Friday, January 30, 2009

I Live For Vacations

Like most people who work outside the home, I live for vacations. I carefully hoard my vacation each year and plan for the most fun during my time away from work. This year started with a Caribbean cruise with two more trips planned for the fall - bare boat sailing in the British Virgin Islands and taking our grandchildren to Disney World.

I am already busy planning for 2010. Yes, it's a long way from now, but I need something to look forward to. One vacation will be an Alaskan cruise. I've wanted to see Alaska for a long time and have finally convinced Doughboy to delay no longer. Click here to view the itinerary on the Norwegian Cruise Line web site.

This is another cruise offered by ScrapMap. The scrapbook I made for Doughboy's anniversary gift is a project taught by Teresa Collins from our cruise a couple weeks ago. She is tremendously talented in addition to being an average gal. She is the sole instructor for the Alaskan cruise and will be teaching classes when the ship is underway. At no time are classes scheduled when the ship is in port. There is plenty of time for shore excursions, such as whale watching in Glacier Bay, and enjoying the ship's amenities. For someone like me who is obsessed with scrapping and enjoys new adventures, it is the best of all worlds.

Come join us, won't you?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Labor of Love

Our 20th wedding anniversary is coming up in March. Being at a loss for the perfect gift for Doughboy, I decided to make it. I wanted it to be something memorable - something very special - and I'm almost finished. Here's a sneak peek at the anniversary scrapbook I made. It chronicles our married life - from the very unusual way we met, through the years, and to the present. The photos are of very poor quality. It's getting late and I didn't feel like changing my camera lens. But I think you'll get the idea.

To begin the slideshow, click on the white arrow and press your spacebar once. Pressing the spacebar will not work if you are in full screen mode. You may maximize the view by clicking the full screen icon after the slideshow has begun. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Wind Beneath Your Wings

My photo friend, Darlene and I ventured to the pond at Summer Grove hoping to find something to photograph. The temps made it into the low 50's and the midday sun made it feel warmer than it was. I miss the pond more than I realized. We were elated to find our family of Canada Geese that had stayed at the pond rather than migrate to wherever geese go.

I long for spring and the return of nature subjects to photograph. Soon...very soon.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Interview With Country Girl

Before I went on vacation, Country Girl Kate posted her interview with a fellow blogger. She offered to interview anyone who left a comment on her blog. Here's my first ever interview. Ready? Read on.

CG: I can see from your blog that you're a photographer. When did you discover the world of photography and what was your first camera?

Yes, I am obsessed interested in photography. I’m not very good at it, but I try. My interest in photography didn’t escalate until the birth of our 4-year-old grandson. I had a camera before then – a 35mm film camera – and took pictures only on special occasions and vacations. I am a Nikon user which began with my first digital camera about 7 years ago – a Nikon 5700. I was intimidated by digital technology at first. That lasted about 7 seconds. I quickly outgrew that camera and upgraded to a Nikon 8800, followed by a D200 and my current love – a D300. Along with my DSLR came an array of lenses. I am truly hooked and am rarely caught without my camera. I shoot anything; however, our grandchildren are my favorite subjects.

CG: It's obvious you love to travel. Please tell me your all-time favorite destination and when it happened.

This is a tough question because we love to travel. Doughboy and I have been everywhere in the Caribbean but we also enjoy traveling around the U.S. We tend to travel in the west and southwest – favorite ski destinations are Vail/Beaver Creek, Colorado; Park City and Salt Lake City, Utah; Grand Targhee and Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Other favorites are Albuquerque, Yosemite, and Lake Tahoe. As we get older, we prefer warm climates. Doughboy would agree that our favorite Caribbean vacation destination was Aruba - it was my daughter's high school graduation gift.

CG: What is your favorite dish?

I love all food. Look at me – can’t you tell? However, nothing beats thin crust pizza from Gino’s East (a Chicago eatery) and a cold beer. I'm a cheap date.

