "OMG, you are pregnant!" Don't get me wrong, I am guilty of doing the same thing to my closest friends. I understand the excitement. The idea of one day carrying and having David's baby makes me feel even closer to him then I already do. One day...

Until that ONE day becomes today, David and I play "Mommy and Daddy" to four very spoiled dogs. Okay, they aren't as spoiled as some dogs that I know but they pretty much get what they want. And I will say that, for the most part, they are very well behaved. Well, at least Kya and Goose are. Bella has some manners and well, like most babies of the family, Tank has little to no manners at all. But, he is pretty stinkin' cute.

 Hold on-- I need for you to understand, David and I did not go out and adopt four dogs. They just kind of accumulated over the years.

Kya is David's lab/weim mix from early college. She was adopted from the J and J flea market and lived in a house with five freshmen college boys. I should say a,"Bless her heart" is definitely in order. I am surprised she doesn't have permanent damage from all she witnessed in that household.

Goose is our next "child." Goose entered my life about 3 days after I met David at the Great Southland Stampede rodeo. But, that is a totally different story in and of itself. I got Goose (the Moose) from a farm down in Quitman. I had just moved back to Georgia from Arizona and was living in the Reproduction Facility (it was a barn, facility makes it sound a little cleaner) on South Milledge and was working for the UGA Beef Unit. I lived in this barn by myself and I needed some company. Thus, Goose was purchased. He is a standard Collie/Australian Shepherd cross and could do some basic herding. Also, he was so cute that my boss would let me bring him with me while I fed the cows and sheep every day.

Goose "The Moose" on Christmas morning being ridden by my niece, Addie. 

David and I dated through our junior and senior years of college. During this time, he had Kya and I had Goose. After we graduated and started working, David and I moved in together. David had purchased this cute little house out in the country of Madison County and I needed a place to live. So, I moved in and we became a unit of 4.

During this time, I got a job at Fowler Drive Elementary School. I was working as instructional support for students with disabilities. One day, it was raining and cold. I was driving home towards Madison County when I spotted this pretty little silver pup on the side of the road of North Avenue. I stopped traffic to get out of my car and pick up this pretty baby. Her six week old tummy was swollen and she was very scared. I took her back to Madison County. When I got home, David was so upset with me. He said, "absolutely not! We will NOT be keeping her." It took five minutes before she walked over, laid her little head on David's foot, took a long ragged breath and fell asleep. She knew she was safe and home. David never mentioned finding Bella (our baby number 3) a home again.

"Bella Blue"

Sleeping on the way back from South Georgia and making her "old lady face" while dreaming

We were done. No more dogs. At least, you would have thought that we were maxed out at three LARGE dogs. But, no. We weren't done. About a year later, we were still living in our little Madison County country house. A nice lady and her (rebellious teenage) daughter had moved in. The teenage daughter and her boyfriend brought home an American Bulldog/Pitbull mix. The pup was about 8 - 10 weeks old when she got him. However, despite her new pup at home it didn't deter the girl to run away for a time with her boyfriend. The lady, who hadn't wanted the dog to begin with, left the dog outside. For several weeks, the pup would travel down to the edge of our property and just sit and watch us play with our three dogs. He would never get close, but he would sit and watch, his tail wagging all the while. Another neighbor and her child nicknamed the pup, "Wheezy" because he had trouble breathing. They would leave food and water out for "Wheezy" because the mother of the rebellious teenage daughter did not. We noticed that "Wheezy's" body condition changed and he was sick and starving. David and I would get so angry that the owners were not taking care of this precious pup. But, it wasn't our job either, was it?

It all became clear one afternoon. David was home and cutting the grass in the front yard. I was at school. "Wheezy" had found something intriguing in the road. He had found something edible for him to eat. As mentioned before--he was starving. David stopped to watch "Wheezy" trot out into the road when all of a sudden he heard the growl of a large semi-truck heading Wheezy's way.  My husband has a huge heart and couldn't stand to see the pup suffer a moment longer. David ran into to road, grabbed "Wheezy" and placed him in the back yard with our other 3 babies. When I arrived home that afternoon, our family of 5 had just gained another member. This time I told David, "No, we cannot keep him. We cannot have 4 dogs, it's ridiculous." And so I found "Wheezy" a new home....only when the time came to give him away I couldn't do it. And so "Wheezy" became our youngest baby, Tank aka "Tinkerbell,""Stink," or "Winky."
"Wheezy" the day David saved him from the road.

