Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Making Your Own Pottery Tools Tutorial

Do you ever sit at your work table/wheel, WISHING you had a certain tool...but not having it??  Or needing a specific size/shape for sculptural work and there's NOTHING available that will work for your needs?  Well...why not make it yourself?!?  I've seen several different tutorials put together by other potters/ceramic artists and took ideas/suggestions from each one to create my OWN way of doing things.  Keep in mind this is my FIRST attempt at making my own tools...  Still a long ways to go before they look pretty...but I'm pretty sure they'll be functional. :)

SO without further adieu...

Sunday, December 29, 2013

USPS Changing Their Rates

Heads up everyone!  I've copied and pasted the new shipping rates going into effect for the USPS.  These new rates will start on 26 JANUARY 2014.

You can find the detailed information about all the proposed price increases HERE.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Shoutout to JustinCredible Pottery!

I don't know Justin in person... but we potters are crazy.. and make close connections via a variety of online groups and communities.  I met Justin through one such group, "Clay Buddies" on Facebook.  (Side note...I REALLY LOVE THAT GROUP! :) )

Name: Justin DeWitt

Business Name(s): JustinCredible Pottery

Date Business Was Opened: June 2013

Types of Items Offered: Oddball one of a kind functional pottery

Why did you decide to open/start your own business?: I needed someplace to put my excess pottery, so why not sell it and get paid

What is your inspiration?: Still working on that…….. :P   My family, to constantly better myself

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Shoutout to Oberleigh Images

I had the opportunity to speak to Karen of Oberleigh Images recently.  She is a fellow Etsy Maine Team member and one helluva photographer!  I love the triptychs she has compiled!!  Below are her answers to some of the questions.  There are some serious inquiries... but also some silly/fun ones as well!  

Pelican Halo
Name: Karen Anderson 

Business Name:  Oberleigh Images 

Date Business Was Opened: October 1, 2013 on Etsy

Types of Items Offered: Nature & Floral Photo Wall Art – mounted, ready to hang in sets of three /triptychs

Monday, December 16, 2013

First Solo Art/Craft Fair

  So.. the weekend after Thanksgiving this year was my very first SOLO arts/craft fair.  I've done a few in the past, but it was always with a fellow potter, or other Maine artisans.  With the type of ceramics I make.. nearly ALL of them are personalized, so I make the orders as they come in.  That being said...I had virtually NO inventory to speak of.  So for the end of October and all of November, I was busting my @$$ trying to make sure I had inventory for the Christmas show.  I made a bunch of earrings and ornaments, thinking those would be big sellers.  Lower price points, great gifts for the holidays, etc.  Needless to say, they weren't!  I had a smorgasbord of sales.  My goal, was to bring in enough profits so I could replace my iPad that I got two years ago. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Twas The Night Before Christmas...

I know it's been a while... please forgive me!  It's been a busy few months!!  I plan on streamlining my ceramic lines.  I hope that by doing this I can actually create inventory to keep on hand and have readily accessible/quick to ship items.  I'm thinking a dragonfly line... hummingbirds... and I already offer a somewhat exclusive ocean inspired line to two shops; one in Kennebunkport, Maine, and one in Florida...  I'll be writing more about that later!  :)

For now, I really wanted to share a poem with you that my husband wrote shortly after we met.  Grab your hanky or a box of tissues... I bawled my eyes out the first time I read it.  I still can't read it without shedding a tear. :)  Here is the link to the original on Facebook : Military - Twas The Night Before Christmas; by J.A. Barnes

Military Twas The Night Before Christmas - J.A.Barnes



Twas’ the Night before Christmas, And out in the sand,
A soldier was on guard duty, weapon safely in hand.
The dune was completely still, not even the wind stirred.
His eyes scanned the horizon, a plan of action inferred.

His team was in slumber, dreaming of their loved ones miles away.
Seeing the faces of their children ,and the smiles they’d wear later that day.
The soldier remained on alert, as he continued to scan into the black.
Occasionaley sipping coffee, and pulling out his MRE for a snack.

When from out of the darkness there arose a loud sound,
The soldier snapped the safety off his weapon and prepared to throw down.
He sighted down the barrel, and steadied his hands.
Prepared to lay down his own life, prepared to make his last stand.

At first it was just sounds, those that sounded of bells.
But from which direction they were coming, the soldier could not yet tell.
When out from the clouds, the moon did appear.
Lighting up the sand as though daytime and revealing eight tinny reindeer.

With a white bearded driver, dressed head to toe in red.
The soldier still unsure, put the sights to his head.
As he hollered and laughed and called out each name,
The soldier wanted to believe his eyes, but held his target just the same.

“Now Dasher, now Dancer, Now Prancer, and Vixen.  On Comit, On Cupid, On Doner and Blitzen!
There are men and women about, who sacrifice themselves for the free!
We’re going to thank them all tonight, before any presents go under the trees!”

He reached behind him, and slowly pulled from his sack,
A large wooden pole, with a white flag on the back.
Standing from his sleigh, he began to wave his hands,
Signaling his good intentions, to alert the soldier man.

The soldier waved him forward while remaining at the ready,
He radioed to his command, his hands never unsteady.
As St. Nick approached, he did exactly as he was told.
Holding his hands within sight, he wasn’t there to be bold.

The soldier could hear the deer breathing, and see the smile on Santa’s face.
As the sleight came to a stop, and he stepped out with grace.
“Good evening my dear boy, and Merry Christmas to you all.
We have a special gift for you, soldiers one and all.

Backup arrived and Santa accepted his search without a sound,
He completely understood their caution, for many brothers and sisters had gone down.
As they completed their job, even checking the bag in the sleigh.
They gave the thumbs up, Santa was ok.

As he stepped back a bit, his hands began to shake and his knees became weak.
A tear dropped from his eye, as he slowly began to speak.
“My list of nice and naughty is very hard to compile.
But the men and women of the military are at the top by a mile.”

“You ask for nothing in return, but your life your ready to give.
You sacrifice your body, your hearts, so that others may live.
You may only require a thank you once in awhile but you see that just won’t do.
I’m here to bring the magic of Christmas to each and every one of you.”

He stepped to the sleigh and removed his toy sack.
It was a velvety red, with a gold stripe down the back.
And as he moved in close, his suit began to change color,
It became a combination off all the services BDU’s, a suit unlike any other.