CG: What kind of music are you drawn to and what recording artists do you prefer?

My taste in music is very eclectic – I listen to classics (Frank Sinatra, Andy Williams, Tony Bennett, Barbra Streisand), 70’s and 80’s pop, and country (Brad Paisley, Faith Hill, Martina McBride, Kenny Chesney). If I had to choose a favorite artist, it would be Keith Urban. He is sooooo HOT!

CG: What would you consider your greatest achievement to date?

This is easy - my greatest achievement is being a mom. Jamie has grown into the most beautiful woman, inside and out. She is an incredible wife, mother, friend, and daughter. She has given me three wonderful grandchildren - I am incredibly proud of her!

Do you want to be interviewed by me? C'mon - it's not that difficult. If you do, here are the directions:
  1. Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me."
  2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. (I get to pick the questions).
  3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
  4. Include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
  5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

See? It's that easy! I look forward to learning more about you...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

New and Improved Flickr Slideshow

With each new post and upload of photos, I carefully monitor the available space remaining on my Blogger site. I am at 94% capacity and worry about running out of space. I have already coughed up the loot to increase my Blogger account, but even Blogger has limits. {sigh} Do I quit blogging? Nope, not yet. I'm a bloggy addict and enjoy having a blog almost as much as I enjoy reading blogs. This is one addiction I'm not prepared to give up. Even if there were such a program as Bloggers Anonymous, I doubt I would be successful in my recovery.

I realize that most of my Blogger space is chewed up by photo images. My only recourse, other than to start another Blogger site and link to the original one, is to limit the amount of photos I upload to blogger. But I LOVE photos! I may yet need to create another Blogger site, but for now Flickr comes to the rescue.

Flickr has upgraded to allow users more flexibility in embedding photo slideshows. Photos are stored on the Flickr web site - not on Blogger - thus saving precious space on my Blogger site. If you're new to Flickr, it's easy to set up a FREE account. You can begin uploading photos today and create slideshow sets. Also new to Flickr is the ability to order/purchase photos - this is a huge improvement.

Sets can then be embedded in Blogger as photo slideshows in bite-sized form. Just click the “Share” link from any slideshow, then copy and paste the embed code wherever you want. You can maximize the use of Flickr by paying a small fee for Flickr Pro - this provides unlimited use to Flickr's photo storage that even I won't max out anytime soon.

Lastly, you can embiggen a slideshow! Click the full size icon on the bottom right of any slideshow to have it take over your screen. Can I get an Amen? Amen.

The following is a sampling of the newly improved Flickr slideshow. They are projects made by instructors from the Ultimate Scrapbook Cruise. To begin the slideshow, click on the white arrow and press your spacebar once. The spacebar will not work if you are in full screen mode. You may maximize the view by clicking the full screen icon only after the slideshow has begun.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Jamaica, Mon

You are probably groaning..."Oh no. Yet another post about her cruise?" Cheer up, friends. Jamaica was the final port of call before our return to Ft. Lauderdale. Stay with trip down memory lane is almost over.

One week ago Doughboy and I had spent the day exploring Dunns River Falls and rode the ski lift to the top of Mystic Mountain. It was early morning when we arrived at the port of Ocho Rios in picturesque Jamaica. It was a beautiful picture perfect day with temps in the mid 80's - a long way from the 10 degree temps at home.

Since this is the last post about our idyllic Caribbean cruise, I must admit I'm having a difficult time letting go. For the past 9 years, Doughboy and I have seen each other mainly on weekends - that's an average of 8 days each month. His job takes him hundreds of miles away from home. Being on vacation, I saw him every day for a week. It was wonderful. Returning back to reality and the responsibilities of life, I miss him. A lot.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Grand Cayman Island

One week ago Doughboy and I had spent the day exploring Grand Cayman Island. The Cayman Islands are located in the western Caribbean Sea. They are the peaks of a massive underwater ridge, known as the Cayman Trench, standing 8,000 feet from the sea floor, which barely exceeds the surface. And like any island worth its salt, and sand, Grand Cayman has weathered a few hurricanes -- most recently Hurricane Ivan in 2004. The Cayman Islands are most known for its thousands of banks, making it a mecca for the rich and famous to dodge the IRS through protected offshore accounts. The pristine waters make it a popular destination for divers, snorkelers, and tourists wanting to escape the winter for white sand beaches.