Tank now. Fat and Happy. 

I feel very fortunate that my husband is an animal lover like me. I know that sometimes people look at us like the crazy "dog" people but I don't care.  Dogs are so excited to see you when they wake up in the morning and are always there to greet you when you get home at night. They are patient, kind, loving and loyal. In fact, I think we, as humans, could all learn a thing or two from the love and loyalty of a dog.

So, at this time, David and I are unclear as to what our future may hold for children. But, until then, I plan to continue to learn from my pups. And I hope one day that I can become more like them-- the person worthy of their loyal wagging tails and wet kisses....

** Please get involved with your local humane society or animal shelter. Even if you cannot have a dog, you can always donate wet or dry food, old blankets, toys, money, or your TIME. Volunteering your time to give a pup a kind moment is often times the only thing they need. For more information on how to get involved in the Athens area please visit: Athens Pets. **

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Blog Maintenance....Not one of my strengths.

I wish I had more time. Or, I wish blogging was more convenient. Like, I could do it while teaching a math lesson to my students or while studying to go back to school. Blog writing...not something to include in my repertoire of strengths.

I envy those people who can sit down at the computer and produce a beautiful, prolific piece of writing. Me? I teach math. Give me a math problem. Heck, give me something to do with science. But, when it comes to writing-- I am all out of ideas.

I try though. I cannot tell you how many times I have sat down at my computer to write another entry to this blog. I have written, erased, re-written, deleted...and this process just continues. It has continued....since August.

I have several commitments that I make that I default my gym membership. I loathe going to the gym. I love running outside. I love going for a walk with my husband and dogs. It's not exercise that I hate. It is just something about a gym that causes nightmares for me. Don't get me wrong, I continue to pay the monthly fee. And I suppose I like to consider myself "in shape" because I at least have a gym membership. But, similarly to may blogging weakness, I have a gym weakness.

Not too long ago, my mother told me that "it takes doing something 7 times repeatedly (in a row) to create a habit." I find this to be great advice. I don't know if this would be considered scientifically proven, so don't quote me. But, what a great building block to creating habits that you would like to make permanent staples in your life. I imagine everyone has things they would like to change about themselves. I have several. Actually, I have more than several. I completely understand that I am an imperfect person. (However, my dogs believe me to be quite wonderful.)

Don't get confused. This is not a blog about a New Year's Resolution. This blog is about taking baby steps, repeating things 7 times (or more) to create the habits that you would like to have in your life. I wish I could maintain this blog and write interesting things. I would like to use my gym membership regularly. I would like to work hard every day at school for my kids and  leave by 4:00 to play even harder with my husband. I would like to really learn to play my guitar well. I would like to finish my workshop for my jewelry making. I would like to keep my house clean and my laundry mountains minimal. Habits.....great habits.

So, blogging, laundry, the gym....You gotta start on day one, right? One day down, only six more to go.......

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Everytime I say that word I have the urge to scream it as loud as I can and throw my fist into the air with my imaginary sword as to lead my troops into battle. I like to invision this scenario instead of me laying tied on a table with a masked man getting ready to chop my head off like Mel Gibson in "Braveheart." Regardless, Ol' Mel does it way better than I do and I am afraid that I may watch too much t.v.

Wednesday was my last day of summer freedom. I am officially back to school. I am not going to say anything negative about already being back at school because I am trying to mentally pump myself up for a new school year.

With that said, I had an absolutely amazing summer break. I played around and made some really fun, cute things that I wanted to share with you. Everything that I have made is a trial and error process. I am not a professional and do not pretend to be. Some of my creations do have imperfections and minor flaws. I like to think they are a reflection of myself....