“You may not have known this, but I’ve been in battle myself.
I wasn’t always Santa, and my workers not always Elf’s.”
As he spoke with a grin, and a twinkle in his eye,
He reached into his bag and let out a large sigh.

“I’m sorry to say I can’t end this war, and I can’t send you home.
It wouldn’t matter anyways, as you wouldn’t leave your unit alone.
So what I have here, is just a little treat of Christmas spirit,
Take a moment to relax, as you get to see and to hear it.”

With his final word, the bag began to glow.
It levitated above the ground, and began a picture show.
There were children with smiles, and families left back home,
Playful pets and Christmas trees, and even a saluting Gnome.

There was laughing and a few tears as moments were remembered.
And a few silent prayers for those lives who had been surrendered.
As Santa stood back and took in the sight,
He knew the country would always be ok as long as there were these brave men and women to fight.

As the show shed its final light, and everyone returned to order.
Santa began to shake hands, and to thank each soldier.
He made his way back to the sled, before resetting his sack and stepping in.
His shoulders slumped forward for a moment, as he ran his finger through the hair on his chin.

“As much as I’d like to stay, it is my duty to go.
So many stops to make tonight, at each station throughout the world.
But as you're celebrating here, with your family number two.
Don’t ever forget those people at home that love and appreciate you.”

“Back in the states, there are people you’ll never know.
Who love and appreciate, the continuous courage that you show.
The men and women of the services are the bravest in the world.
And make it safe for me to bring joy to every little boy and girl.”

As the sleigh began to move and started to lift to the air.
He dropped down a package to each soldier standing there.
It wasn’t a gift that could be heard or for that matter even seen.
It was instead the thanks and feeling, the knowledge of what they really mean.

With the sleigh going up and pulling out of sight,
Santa hollered back to them, “Merry Christmas and Thank you, because of you we sleep safe tonight.”

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to the men and women abroad who serve our country every day.  Your sacrifice and courage do not go unnoticed.  God bless the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Maine Corps, and Coast Guard!!


Merry Christmas, Happy Hanuka, Happy Kwanza, Happy New Year, and any/every holiday I may be missing!  

Please feel free to share the blog post, share the poem.. it deserves to go viral!  Not just because he's my husband...but because it's an amazing, heartfelt poem that rings true to so many...

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Etsy Maine Team 2nd Annual Cash Mob

I am a proud member of the Etsy Maine Team.  For those of you who aren't familiar with Etsy, it is an online forum for craftsmen and artisans to sell their wares.  There are also teams where you are able to join, and network with like minded people.  Teams are created by interests, location, and many other variables.  Now...for the good news... 

Mark your calendars! November 8, we're hosting our 2nd Annual Cash Mob! Like it says on the poster, just visit www.etsy.com, type the word maineteam into the search bar and find thousands upon thousands of great items - all from Maine. Perfect opportunity to start your holiday shopping...and all from the comfort of your home...in your PJ's even!!  See you then!

Please share this with your friends, on your blog, Facebook, Pinterest, and any other social media avenues you have available.  You will be supporting small businesses that hand create each and every single piece listed.  You can rest easy knowing that all items are made in the USA.  


You can find my shop at www.etsy.com/shop/jsbarts

Friday, October 18, 2013

When The Past Comes Back To Haunt You...

Ya know how life has a tendency to get in the way?  Well yea..  Life has kinda kept me on my toes the last few weeks so I apologize for my absence!  I was going to write about the damn government shut down...but I decided that would just be an angry rant and decided against it. :)

But this...I feel is important and might help those of you who actually read what I have to say.

I was talking to a friend of mine the other night...we were reminiscing about our antics while in Kuwait.  I asked him if he could believe it had been 4 years since that time...  He said, "No it hasn't been... it feels like it was yesterday..."  And that got me thinking...  He also asked why certain things smell a specific way causing him to remember the past...Did you know your olfactory senses have the strongest link to your memories?  That's why when you smell the perfume your grandma used to wear, you immediately think of her even though she may have been deceased for 10 years.

Me and one of our docs.

Especially for veterans who have seen war, flashbacks are a very real occurrence.  Not everyone will act out those flashbacks; many will look like they've "zoned out".  In reality, they are reliving that memory as if it were on a big movie screen.  As my friend and I were talking, I remembered a patient I treated.  He was clinically dead, but we were able to revive him despite his severe injuries.  I was holding c-spine (maintaining head control), looking him in the eye and making him talk to me to keep him conscious.  His eyebrows and eyelashes were burned off.  He had burns all over his body; the stench of burning skin and hair is a smell that I will never forget.  He had multiple broken bones and partial amputations.  His carotid artery started bleeding through the bandages and I had to use my thumb as a plug to stop the bleeding in his neck.  While all this was going on and he was being treated by 4 other medics; we talked about getting his 5 year old and my 7 year old together when we both got home and they could play football together.  I will never forget his face, his eyes staring up at me, pleading with me to reassure him that all will be will.  When he was MEDEVAC'ed from our facility, he was alive.  He made it all the way to Germany before succumbing to his injuries.  I was sent home not too long after due to my seizures and made it to his memorial.  It's something I will never forget.  And there are times where it seems like it was just yesterday...The day after my husband knew I was in a funk and I explained to him what was going through my head, and he did the perfect thing.  He just let me be.  Sometimes all a person suffering from PTSD who is dealing with the aftermath of a flashback or night terror needs, is to be left alone for the day...to have that time to sort it out in their own mind.  He was there for me when I needed a hug, when I needed to talk.. but he also gave me my space.  I spoke to my friend on Tuesday... and parts of our conversation brought up memories I had pushed aside..I am wondering if perhaps my inability to close them off again resulted in my seizure last night.  Stress and lack of sleep are triggers.  It was as I was falling asleep I guess.  My hubby told me about it.. which makes sense and explains the sore tired muscles I have today.

My service dog, Kane, also knew something was up.  He didn't leave my side all day long.  It's been 4 years since my deployment to Iraq, but there are times where it seems like it was yesterday.  I see all the people I treated in flashbacks before my eyes.  Sometimes in night terrors.. sometimes when I'm zoning out during the day/day dreaming.  Sometimes it's the same scene, other times it's like a movie on fast forward and I see everything.  Sometimes the tears start flowing and I don't know why...I can't stop them, they're just there.  Sometimes I'm cranky and I snap at my son and husband.  Sometimes I'm able to smile and be thankful that I made it home despite my health issues. And sometimes I feel guilty because I survived and some of my friends did not.. (it's called survivor's guilt).. 