Our shore excursion was a Jeep caravan around the island. We visited a beach, drove through a mangrove conservation area, and the town of Hell. Our excursion ended with lunch on famous 7 Mile Beach just a stone's throw from the port of George Town. It was also Doughboy's 62nd birthday which we celebrated back at our cabin. Thank you ScrapMap for the champagne and chocolate treats. And happy birthday, sweetheart...I love you!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Blogging for Brownie Points

I'm finally catching my breath and working my way through piles of laundry. Suitcases are empty and ready for their return to storage, clothes are washed and folded (not yet placed in drawers), and I'm cruising my favorite blogs. Doughboy is freezing his tushie off in Pittsburgh and my life is returning to a normal routine.

The winter CHA Convention and Trade Show takes place next week. For those familiar with the Craft & Hobby Association, this event marks the semi-annual release of new products and latest industry trends. One of my favorite products is AccuCut. I already own several dies and enjoy sharing them with my Scrap Club friends. AccuCut is having a sneak peek on their blog and hosting a give-away of one of their new stationary dies.

I gain brownie points if I post about the give-away and link back to the AccuCut blog. It's no problem posting about this product - I would gladly do it with or without a give-away. But if it gets me closer to winning this fabulous die, I'll do whatever it takes. So here I am - pimping for brownie points :)

The preceding has been a public service announcement from a deranged AccuCut fan.

P.S. Scrap Club Divas - please post on your blog to win this die. It would be a great new addition to our existing library.

Six Random Things

I've been tagged by Deb at Drivin' 55 with a meme. Pondering my answers, a more profound question comes to mind. What the heck is a meme? There is a plethora (I love this word) of information on Google (you gotta love Google too) pertaining to meme. Here's what I found.

A meme is:

  • An idea that, like a gene, can replicate and evolve.
  • A unit of cultural information that represents a basic idea that can be transferred from one individual to another, and subjected to mutation, crossover and adaptation.
  • A cultural unit (an idea or value or pattern of behavior) that is passed from one generation to another by nongenetic means (as by imitation); "memes are the cultural counterpart of genes".

  • There is even an entire web site (click here) just for the purpose of identifying popular memes. Anyway, I've been tagged with the meme that is making the rounds in recent days: The Six Random Things Meme. Here are the rules:

    • Link to the person who tagged you.
    • Post the rules on your blog.
    • Write six random things about yourself.
    • Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
    • Let each person know that they were been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
    • Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

    Okay, here it goes...

    1. Doughboy and I will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary in less than two months. This is a second marriage for us both. We met quite by chance on a blind date of sorts (I responded to his personal ad - the precursor to eharmony and and we married 5 weeks later. Yes, I did say five weeks. I will blog more about this some day. To this day he remains my very best friend and being with him still makes my heart melt.

    2. I have little to no musical talent whatsoever. However, I fantasize about having a voice like Barbra Streisand. Did you know she has perfect pitch? Also, I would give anything to play piano well - really, really well.

    3. I have an irrational fear of death. More than death itself, I fear the despair I would feel if Doughboy passed first and left me alone. I cannot imagine life without him. If you've read Nicholas Sparks' The Notebook or have seen the movie version, you'd understand how I feel.

    4. I'm what you could call a jack-of-all-trades-and-master-of-none. I do some things okay and other things fairly well, but I don't really master anything. If money were no object, I would return to school - Savannah College of Art and Design - and complete a degree in photography. Beyond that (if money were no object) I would work with photography professionals to hone my craft and travel to interesting places around the world. I'm not interested in fame or money. I just want to take photos of my family and the things I love.