First, I want to show you an idea that I got from Pinterest. If you aren't on pinterest, you need to be. You have to be invited, so if you would like to start an account let me know and I will send you an invite via email. It has so many "how to's" and "do it yourself" projects for the home and for parties. There is also a free app on the iPhone. I spend more time researching on pinterest than I do on facebook and that is saying something. Anyways, I found a picture of mason jars used as illuminaries and wanted to give it a try.

If you look on Craigslist in the Athens area under "free" or under materials for Arts and Crafts people have stuff like mason jars, old windows, used paints, etc. for free or practically nothing. Just be careful if you meet up with someone to get your purchases. There are some creepy people in the world.

So, I got these three mason jars and filled the bottoms with glass stones that I received in the bottom of a flower vase from a Valentine's Day gift or something. Then, I placed a small tea light candle on top of the glass stones. You probably don't want to place just the candle in the glass without a buffer like stones, sand or rocks because the glass could possibly get really hot and burn your hands and even break.

Next, I took hemp rope that I had from some jewelry making crafts and tied a bow around the top.

For the wire hanging part, I took wire from a picture hanging kit that someone gave to us when we got married and wrapped the wire around the lip of the mason jar and then made the handle. I know they aren't anything fancy, but I thought they looked pretty at night hanging from my shepherd's hooks. It gave my back deck a very relaxing and romantic feel. Cheap, easy, and pretty darn cute if you ask me.

Alright the next idea I had I got from Cherry Street Cottage. I really like this blog. She has a ton of "do it yourself" tutorials and ideas for your home and gifts for other people. I LOVE receiving handmade items from people. It just makes me feel special like they were actually thinking of me and making the gift only for me when it was being created. I don't know, maybe that is just my vanity coming out. Any who....I do enjoy a good homemade gift so I love all of the ideas that Jessica blogs about on Cherry Street. The link will take you straight to the fabric flowers tutorial.

I did find that when making these little rosettes that certain materials are easier to work with. Thicker upholstery materials are a little more difficult to work with because you do have to do a lot of folding. The thicker materials just did not want to stay put. In contrast, I also found that the slinkier, silkier materials make really small and tight roses. Either way, I had a blast trying the tutorial out and the more you make, the better your roses become!

Oh yeah, when completing the first steps of making the folds with the fabrics, I used the iron so that the folds would keep while I was rolling and folding. Otherwise, the fabrics kept coming undone and would make the flowers awkardly lumpy. The iron really made things easier and much neater.

Okay, next I have a sneak peek of something I am working on. They are not finished and I am not going to tell you what they will look like when they are completed. But...I am super excited.

Obviously, they are old Snapple bottles. I realized while drinking my delcious Peach Tea that there are convenient little "S" designs on each bottle. Since my last name begins with an "S" I just found this extremely convenient. As you can see, I have painted the "S" with blue paint. That is all I am revealing now. Hopefully I will have time to finish at least one of the bottles by this weekend, but I make no promises at the moment. Because, remember? That's right.... I am back in the school saddle again.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Old Blue Chair

Today is my last day of freedom. Although I am excited to get back to school to see the kids, I am pretty bummed because I had an incredible summer full of family, friends, 5:00 wine dates, suntanning, and exploring my right brain with arts and crafts. In my last few days of this wonderful summer, I have worked on a few projects around my house. First, I found this old blue chair with hideous upholstery at Agora.

Vintage Blue Chair from Agora's in Downtown Athens, Georgia - $20
 So, I found some pretty pale yellow silk striped upholstery from Hobby Lobby. It was the on the Clearance Rack for $3.00 a yard. Thus, I purchased one yard of my raw silk material to cover my blue chair.

$3.00 yellow silk from Hobby Lobby
I was lucky in that the chair's bones were in really great condition and I happen to love the color blue. My husband, on the other hand, is not totally sold on another chair in our house and the fact that it's blue is not winning any votes. It's kind of a silly story, but I will tell you anyway.