I bring this up not because I want your pity...but I believe that people need to be aware that when it comes to PTSD, there's no timeline in when we get better.  Some days are better than others... And sometimes it's all you can do just to get out of bed.  A certain smell, word, or the way a specific landscape looks can remind us of the dust bowl we were in and the horrific things we saw.  When we withdraw or pull back, it's not because we don't love you, it's because we're trying to deal with the images and memories in our head.  If you've never been there, if you've never seen it...it's hard to talk to someone who doesn't understand.  Rather than just listening, most people try to understand and interrupt to ask questions.  While I admire their desire to learn in order to understand...when you're hurting, the last thing you want to do is educate.  If you want to learn more, ask during a GOOD day, or do some research online.  Want to help your friend but don't know how?  My husband wrote an AMAZING post about how to support a loved one with PTSD.  Please check it out.  Some items may work for your situation, some may not.  But it's some good information from an outsiders point of view.

Dealing with PTSD, Depression, and/or Suicide as a family member or friend

Iraqi sunset
I know this isn't my typical post... But this is about the day in my life.  And not all days are hunky dory peachy keen.  Some days suck.  This week has been full of those sucky days.  But that's why I have my pottery.  When my hands are in clay... a lot of this stuff seems to dissolve...and I feel better.  At times, it's better therapy than any shrink could ever do.  Not to diminish the importance of a psychologist in the healing process for veterans and/or those with PTSD... but for me...art therapy has done more for me than anything else.

Don't be afraid to reach out for help.  Don't know how to explain what is going through your mind/heart?  Grab a pen...a pencil..a paint brush.. some clay.  And just create.  It doesn't have to be the next Picasso.. it just has to help you through the hard days... And for me.. I can assure you that it does.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Internal Debate

Don't mind this post... more to do with me thinking out loud, and seeing what you all have to say...  Looking for input.

Right now, I do a lot of hand building.  95% of my work is hand building, working with slabs of clay rolled out with my slab roller.  Which, don't get my wrong, I enjoy doing...or I wouldn't be doing it at all.  But I have found that my true calling/niche is in sculpting.  And I really want to delve into that some more...explore the possibilities.

BUT, I have just gotten to the point where I have 5 stores where I have my items displayed, and soon to be 6!  This is HUGE for me!  What great opportunities!  But I don't know if my sculptured work would fly in these spaces.  One of them, perhaps..  Actually..  2 .. now that I think about it.  

With Christmas coming up, I know I'm going to be busy with Christmas ornaments and Christmas orders, so I don't know if I'm going to be able to "play" now..but maybe after Christmas I'll get to let this creative muse explore the ideas floating around in my head.  I've been trying to get better at sketching them out so I don't loose them.  It's helping quite a bit, surprisingly.  I need to find a way to balance my "good days" with fulfilling orders for the hand built stuff, and still giving me time to play and sculpt..  Hmm..
Footsteps For Freedom

I am thinking for my next sculpture, that it's going to be another set of military boots...thinking about creating a series..  And the series will be titled "B.O.G. - Boots On Ground".  No two sculptures will look alike, but they will all share a common theme and be somewhat similar....  So if you have any ideas, please feel free to let me know!  
Very small fish vase I made

Monday, September 9, 2013

Mudita Monday - 9 Sept 2013 - Salty Dog Tactical

Good Monday morning to you all!  I hope you had a great weekend, and there weren't too many football widows out there.  

When a Soldier becomes a veteran, the transition may seem seamless and easy to the onlookers.  But in reality, the transition from military to civilian life is difficult at best.  I miss my army life, I won't lie.  There are MANY veterans who start their own business once getting out of the military.  You're in control, and you don't have to worry about fitting into the social norm that society dictates.  Our social norm isn't well understood by those who haven't served.  ANYWAY, I'm getting off topic..  Today I want to share with you a veteran owned business, Salty Dog Tac

Salty Dog Tactical, LLC is a small disabled veteran owned business that is a retailer in medical supplies, out door & sportsman equipment and tactical gear.  They are based out of Pennsylvania.  You can find them on FACEBOOK.  They help fulfill a need for civilian service industries for people such as firefighters, paramedics, police, etc.  They post GREAT tips and information daily on their Facebook page, which really is helpful to know.  Please find them, tell them I sent ya, and support a small, veteran owned business.  I wish them all the best of luck, and sending positive vibes for success!!

Happy Mudita Monday!!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


The last year has been chock full of transitions.  The best one of course, is being referred to as "Mrs. Barnes" now that I am a married woman. :)  But there have been other transitions.  My 11 year old son has come to live with us full time (YAY); I am unable to throw as much on the potters wheel as I would like due to my legs; and as a solitary potter, it is difficult to learn new techniques from other members in a studio, my "teacher" is YouTube.  Which don't get me wrong, there are a lot of wonderful videos on various pottery techniques on YouTube, but the camaraderie just isn't the same..

Having my son here with us is amazing.  It completes our little family, for sure.  He likes to come into my home studio with me and play with clay.  He has been making a snake family.  Very proud of him!  School started nearly two weeks ago, so getting into that routine, making sure chores are done, homework gets completed, and soon we will be adding sports practices and games to that as well!

I have been having increasing pain and weakness in my legs.  I have discovered that 15 minutes is the max that I can sit at my wheel and throw.  And where I am still learning much of the nuances of throwing on the wheel, 15 minutes just isn't going to cut it.  I have considered raising the wheel to a height so that when I sit on a bar stool, my legs are not at the same angle as when I am sitting.  It will be trial and error to find which angle works the best...perhaps this winter will be a good time for that... As a result, I have switched over to most hand building..ok...entirely hand building.  My slab roller is getting a lot of use.  However, if I do say so myself, I have been creating some pretty cute things!  Hoping that a lot of what is currently cooling down in my glaze firing in the kiln will turn out awesome, and the store in Caribou will take it in on consignment.  Speaking of which!  There is a new store that I will be selling my wares at in Caribou!  It's called "Works of Heart".  You should definitely check it out!  GREAT hand-made, Maine Made, items.  They also feature wooden furniture made by a local Amish community.