    5. I cannot tolerate dishonesty. Nothing gets my blood boiling more than a lie. I am extremely loyal and would rather have a few close relationships than many casual acquaintances. As in every relationship, honesty and forthrightness are critical. Don't ask my opinion if you expect a sugar-coated reply.

    6. The ocean calls to me. If I could live anywhere, it would be a home on a beach where I could walk on the sand anytime I wanted and fall asleep to the sound of crashing waves.
    You've been tagged!

    Jamie at Our Crazy Life
    Pam at Pam's Little Blog
    Judy at Judyann's Fun Blog
    Nikki at City Living...Again
    Roxanne at The Schwandt's
    Vanessa at Lawsy Mercy

    P.S. I've been asked how to create a strike-through in blogger. Click here for directions.

    Monday, January 19, 2009

    One Week Ago

    Vacations come and go so quickly. Today was a return to reality and a mountain of work on my desk. I would catch myself in daydream thinking back to where we were and what we were doing one week ago. The temps were in the mid 80's with a gently blowing breeze as we strolled along the streets of Key West FL. The liberation of being on vacation lightened our mood and all thoughts of work and responsibilities back home quickly disappeared.

    Doughboy and I walked along historic Duval Street stopping to window shop or catch a cool drink. We sipped on a margarita at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville and another at Hog's Breath Saloon. {sigh} We even hopped aboard the Conch Train as it wound around through narrow streets and historic neighborhoods for more than an hour. It was the perfect day...and a perfect beginning to our week-long cruise.

    P.S. To all my bloggy friends, I have not forgotten you. I will visit soon...after I finish unpacking and getting through my mountain of laundry. Thanks for being patient with me...

    Sunday, January 18, 2009

    Lost and Found

    As I begin to edit my photos from our Caribbean cruise, I realize I didn't take very many pictures. I suppose that's a sign of the fun we had - I spent more time taking in the sights than behind a camera lens. I promise to get a few highlights of the cruise posted later. However, no vacation is entirely smooth and ours was no exception. Here is a tale of lost and found.

    Any serious scrapbooker has an arsenal of assorted tools and supplies. ScrapMap provided a list of items each participant was required to bring. The list included a Crop-a-Dile, Zutter Bind-It-All, Big Bite, scissors, dry and wet adhesives, trimmers, punches, etc. Scrapbookers know these items don't come cheap. I have a special rolling case and hand-tote made just for scrapbook supplies. Packed to the brim with all the supplies I needed for a week of classes, it was the second most important suitcase (my photography equipment reigns supreme in importance and never leaves my side).

    Traveling from Atlanta to Ft. Lauderdale is an easy 1-1/4 hour direct flight. Doughboy wanted to start our vacation on the right foot and used his highly coveted frequent flyer miles to score first class seats. Being a no-brainer flight, we eagerly waited for our luggage to arrive on the baggage carousel. One, two, three...three...where is #4? The one suitcase I couldn't live without - the one that contained all my scrap supplies - was missing!

    To make a very long story short, Doughboy drew a lot of attention in his effort to calm his irrational wife by working with the disinterested helpful Delta baggage claim representative. A quick check on Doughboy's Blackberry showed another flight from Atlanta was scheduled to arrive in 35 minutes.

    And so we waited for the next flight to arrive in the hope my bag was somehow separated from the rest of our luggage. No such luck. Giving up, we made our way to the port without my missing bag but with the assurance it would be delivered to the ship via taxi. Two hours later our ship left port...without the missing suitcase. Thank you Delta airlines.

    Our first port of call was Key West - an approximate 4-hour drive (one way) from Ft. Lauderdale. Doughboy worked his frustration charm with Delta and had my missing bag delivered to Key West via taxi. Woo hoo! It's no wonder why I adore this man! Doughboy knows that if mamma ain't happy, ain't no one happy. The bag was dirty, frayed, and the pull handle was missing. But I was so relieved to see it - sitting along the side of the road at a security check point. What was lost had been found. This calls for a celebration!