So, I have a bit of a habit. I really like to collect old, vintage and antique chairs. Most would not object to such a trade, but my husband and I use to live in a 1500 square foot farmhouse in the country. There wasn't a whole lot of room for extra chairs and antiquties that needed some TLC. But, that did not stop me from stopping on the side of the road and picking up what other people had thrown out.

Don't get confused. I am not a dumpster diver or a hoarder. I am looking for items that, with care, could have another life. Lots of people do it and I am certainly not the first.

Anyways, so I would rummage through yard sales and junk shops to find pieces I could recreate. My first purchase were two Queen Anne end tables that I picked up at a garage sale. The man wanted to get rid of the end tables immediately and said he would give me the pair for $50. Well, the end tables were in great condition and the marble tops were orignal to the pieces. You know the kind that lift off and weigh close to $100 pounds? Yep, that's them. So, I took my steal of a deal home. I sanded, stained and sealed my new end tables. I recently went into a high end antique store and found a similar end table. The price for the one, you ask? That's right. The ONE end table was priced at a whopping $350. end tables are so much nicer.


Okay, so you are asking "What does the hubs have to complain about?" Well, after this first magnificent purchase I went a little nuts. Next, I found two chairs. One at a yard sale and one at a junk store. I don't think I even paid $20 total for both of them. One was in pretty rough condition and the other just needed stripping and restaining. I covered both with some material that my mom had at home.


I was pretty pleased how both turned out, which only fueled me to find and refinish more. By this time, we were at a maximum capacity at our little 1500 square foot farmhouse in the country. We had a home full of furniture (and I was not slowing down at the adding of more) plus 4 dogs that we had collectively rescued at some point in our lives. I thought David was going to have a heart attack. But, it didn't stop me.

Our Collection of Pups - Goose, Kya, Bella and Tank

I was driving along Highway 72 in Madison County, Georgia when I saw 6 formal dining chairs on the side of the road in front of a huge horse farm. I immediately pulled over in my black F-150 and loaded all six chairs up in the back. I knew that David would not be pleased that I was brining MORE chairs into our tiny space, but everyone knows that formal dining chairs are the expensive part of the dining room table and chair combo. Structurally, all of the chairs were in great condition. I couldn't believe my luck! Six beautiful chairs for free!

So, my mom and I sanded, restained and covered these chairs with upholstery that we found at an antique store in Thomasville, Georgia. We bought the whole role of upholstery for $15 dollars. Ah-mazing! The chairs turned out incredible and I had the most expensive part of my formal dining room-to be. Now, I just needed a table and a house with a formal dining room.


Aftering storing my beautiful dining chairs in our cute bungalow in the country (which completely irritated my husband to have six chairs stored in the guest bedroom of our two bedroom home), we now officially have our own formal dining room. The chairs look great in the room and they look even better to me because I know how much money I did NOT pay for them! :)

Despite my talent in restoring old chairs, my husband still teases me every time I go junk store shopping or garage sale hopping that I "better not bring home anymore chairs." Well, you see how well I listen.

So, I purchased the vintage blue chair from Agora about a week ago and I hid it in one of our guest rooms that I knew he wouldn't have any reason to go in until I could recover it. That was, until he did. He found my forbidden fruit! But, he just shook his head and said "I knew it. I just knew it." He knows I cannot control my need to purchase/find old chairs to recover as much as he can control his desire to fly airplanes, ride dirt bikes or any other intense, life threatening, little boy's dream hobby he can have.

So, after all of that, let's get back to my blue chair that started this whole post. Here is the before picture of my blue chair again.

                 And here is the finished product. Do you love it as much as I do?


My new blue chair goes perfectly in my guest bedroom. And on a really good note, the hubs doesn't hate it as much as he thought he did. All is right in the world again...and I have plenty of places for you to sit. :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Exercising the Right Brain...

As I mentioned in my last post, I have been fulfilling my life's "to do" list which consists of art, music, furthering my education and traveling. While this is a work in progress, I wanted to share with everyone a little of my creative exploration from this summer.

While rummaging downtown in Athens' Agora Vintage Consignment shop, I was asked if I would consider selling some of my jewelry and art work. Well, I am not entirely sure that I am confident enough to sell my pieces, I have thoroughly enjoyed flirting with the idea. Thus, below is my first logo.