I have also begun using a new logo, created by the amazing Patricia Shea, of Patricia Shea Designs.  I feel that it showcases more of what I'm about.  The red, white, and blue coloring almost always invoke feelings of patriotism.  It's what I fought for for nearly 4 years as a combat medic.  Love the stars as well.  The smaller one, without pictures, is currently my FB business profile image as well as my Etsy avatar.  The larger, rectangular shaped one, is my FB cover photo. What are your opinions of the new logo???  Would love to hear your thoughts/feedback!!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Mudita Monday - 2 Sept 13 - Sandy Lamontange

As one of the leaders of the Etsy Maine Team, I get to assist in choosing the "MOM", also known as the member of the month.  There's no prize.. just recognition for a job well done.  

Sandy Lamontange of "GrandmaSandeze"
This month, our MOM is Sandy Lamontange.  And let me tell you.. it is well deserved!  She works hard to create numerous treasuries featuring as many team members' works as she can, and she always spreads the love.  She doesn't focus or favor one specific person/shop.  So this month, we all plan on creating treasuries in her name, with her being the #1 featured shop!  If you're on Etsy, please help us celebrate Sandy's nomination as our Member of the Month.
Scarf made by Sandy of Grandma Sandeze

Sandy's shop is called "Grandma Sandy's Boutique" and features beautiful hand knit items; from socks to scarfs, bibs to booties..  Her creations are truly top notch quality!

 This scarf is one of my favorites!  I love the colors!  Blues and greens have always been partial to my heart.

I couldn't think of a better person to write about today, on this Mudita Monday.  Namaste and Mudita to you Sandy! <3

Wondering what this whole "Mudita Monday" thing is all about?  Go HERE, to my initial post to learn more about it. 

'Til next time my friends!

Thank you for stopping by!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Playing Catch Up

So much to do, so little time...I had that feeling all summer with the wedding coming up, and now that the wedding is done.. I still feel that way!  But in a good way.  So here's a brief run down to get ya all caught up.
- Got married August 10 to the man that completes me in every way imaginable.  It was a windy day, rained right up until the ceremony and then it stopped.  It wasn't a heavy rain.. a sprinkle really..  but it was a great day, filled with laughter, family, and fun. :)  OH!  And I made all the wedding favors. :)

- Have had several doctors appointments the last month ranging from neurology to urology.  Fun stuff, huh?  bleck.  As a matter of fact, I have 2 more appointments coming up on Monday!  But I think those are the last two for a while...unless something drastic happens.
- Got my son all enrolled in school (my big 6th grader!), attended an orientation, and he started school August 21.  They start fairly early here, because it is still a very rural community with farms all over the place.  They have a 2 week vacation in September/October so that the kids can help with the potato harvest.
- Re-opened my Etsy shop (www.etsy.com/shop/jsbarts) after it had been on vacation for nearly 2 months while we were doing all the wedding preparations.  And in the last week, I've gotten 3 orders!  All for the same pumpkin spoon rest!  I guess I need to make lots more of those!
- Began selling my stuff at a gift shop in Caribou, Maine; that is known for carrying quality, handmade items, but MOST known for carrying Amish made furniture.  Hoping to do well there.
- Started making Christmas ornaments to get all stocked up for the big art/craft show that is done up here in Fort Kent at the University.  I've been told it's a big to do and that I SHOULD do relatively well.  Keep your fingers crossed!

I think those are all the major items...I've also decided to nix the themed days.  They're not really helping me stay on track at all...I am going to keep Mudita Mondays, as I believe those are important.  It's always nice to recognize someone for their efforts and be genuinely happy for their successes, whether it is of any benefit for you or not.  There needs to be MORE positivity in the world.. and more recognition of the good things people do.  So yea... that's staying.  :)

Lots of ideas for upcoming posts.... so stay tuned my friends!

OH!  and I almost forgot.. I am running a Labor Day sale at my Etsy store.. until 2 September.  Just enter "LABORDAY" in the coupon code to receive $5 off any purchase of $15 or more in my shop.  Please spread the word!


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Wacky Wednesday - I'm Getting Married on Saturday!!! OMG!

Today, is August 7, 2013.  3 days....  that's it... 3 days until I become Mrs. Barnes.  So much left to do, but so much that has already been done!  I posted a tutorial last week about how I made our wedding favors.  I'm hoping they're a big hit, and everyone likes them. :)  I thought that doing the whole "DIY" wedding thing would be easy... Boy was I wrong!  It seems like the littlest things can affect the entire event.  Our rental for tables and chairs fell through so we have been scrambling trying to figure that out..  Pretty sure we've got it squared away...  But jeez!  Have you ever tried finding someplace to rent/sign out tables and chairs less than 2 weeks out from a wedding?  NOT an easy task...

But we have mason jars filled with blue glass stones that will have small candles in them hung all over the yard...  Glass jars with the same fabric used to create the boys' kilts wrapped around them with daisies inside, all set up along the aisle, and then moved to the tables to decorate them for the reception.  Programs printed, food is being taken care of my family...  good lord.  I'm pretty happy that I get along so well with my future in-laws.  They have truly been amazing! 

I will say... that all this wedding planning has put a HUGE dent in my sales for my pottery.... I put my Etsy store on vacation, and it kind of sucks not having that income filtering in.  May not have been much, but it was enough to allow me to replenish my glazes and such.  I am hoping to open the store back up again very shortly after the wedding...

Anyway... I'm sure there is something I should be doing, final wedding prep and such... so off I go for now! 


Thank you for stopping by!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Mudita Monday - Andrea Mayo

I may be biased.. I know that I have been gloating about those that are close to me and how happy I am for them because of different aspects in their lives...

Today is no different.  My little sister, Andrea, is an AMAZING person!!  For the last 6 years, she has been competing at national and international levels for biathlon (skiing and marksmanship).  After a knee injury and surgery where they actually had to take a ligament from her hip and put it in her knee...  it became evident that her competitive days were coming to an end.  Did that stop her though?  Oh hell no.  She has moved to Utah with her boyfriend (who is also a competitive athlete from Canada) and started going to school for massage therapy.  She was salutatorian of her high school class, and is not afraid to be her own person.  I've never met anyone as quirky, happy go lucky, passionate, and animated as my little sister.  Her happiness is all that matters.  I could not be more proud of the young adult she has become, and is continuing to grow into!  Andrea, I love you babygirl!  Keep up the hard work, and you will achieve anything and everything you set your eyes on!!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Making Ceramic Wedding Favors - How To

As I was making my wedding favors...I thought this might be a good time to create my first tutorial on how I make them.  Little back story...  My fiance and I are getting married August 10, 2013 and we live in northern Maine.  One of Maine's slogans is "The Way Life Should Be".  Well, that's what our relationship is like.  We've been together almost 2 years, and it has been amazing!  We have had our share of ups and downs...but we have managed to come out on top, happier and stronger than before.  So that was the inspiration for our favors.