    Saturday, January 17, 2009

    Home Again...almost

    Here I am sitting in the Delta Crown Room at the Ft. Lauderdale airport waiting for our plane to begin boarding for our flight home. Nearly one week has passed since Doughboy and I embarked on a 6-day Caribbean cruise aboard Carnival Cruise Lines. Our journey took us to Key West, Grand Cayman Island, and Jamaica. I have many photos to share when I get them downloaded, but will post a sneak peek of a beautiful sandy beach at Ocho Rios, Jamaica.

    We celebrated Doughboy's birthday last Wednesday; however, the real purpose of going on the cruise was to scrapbook. I can hear loud groans from readers who don't understand the lure of scrapbooking. Two years ago my daughter and I, along with two friends, journeyed on an 8-day Hawaiian adventure for the 2007 Ultimate Scrapbook Cruise. When ScrapMap advertised the 2009 Ultimate Scrapbook Cruise more than 15 months ago I asked Doughboy if he wanted to tag along. The rest is history, so to speak. If you would ask Doughboy how he happened to be on a cruise with 200 women all obsessed interested in the same hobby, he will tell you he was held hostage. Don't believe was FUN! My dear friend Chere, who joined me on the Hawaiian cruise, also traveled with me this week. She brought along her hostage hubby too. In fact, several women traveled with their spouse/significant other.

    If you're wondering what a scrapbook cruise is about, I will say it is tons of fun. While at sea we took classes taught by experts in the scrapbook industry: Heidi Swapp, Donna Downey, Margie Romney-Aslett, Karen Russell, and Teresa Collins. We learned new techniques, previewed the latest trends and products, and had a wonderful experience meeting women from all over the world. Fellow attendees came from as far away as Germany, Italy, Norway, Australia, Greece, Canada, France, and of course all four corners of the U.S.

    Look for more photos and tales of our Caribbean adventure...and look for news about our next cruise to Alaska (coming up in August 2010). Shhhhh...Doughboy doesn't know about it yet. And, yes, it's another scrapbook cruise. But this one is planned around couples. There will be special events for spouses while event attendees participate in classes. Oh, and did I mention there is a reprise of the Ultimate Scrapbook Cruise for 2010? It is an 8-day Caribbean adventure with ports of call in the U.S. Virgin Islands and St. Martin. Hmmm... there may be TWO cruises in my future. If you're interested in joining the fun, visit the ScrapMap web site for more information.

    Saturday, January 10, 2009

    Vaseline Glass

    You could describe the mix of old and new in our home as eclectic. We have no antique furniture, but we have several precious pieces of glassware that were given to me by my grandmothers. My maternal grandmother passed away Christmas Eve a few years ago at nearly 102 years. More than 30 years ago she gave the following bowl to me.

    This beautiful old bowl with an all over hobnail pattern and opalescent edge, possibly made by Fenton, is a color referred to as "Topaz". The uranium content in this old art glass reacts to light and causes it to fluoresce - this can be seen easily under a black light. The ruffled top of this trumpet bowl is doubled crimped and edged in what is most often referred to as "vaseline glass" - this vaseline or opalescent was carried though the first few rows of the hobnails.

    How I was given this piece is just as interesting as its origin. My grandmother promised that the next family member to marry would receive the bowl as a wedding gift. My mother claimed to have remarried, but in fact, did not. (I never said I come from a wholesome family.) She had been given the bowl as promised, but was quickly relieved of the bowl when my grandmother learned of this deception. My grandmother took the bowl from my mother's china cabinet and handed it to me, saying "It's yours now".

    I love this piece - it sits safely in our china cabinet. Unfortunately, my grandmother passed away before I thought to ask how this piece came to be in her possession. Someday it will be passed to my daughter, and eventually our new granddaughter, Ava. I find it extraordinary to pass a piece of history to future generations. It's amazing to think that Ava will have something that once belonged to her great-great-grandmother.