This summer I created the monogrammed notecard (inside the frame) while partcipating in a silk screen printing workshop. I started by sketching my initials and the love birds. Once I had my sketch the way I wanted, I painted the sketch onto a wooden silk screen frame using a blue waxy substance. After the whole silk screen printing process (and I skipped a lot to spare everyone the details), I was able to choose the colors I wanted for my monogram. The above print was only the second print I had ever made. Not too bad for a beginner silk screener....

Surrounding my silk screen print, are various pieces of jewelry hand crafted by yours truly. While I am still learning all the tricks of the trade, I have to say I have thoroughly enjoyed creating each piece. The most difficult part of making jewelry to me, is creating pieces that other people would wear and not just myself. I tend to love earthy tones and raw stones.

Silver plated monogram "G" with Lime Green Oval Stone and Glass Bead

I am trying to venture away from just making pieces for myself (as my husband is worried that we won't have anymore room in our walk-in closet) and start designing jewelry with a buyer in mind. Below are some of my first pieces. Please let me know which ones you like or if you have any constructice criticism for me.

          Amber Stone and Sterling "Snowflake" Design Necklace

                        Cobalt Glass Bead Dangles

                   Copper and Silver Beaded Earrings

I am super excited as I have signed up for a Jewelry Making course offered through the University of Georgia's Continuing Education Center. For those of you in the Athens area that are not familiar with courses they offer, here is the link: UGA's Continuing Education Personal and Professional Courses. They offer everything from a Spanish Certification, Painting, Photography, Jewelry Design, Music, to Drama. It's pretty amazing. They also offer several Professional Development courses. You should definitely check it out.

                  Cerulean Glass Everday Earrings

                 Cobalt "Create" Silver Necklace

My 5th grade students and I began making earrings last year as a way for us to raise money for a 3 day and 2 night trip to the Georgia 4-H Center at Jekyll Island. The trip is expensive and many of my students cannot afford the trip. Of course we have sold doughnuts, done the car wash thing, written persuasive letters to local companies, but none of the parents or kids were really excited about having to raise money. The fundraising had become another chore to them (and me).

So, after talking with one of the Special Education teachers, we decided to turn jewelry making into the 5th grade fundraiser. We taught the students how to make earrings and provided them with tools to create their designs. It was amazing. The kids were giving up their recesses and lunch time to make earrings to sell.

Also, they practiced their persuasive strategies (part of the 5th grade Literacy Georgia Performance Standards) in real life when we sold our hand crafted jewelry during the Open House of our new school, Parent-Teacher conferences and to their peers during their lunch times. Finally, we found a fundraiser that parents, teachers and students were excited about! And because everyone was truly invested in the fundraiser, we raised over $500!

  Turquoise Stone and                          Turquoise Stone and
  Silver Leaf Earrings                        Silver Tear Drop Necklace

    Black Onyx Beads and Silver Leaf Pattern Stamped
                        Charm Necklace

But, back to my Intermediate Jewelry Design course. I am really excited to set stones and work with different metals. I have started flirting with wire wrapping, but I don't feel like I have completely mastered all that I can with it.  I want to learn more! As my wire wrapping abilities improve, I will definitely post my new creations.

                 Copper and Silver Wire Wrapped Necklace

            Brown and Cream Multi-Strand Beaded Necklace
                      with Antique Cowgirl Charm

I have approximately 2 weeks until school begins and I intend to make the most of every single day. In fact, I have been searching ebay, etsy and other websites looking for my very own silk screen frame. I already have a few sketchs that I am excited to put on paper and possibly cloth material.

I have also been looking into Artini's or Pints and Paints. I would love to get together a few of my good friends, a bottle of wine and do some painting. If you are in the Athens area and want to join me, let me know asap!

The last few pictures are more of the silk screen prints and random jewelry shots that I have made. Enjoy! And again, I welcome your praises as well as your constructive criticisms! :) Now, go and play with your own right brain and create something beautiful!