Well... Here goes!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tuesday Tips - Pushing Through the Pain

Good morning! And yes, it's technically morning at 12:45 am on Tuesday.  Currently, I am laying in bed with my legs up, my heating pad on my back turned on, listening to the clicking sounds of my kiln running.  Today started out a little later than it probably should have..

For the last week, to be perfectly honest, I have felt like shit.  I haven't been able to do a whole lot in the studio which has significantly set me back.  I have my very first big event that I'm doing solo to get ready for.  I have heard that "Hallowell Days" is a big deal, and the gift shop, Autumn Equinox, that I have some items at on consignment, invited me down to have a table during this event.  So of course I'm going!!  She gave me some suggestions about what she thought would go over really well... I had some ideas of my own floating around in my head...and then nothing... I was laid up in bed...and did I mention that the event is this weekend?  On Saturday...  I know what you're thinking... Plenty of time to run both a bisque and glaze kiln..right?  NOPE.   Has to be ready by Thursday morning for reasons that may get expanded on in a later post.  So I've gotta get this kiln unloaded, hopefully early tomorrow night (it's a bisque load), glaze all the necessity items, load the kiln, and hopefully have it cooled by Wednesday night/Thursday morning.  OY.
So my day.... I woke up at 11ish...snuggled with my punkerhead for a bit... got out of bed, made coffee...surfed around on FB and played my Smurf game (on my iPad... I love that game!  hehe)..while my head cleared.  Finally around 2pm, I went to "work".  Rolled out some clay, finished off some pieces, worked on my sculpture some...which hind sight would tell me that I could have used that 1.5 hours making stuff and getting it outside in the hot sun to dry..  but oh well.  Finally, at 2300 (11 pm), I got the kiln loaded as full as it was going to get, and started it.  I do have some bisque ware already waiting to be glazed, so while the kiln is cooling, I can be doing something productive at least.

But my point to all this rambling...is I HURT.  Sometimes "work" just isn't fun.  Even though pottery is my passion, my therapy for a myriad of things, I also treat it as my job.  I would love nothing more than to be able to support my family with my art.  That would give me the greatest joy!  This show means a lot to me.  I REALLY want to do well, take down some quality pieces, network, connect..all that good stuff.  So I pushed myself a helluva lot harder than I probably should have today.  And I am definitely paying for it tonight.  But it is worth it.  "No pain, no gain", right?  :)  No matter what you have to push through, or mountain you may climb; when your business seems like a struggle and you just want to give up.  Don't.  Those are the times when you have to keep on pushing, reach the peak, and see the beauty you created, and would have missed had you quit/given up when things got tough.

Keep on keeping on!  Every journey, no matter how big or small, starts with a single footstep.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Friday Fun - Where Has Time Gone??

It's Friday already?  REALLY?!?  Crazy....I guess having a seizure and being so exhausted afterwards that I sleep basically 2 days away has a way of messing with your week...  But at least the last 21 2days have been VERY productive and I've felt sooo much better!!  

I went to Lowe's with a girlfriend of mine and my punkerhead last weekend, and we found some pretty awesome shelves for a really good price.  I only needed one set....BUT...at that price... I couldn't pass it up... So.... I got 2 !  hehe  My honey put them together for me yesterday, and I spent a majority of yesterday organizing them and putting my "office" together.  My shipping "station", photography area, and an actual desk/table next to my shelves to call  my office.  I cannot believe how much more efficient I am and how much more work I get done now!  Well...yes I can.  But still.  It's AWESOME!  I have shelves set aside for boxes, bubble wrap, greenware projects that need to be out of the way while they slowly dry, bisque ware that needs to be glazed, and there's even a shelf for my honey... "BOXES READY TO SHIP"... HEHEHE  Since I can't drive, I rely on him to take everything to the post office.  And since we live in the middle of no where... our little post office closes at 12:30 (I KNOW, RIGHT?!?!?) and we don't have a mailbox, we have to have a damn PO box.  Granted, if push comes to shove, we can go to the post office in the next town over, but that's a 15 minute ride... the post office here close to us is a 2 minute ride.  Still frustrating!  I can't even schedule for the mail man to come pick up the packages... I don't think.. now that I'm "thinking out loud" about it... I'm going to have to call and look into that! :)

Anyway.... Hope you enjoy the photos of my "office" transformed (these are from yesterday... I'll get some new pictures with it all spiffied up soon!)  It's nice...because it leaves the sun porch... aka my studio... to be completely for CLAY.  :-D  Love it!!!  (Thought I'd also throw in a pic of my messy work table... hehe)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tuesday Tips - Loading A Greenware Kiln

Wow... can't believe it's 5 pm already!!!  I have been searching all my links and references in an effort to be able to tell you guys where I got my information about loading a greenware kiln.  If I find it... I will definitely share it!  If any of you potters/ceramic artists out there can share the link if you know what I'm talking about.. PLEASE, feel free to leave it in the comments!  :)  Anyway... back to the tip of the week...

Monday, July 1, 2013

Mudita Monday - Angie Blevins

I could not be more happy for, or more proud of a dear friend of mine!  She is a retired veteran of the US Army and the US Air Force (I believe??  Correct me if I'm wrong Angie... Sorry if I am!  You know my memory sucks!  hehe) 

Angie Blevins is an inspiration in more ways than one.  Not only did she serve our nation, retiring from the US Army as a MSG (E-8), but for the last 3 decades she has pursued her love of painting/drawing.  She is a very talented water color painter and sketch artist.  Some of her sketches have been used by local law enforcement officers and have actually helped catch the person of interest she was brought in to sketch!  Her mediums of choice are oil, ink, and pencil. 

Keep on keeping on Angie!  I LOVE your work, and value our friendship greatly!  You are an inspiration to many!

You can find Angie on her webpage and through Facebook:
WEBSITE :  http://www.rtist4u.com/
FACEBOOK :  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Angie-Blevins-Art-/265653300169153


Friday, June 28, 2013

Friday Fun - ABC Get to Know ME!