    Do you have anything that was passed to you from a cherished family member?

    Friday, January 9, 2009

    I'm Henry The 8th I Am

    When I started this blog many moons ago, I vowed never to discuss three taboo subjects: my political views, work/employer, and anything else that may offend or embarrass. I have been conspicuously absent from blogging this week. I cannot offer an explanation as it would break my rule about discussing work. To quote Doughboy, I must put my big girl panties on and suck it up. Life would be so much better if I won the lottery.

    When life gets tough, I hunker down and occupy my mind with something easy and numbing. Usually I would lose myself in an absorbing novel. But I found something better. I am addicted to The Tudors - a Showtime special series about the reign of England's King Henry the VIII. I watched season one several months ago - all 10 episodes - in mindless abandon. I was ecstatic to find the next season in our mailbox Tuesday. I had forgotten that I ordered the DVD months ago; it was scheduled to auto ship with the release of season two. From the day it arrived in the mail, I treated myself to a dose of nightly history. It stars Jonathan Rhys Meyers as the monarch and chronicles the life of Henry VIII from the time he was crowned king (following the untimely death of his older 15 year old brother) through his life and succession of six wives. Season two concludes with the beheading of Queen Anne Boleyn and the betrothal of Henry to Jane Seymour (wife #3).

    If you aren't familiar with the series, and plan to watch it, I must warn that it contains nudity, violence, and adult content. However, the stunning cast, luscious wardrobe, and historical account of royalty in the 1500's makes this series a must see. Enjoy!

    Monday, January 5, 2009

    Oh Deer!

    EGADS! - it was nearly impossible to get into the routine of returning to work today. The past two weeks flew by at lightening speed. It was a sad drive as I took Doughboy to the airport last night for his flight to Pittsburgh and work. {sigh} The alarm jarred me out of a deep sleep at 5:30am this morning and I was on the road by 7:15. It rained throughout the 30 minute commute - the soggy weather matched my ominous mood. I should have stayed in bed, assumed the fetal position, and pulled the covers over my head. I really need to win the lottery.

    It was dark when I left home this morning, and nearly dark when I returned this evening. Yes, I'm whining. But I feel it's warranted. Four more days until Doughboy makes his way back home from Pittsburgh, and 6 days until we board the cruise ship for a week long Caribbean adventure. I feel like the Little Engine That Could..."I-think-I-can, I-think-I-can".

    Pulling into the driveway tonight I glanced to the field next to our house. There was a family of eight deer ambling slowly toward the tree line and munching on something delectable. It was barely light, but I ran inside to grab my camera anyway. The wide aperture, advancing nightfall, and distance from me to the deer made it difficult to capture a decent photo. Why don't they ever make an appearance during day light? Well, perhaps they do...but I'm at WORK! Arghhhh!

    The deer were poised for a quick retreat until they realized I posed no threat. With elbows on the railing, I watched from our deck until it grew too dark to see. They were so peaceful, content, and in no hurry to go to work. Perhaps they already won the lottery.

    Tomorrow will be has to be.

    Sunday, January 4, 2009

    This Face

    I adore this face! I could photograph Ava all day long...when I'm not holding her. She is absolute perfection!

    Happy Birthday Pam!

    Being the first Sunday of the month, the ladies of Scrap Club gathered at our home for a day of fun. Not only do we meet regularly for Scrap Club, we meet occasionally for dinner and travel together to special events. Four of five traveled to Nashville TN last spring for the Scrap Etc. event, and to Stamford CT in the fall for CPR (Creative Photography Retreat). We're life-long friends who share common interests, hobbies, and a unique bond.

    Today was special - we celebrated Pam's birthday. Following a delicious lunch, Pam opened gifts and cut into a scrumptuous cheesecake that Chere brought for the occasion. Happy birthday, Pam...may we celebrate many more together!