So going along with the theme, I figured Friday would be a free for all.  Gives me leeway to write about my life, family, and miscellaneous items that might not otherwise fit.  Today's Friday Fun tidbit is an "ABC Get To Know Me Quiz" that I found on The Little Owl Shop Blog (THANKS! :) )  So here goes!  Hope you learn something about me and perhaps are inspired to do the same.

A. Age: 29
B. Bed Size:  Queen...and it's not big enough!  With myself, my fiance, my son, and my service dog Kane all trying to pile into one bed sometimes...it can get crowded!  haha
C. Chore that you hate:  scraping/grinding kiln shelves and putting kiln wash back on.  Time consuming and has to be done outside.  Non pottery related... I hate doing the dishes!  Always have... but now, standing that long to wash the dishes is physically painful... but on the good days I still try to help my honey out.  He takes such good care of me. <3
D. Dogs:   2; my service dog Kane, and my fiance's dog Charlotte.  Charlotte stayed down with his parents when we moved up north though.  She has a lot of health issues and needed to be closer to the vet...AND... his mom and gram just didn't want her to go.
E. Essential start to your day:  Coffee!
Kane and I at a restaurant in Virginia.
F. Favorite Color:  Blue and a dark amethyst purple.
G. Gold or Silver: Silver/white gold
H. Height:  5'7"

I. Instruments you play:  In middle school I played the french horn...and taught myself some basic piano back in HS...but that was 10 years ago..
J. Job Title: Retired Disabled Veteran.  AKA Differently-abled Veteran Ceramic Artist in Training.  Only been doing this 1.5 years, but it has fast become my passion.
K. Kids:  I have an 11 year old son from a previous marriage.  Hope to add to that sometime in the future.
Hummingbird perched on our patio chair. May 2013.
L. Live:  Northern Maine, about 10 miles from the border of Canada.
M. Mother's Name: Kathy.  

N. Nicknames: Na-Na.  One of my younger sisters couldn't say "Shawna" when she was younger...so she called me "na-na" and it stuck.  Everyone in my family (mom and sisters, dad not so much) calls me by it.  My fiance's pet/nickname for me is "love monkey".  There's a story behind that one as well... Maybe I'll get into that one in a later post.

O. Overnight hospital stays:  Several.  First one was when my son was born, another one about 8 years ago, and 2 in a 1 month time span while deployed to Iraq.  Again, maybe I'll elaborate more on those on a later date.
P. Pet peeve:  Ignorance.  Racism.  People being judgmental in general.  Live and let live.
Q. Quote from a movie:  "Hakuna Matata" = No worries!  Yes, from The Lion King. :)  But it's a great quote/phrase to live by.  Live life for today.  No sense stressing about yesterday or tomorrow.  Yesterday is in the past and you can't do sh*t about it, and you don't know what tomorrow will bring...so again, why stress about the unknown??
R. Right or left handed: Right handed!

S. Siblings: 5 by birth, 1 by marriage.  :)  I have 5 younger sisters ranging in age from 27 to 15.  And as of August 10, 2013, I will have an older sister. :)  Sister-in-law by technicality, but she's great and I love her just the same. :)
T. Time you wake up: It really depends on the kind of night I've had.  If it's been a bad night and I'm up with leg pain, it will be closer to noon.  Most of the time I go to bed when I'm tired and wake up on my own.  Recently though, I've been trying to get on a somewhat normal schedule so I can wake up with my son when he starts school in the fall.
U. Underwear:  The comfy kind! :) 
V. Vegetable you hate:  Not a big fan of kale...I like most veggies... thankfully I'm not a picky eater.
W. What makes you run late:  My memory.  Another "side effect" of Iraq.  My short term memory is HORRIBLE.  We have to stop half down the drive way after we leave to go someplace at LEAST once because I forgot something in the house that I need.  
X. X-Rays you've had:  Oh good lord... WAY too many!  Ankle, knee, foot, entire spine/neck... MRI's and CT scans of head and body...
Y. Yummy food that you make:  I can't cook anymore. :(  My left hand has weakness in it, and I have a tendency to forget stuff.  Add on top of that the inability to stand for long periods of time... And my culinary days are limited.  BUT on my good days... I make a mean stuffed porkchops that my fiance LOVES.
Z. Zoo Animal:  I love the beautiful colors on all the exotic fish... and the peacocks.  The peacocks remind me of the mythical phoenix...of which I have a large tattoo of on my arm.

Well there!  Those are some pretty random questions!  I hope you've learned something you didn't know about me and had a good chuckle...or at least smiled!

Working on some fine detail work.  :)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

When You Think of Maine...

What do YOU think of?  For any people, my out of state friends and family included, the first thing that comes to mind is probably moose....and then it's lighthouses.  I was contacted by a gift shop in Kennebunk that typically sells beach themed items and asked if I had anything like that.  Well...I didn't.  So I started playing with my new extruder, which led me to play around with sculpting... So of course the first thing I make is a lighthouse sculpture!!  hehe  Better to go big than go home.  Afterwards I made some cute little trinket plates..  

Back to the lighthouse.  I wish I would have taken more photos during the process of me sculpting it... but alas... before and the first after photo will have to do. :)  If you have been following my blog for a bit, you know that there are 3 steps to the handmade/handbuilt ceramics process.  First ya make it....then ya bisque fire it (1900*-ish F.  Cone 04 for the potters out there).  Then it gets glaze fired (2200*-ish F.  Cone 5/6). 
So the photo to the right shows the stage of just having been constructed on the left.  And on the right is the post bisque firing with underglaze/glaze added to it.  The lighthouse itself was extruded (yes, I have a hollow cylinder extruder die.. LOVE IT!! :) ).  Then I added all the little "stones" one by one.  Let me tell you what.  It was a PITA!  haha.  And then the tall grass that you can see around the door?  I used my little handheld extruder and attached each "blade" individually.  Again...a PITA!  haha.  But I love the attention to detail.  I can't wait to see what it looks like when I pull it out of the kiln!  The intention is to put a light in it so that it is an actual lighthouse.  :)  I will either update this post with the finished product, or just write a new one... Haven't decided yet. :)  Here are some more "beachy" themed items that have had a clear glaze coat applied and loaded into the kiln.  Will be happy to see the finished product of these too! 

Switching to Bloglovin

Just found out that the Google Reader app for following blogs is going defunct Monday...so as with many loggers, I have made the switch to Bloglovin...so please come find me!

<a href="http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/5097047/?claim=4u7hkruz755">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tuesday Tips

In an effort to better streamline my blogging and make it easier for me to keep up with, as well as my followers, I have decided to add various "themed" days.  I already have Mudita Mondays...I thought Tuesday Tips was appropriate.  I'm not sure if I will have something for every single day, but I figured this was a good start!  What do you guys think?  Do you have any other suggestions or things you would like to see on here??

For my first "Tuesday Tips", I'd like to offer something that EVERYONE can relate to.  Regardless of what your profession, hobby, passion, or calling is; there will be times when nothing goes right and you will feel like giving up.  It is during these times when you MUST NOT GIVE UP.  The most rewarding events nearly always come after the most difficult of journeys.  Did you know that Thomas Edison was NOT the first person to invent the lightbulb?  He was the first person to make one commercially practical.  After trying more than 3,000 "theories" of how an incandescent bulb might work, he and his associates finally found the one that DID.  If he had given up at attempt 3,001; he never would have known that theory/attempt 3,002 was the one that would prove successful.  (source: http://www.ehow.com/facts_4963988_history-thomas-edisons-light-bulb.html)

In more recent times, look at the Soldiers that are coming home with various ailments; physical, emotional, and psychological.  As an example, look at active duty Col. Gregory Gadson.  Have you seen the movie Battleship?  Ya know the double leg amputee that acts in that movie??  YEA...  That's him...  What would have happened if he had given up when he was injured?  He very well could have gotten received medical retirement due to his injuries.  But he did not.  He has continued to train; continued to lead by example; and continued to thrive.  He has continued to be an inspiration to all who see him and know his story.  I encourage you to do your research and find out all about him in addition to watching the movie.  It was pretty good.  Do a search on "Col. Gregory Gadson" and see what comes up.  It's pretty amazing.

A couple hundred years separates these two men, but there is one thing that unites them.  They never gave up.  Regardless of what you're going through; what hurdles you face; stand tall in the face of adversity.  Continue to climb the mountain in front of you one foot in front of the other.  Most of "Tuesday Tips" will be geared towards pottery/ceramics, but I can't help it if a few of these motivational ones slip in there too. :)

What hurdle have you overcome?  How did you do it?  Let me know how you succeeded despite the odds!  I love to hear how others refuse to let hurdles get in their way!!


Monday, June 24, 2013

Mudita Monday - Asha Fenn

As a fairly new ceramic artist/potter, I have been VERY lucky and blessed to have made acquaintance with some amazing fellow artisans who have been more than happy to share their tips of the trade with me.  So periodically, I will be sharing their successes as part of Mudita Mondays.  Many other occupations/people would consider this odd and would see them as direct competition.  For the most part, ceramicists and potters are a VERY jovial and sharing group of people.  We do what we do because we want to and because we LOVE it.  Having our hand in clay is as much of who we are as the clothes we are and the air we breathe. 

I would not have found this hidden part of who I am without the amazing Asha Fenn.  She started off as my instructor, transitioned into my mentor, and has since become a very good friend.  She has the Pottery, Art & Writing Studio & Showroom off of US Route 1 in Stockton Springs, Maine.  Here, she primarily teaches pottery, but is able to teach a wide variety of painting skills and writing prowess.  She now has her pottery pieces in 11 galleries across the state of Maine.  She was the master-mind behind Maine Artists Group and continues to run the group as well as the online store/website.  She has shared glaze recipes with me, tips and tricks when I am having issues with my throwing.  In the last year, her outreach has grown exponentially and I could not be more proud of her as my mentor, and more happy for her as my friend.  Congratulations Asha!!!  I am sooo happy for your growth in the last 12 months!!!  OH!!  I almost forgot to mention...she is also a member of the prestigious Maine Made organization! 

Namaste my friend!!  Mudita!!

To find Asha please click on the links above.  She can be found on Facebook, Twitter, her business website and blog.  The links listed below are those for her Pottery, Art & Writing Studio & Showroom business:

FACEBOOK --  https://www.facebook.com/PotteryArtWritingStudio
TWITTER --  https://twitter.com/pawstudio/ 
WEBPAGE --  http://www.potteryartwritingstudio.com/
BLOG --  http://www.ashafenn.com/ashafenn/

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Apple Valley Bookstore

Thanks to my Kickstarter project, I was contacted by Eric of Apple Valley Books in Winthrop, Maine.  He expressed an interest in having some of my items there on consignment, and of course, I jumped on that opportunity!!  :)  Took me a little while but I got some items sent down to Winthrop (which is roughly 5 hours from where I live in Wallagrass) and they have it put up on display.

Taken from their Facebook page: 

We're an independent bookshop on Main Street in Winthrop selling new (upstairs) and used (downstairs) books. We want to be your personal booksellers!
We are happy to special order books for you! Give us a call or stop on by!
We offer 20% discount on most books and can often find out-of-print books, as well. Please support your local bookseller...:)

"We vote with our wallets. And if you care about the unique character of your community, if you believe in rewarding the rugged independence of small businesses, then your local independent bookstore deserves your support, now more than ever. This is an admittedly counter-cultural effort—but that is part of its appeal and sense of purpose.

Bookstores are different than other stores—they reflect the soul of a community. They are a place for meeting, browsing and reflecting. You bump into friends and neighbors, and see a book on the shelf you might have never crossed paths with before. They offer time for contemplation and conversation."

- John Avlon of Book Beast

You can find them on Facebook HERE

They're website is:  www.applevalleybooks.com/

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Mudita Monday - 10 June 2013

My Mudita Monday...a day late.  My apologies!

Today, I want to recognize an Etsy seller, who has become a very good friend.  We've never met face to face, though we have conversations as if we've been friends forever and are meeting for a cup of coffee.  We are both planning our weddings, and I am soo happy for her success in her Etsy shop, as well as in her life.  She is kind hearted, friendly, caring, and always goes the extra mile; not only in business relations, but in personal as well.  She is always sending me ideas for my ceramics and offering me inspiration; letting me know that I am on her mind, even if we haven't chatted in the last few days. 

Today, I want to celebrate Mei Ho, of Myoga Craft Cave & Etchy Things.  You can find her Etsy shop HERE.
She is also on Facebook.  You can find her business page HERE.
You can find her website HERE.