    Friday, January 2, 2009

    Getting Bigger

    Today is Ava's 5-week birthday. She has come a long way since her days in the NICU. Ava's cheeks are getting softer and plumper and her eyes have begun to focus on objects for longer periods of time. Jamie is an amazing mother - very relaxed and laid back. As soon as Ava whimpers I am right there to pick her up. Jamie smiles indulgently at me and lets me be a doting grandmother. This tiny little snippet of a girl has all of us wrapped around her little finger. We wouldn't have it any other way.

    We all love you, baby girl!

    Thursday, January 1, 2009

    What's A Girl To Do???

    When the clock strikes twelve on December 31st, people all over the world cheer and wish each other a very Happy New Year. For some, this event is no more than a change of a calendar. For others, the New Year symbolizes the beginning of a better tomorrow. So, if you look forward to a good year ahead, spread happiness with these wonderful New Year wishes.

    What better way is there to spread happiness than with your bloggy friends? Especially when Doughboy has taken ill and slumbers in bed. {sigh} So, I logged onto my computer and cruised the blogroll for any recent activity. Oh joy! Country Girl Kate had posted 58 minutes ago. She posted a lovely flower photo and told of the mimosa she was presently sipping. Yummm...I LOVE mimosas. And they're good for you with all the orange juice and vitamins, right? Remembering a stash of mini champagne bottles in the pool house, I braved the frigid elements to test my memory. Viola!

    Imagine my pleasure when I found not just one miniature bottle, but a selection of three from which to choose!

    I thought it prudent to prove the miniature size of the bottles lest you think I'm a lush. I wish I had the foresight to wash the dust from the glass BEFORE posting on my blog.

    Which brand should I choose? Relying on the only scientific method I know, I selected the one whose name I couldn't pronounce.

    Ummmm...this is delicious! Excuse me while I have a moment....

    Okay, I'm back.

    I raise my glass in an old Irish toast to all my family, friends, and bloggy friends...

    In the New Year, may your right hand always be stretched out in friendship, never in want.

    The Watchers

    It might have something to do with my Cherokee heritage, or it may be just a simple fascination...but I have always been intrigued by wolves. Seeing them in the wild, it's hard to believe that our tiny 4 pound Yorkie shares the same DNA. Lucky for me that Doughboy shares the same appreciation for wolves in art form. We've collected many lovely pieces over the years, but none matches the incomparable talent of Bonnie Marris.

    Wildlife artist Bonnie Marris’ fascination with animals began at an early age when, at the age of two, she spent hours in front of the wolf cage at the zoo, enraptured by the animals within. The attention to detail evident in her work is a consequence of long hours studying her subjects in the field and her background in illustration. Bonnie Marris has taken an unusual path into art; she developed her talent by portraying animals “from the inside out.”

    It isn't easy to bring me to tears. However, Doughboy accomplished this on Christmas Eve by giving me a rare edition of Bonnie Marris' recent work entitled The Watchers. A couple months ago he contacted an art broker only to be told The Watchers had sold out soon after its release. When Doughboy told the broker about our collection of Bonnie Marris art, he contacted Ms. Marris and she agreed to sell a MasterWork Giclee from her personal collection. Our canvas is numbered 5 of 5.

    In addition to wolves, Bonnie Marris paints a variety of other animals such as cows, dogs, horses, grizzly bear, and foxes. The two shown below hang in our bedroom. The colors are incredible and must be seen in person to be truly appreciated.

    Other pieces that can be found in our home are...

    I can't explain our fascination for wolves, but art defies explanation. It exists in the heart and eye of the beholder. After we depart this earth, we will pass our collections to our grandchildren so they will have a piece of what mattered to us. If you're interested in seeing more of Bonnie Marris' incredible talent, click here .

    What type of art gets you excited? Do you have any special collections?


    On New Year's Day and the whole year through, I hope the kindness you've given to others returns many times to you. May hope, love, and warmth be in your heart's possessing, and may the New Year bring you and yours many blessings. Happy New Year!!!