THANK YOU Mei, for your friendship, our business partnership, and helping to spread the idea/concept of mudita.  I am blessed to have you as a friend, and wish you nothing but prosperity, happiness, and much success!! 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Mudita Monday - 27 May 2013

Ya know...despite all my set backs the last few years and the people who have done wrong by me...I have many people to be happy for, to be "unselfishly joyful" for.  But today is not a day of joy.  It is a day of remembrance. Remembering all those who have fought before our generations (as well as those current) and paid the ultimate sacrifice.  To remember those veterans you may know in your community.  Some may be silent about their service, and other are vocal about their experiences.  It's time to remember that this freedom, that the government is trying to infringe upon, was not free.  People who believed in freedom for the people, free of government and religious directives and interference; fought for their rights to live in a nation they wanted to raise their children in. 

This is probably one of the more politically tinged posts I have and will ever post.  But this is important to me.  Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines all have continued to fight for that freedom since the day the Declaration of Independence was signed July 4, 1776.  Please remember to thank a veteran today.  If you see someone with a Korea hat on walking down the street, thank them for their service.  If you see an OIF veteran in a wheelchair, thank them for their service.  So I guess you could say, for today, my "mudita" or unselfish joy, is in the joy and happiness of other veterans, who are living life one day at a time, the best they can and the only way they know how. 

Thank you to those active duty as well as all the veterans in my friends and family circle!!!

Kathy Mayo
Joe Mayo
Tracy Anderson
Cory Smith
Chris Degen
Don Anderson
Bud Anderson
Archie Maze
Barney Degen, Sr.

Cory Charpentier
Amanda Broomfield
Jody Cope
Christina Dickson
Kandi Wilson
Kimberly March
Brandy Barraza
Nicole Phelan
Sheldon Yamasaki
DeShon Bell

ALL 3/3ID Dogface Soldiers!

And to anyone I may have missed, I am sorry!  You know my memory sucks!!  heh

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Patience is a Virtue

Did you ever hear that from your parents growing up??  "Patience is a virtue"??  Lord knows I DID!!!  Well let me tell you what, having to wait for my extruder (which is coming via TA Metalworks) to come in is TORTURE!!!  And they didn't have the pugmill in stock, so that hasn't even shipped yet!!  OMG!  I want to get my hands on my new toys so I can start playing!!!!! There are so many things I can make with the extruder... vases, cups, sculpture bases..

Anyway... while I have been waiting for my new toys to come (that are only possible thanks to my Kickstarter backers)... the creative bug has bitten me.  I have been working on hand built hummingbird feeders.  I am working on two different versions; one that will hang with the help of wrapped wire.  The second feeder will be a garden stake type...hopefully.  These are all prototypes as I've never made them before.  But I am looking forward to process.  Inspiration has definitely found its way into my hands.  As I sit here typing this, I am wishing I was in the studio creating.  Lucky for you all... my legs have other ideas and are hurting; so I'm sitting in my chair with my feet up.  To see the sneak peak photos of the hummingbird feeders, you can see the album I have on Facebook.      

Here are a few sneak peaks if you can't access the hummingbird album!!

Speaking of my chair..its new!  Well, old new.  My honey and I hit up a couple of garage sales today that were still happening despite the rain.  Found some REALLY GREAT stuff.  We got a wooden rocking chair, a green upholstered rocking chair that swivels (of which I'm sitting in now), a big jack for Justin to be able to raise up his truck in order to work on it, a nice tall dresser for Caden... and there's a bunch more little stuff, but those were the big items.  And we got everything for amazing prices!  So overall...it was a really good day! :)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Mudita Monday - 20 May 2013

It's time for Mudita Monday again!  "Happy Happy Happy"!  hehe  Any Duck Dynasty fans out there?  You will know what that's from.. :)

Today, I want to show my appreciation to one of the most amazing women I have ever had the
OLD SCHOOL!  hehe  Mom, Dad, myself, and my sisters Brooklyn and Brittny...26 years ago.  <3
privilege of knowing.  Today just so happens to be her birthday!!  She birthed six "nerd children", never gave up on her dreams, served our country as a Soldier in the US Army, and demonstrated to her children what true love looks like.  Who am I talking about?  My MOMMY of course!! :-D  No matter what our individual situations are/were, she was always there with the required tough love to help us get back on our feet and learn the lessons life has to offer.  She has always supported our dreams and encouraged us to be the best we can be in whatever profession/occupation we chose.  I would not be the woman I am today without her love, devotion, and encouragement.  She is strong, stubborn, emotional, loving, selfless, dedicated, hard working, studious, and an inspiration.  I could go on...but there just aren't enough adjectives that can describe how amazing of a woman she truly is.  If you have met my mother and been her presence, you can understand all that I've said. 

I don't know what else to say... My mommy is awesome.  She provided my sisters and I with an amazing childhood where many life lessons were learned that have made us all strong adults and productive members of society.  There is nothing I would take back about my childhood.  There aren't enough words in any dictionary for any language to truly explain what an inspiration my mom is.  So thank you mommy for helping to make me the woman I am today.  <3


Monday, May 13, 2013

Mudita Monday - 13 May 2013

It is rather refreshing to be thinking of all the positives in ones life, rather than focusing on the negatives.  There is so much negativity in the world, that sometimes by taking a step back and looking through a different lens, the world doesn't look so dark. 

Today, is all about my future mother-in-law (MIL).  The last eight months have gone by in a whirlwind.  While it did seem that the winter dragged on and on...now that we are only three months from the wedding, it seems like it was just yesterday that my fiance and I set our wedding date!  Robbie, my future MIL, has been such a tremendous help!!!  She went with me to go dress shopping for my wedding dress, planned my bridal shower this past weekend with gram (her mom)..and those are just a few examples of the icing on the cake.  When Justin and I first started dating, she (along with the rest of the family) welcomed me into the family right away and made me feel welcome.  When I introduced her to my 11 year old son, she didn't bat an eye, but welcomed him with open arms and already considers him her grandson and part of the family.  If there is ever anything we need, she is one of the first ones to offer to come help.  She faces some health issues as well, but always makes sure that Justin and I are all set.  When she and John come up to visit, she helps get the house back to being squared away and clean.  She watches her great-niece and nephew during the week after school as well as during school breaks. 

I can see now where Justin gets his constant giving and selfless behavior from.  Robbie is selfless and gives all she can to her family and those she loves.  I am very lucky indeed to be able to call her "mama", my MIL.  Thank you for all you do for our little family mama!  I don't know where we would be with your help and support!