Wednesday, March 31, 2010

April Charades Contest

IMPORTANT NOTE:  Y'know, sometimes I'm a little slow on the uptake. Ever since I started this monthly contest, I would announce when someone had guessed the titles correctly. Then most everyone would stop commenting, even though I would urge all of you to keep commenting so you could still be in the final drawing. Well, it took me long enough, but I figured it out: I'm not going to announce it when it happens.  And I'm throwing in another challenge: Give me the title AND the performer(s).  So keep on guessing - first one with all correct answers will be announced at the end of the contest!  

How it works: Each photo stands by itself to represent a TOP 100 SONG from the 1970s. There's eight songs.
The rules: You need to guess the song titles – and make sure they ARE the correct titles - for each one.
The prizes: The first person to correctly guess all eight songs will receive a surprise gift from me.  Then a second winner will be selected by random number generator from all comments submitted.  The prize? A $20 gift certificate toward anything in my shop (with free shipping).

Want to increase your odds? You can be entered in the drawing up to four times: (1) Take your guesses in one comment (only one guess entry per person), (2) In a separate comment, tell me your favorite image from one or more of these shops, (3) In a separate comment, tell me you signed up to follow my blog (or that you already follow), (4) In a separate comment, tell me you became a fan (or that you are already a fan) of my facebook page:   (More than four comments from the same person will not be counted.)

This contest will run for ONE WEEK ONLY. The drawing will be held on Thursday, April 8.

What are they:

Time Frame:   The '70s








Art+Quote = Inspiration

Monday, March 29, 2010

Funny Stuff

Somebody in my neighborhood has a peculiar sense of humor. This sign was posted at the entrance to the local cemetery.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Art+Quote = Inspiration

Friday, March 26, 2010

A True (Very Funny) Story

Today I wore these delicate gold earrings, not usually worn on an ordinary day like today. They were given to me by my younger sister Fran many years ago. They’re among my favorites and … They. Make. Me. Laugh! Let me explain. Back when I was in my fun-loving early 20s I wanted to get my ears pierced. Only partly in jest, I suggested to my very funny, friendly dentist that he could do it. He had the needle and the anesthetic; that’s all we needed. To my delighted surprise, he agreed to do it after office hours one day. Then I recruited my sister Fran, who hated needles and was not crazy about my harebrained idea to have our DENTIST pierce our ears! I pushed and prodded, told her that the earlobe had no blood vessels so there wouldn’t be any blood and she wouldn’t feel a thing. The big night came. I went first. Anesthetic in; needle through the earlobes; earrings inserted. No problem. Then it’s Fran’s turn. Anesthetic in; needle through the earlobe … blood squirts out about two feet. Sheer terror on both their faces! In that split second I’m sure sister envisioned “ambulance” and dentist envisioned “malpractice.” Me? I had a front row seat to a hysterical slapstick comedy! I couldn’t stop laughing, which probably made them both envision “murder.”  We eventually settled down, stopped the bleeding, put some antibiotic on, and stuck the earring in her ear. She did have a bit of an infection in that ear for awhile, but she survived.

One funny followup - of course I had to tell all my friends and co-workers what we did. A few years ago I had an opportunity to see a man I worked with at the time of the dentist incident (40 years ago!) and hadn't seen since I left the company. I walked up to him and said, "It's a blast from your past. Remember me?" He stared at me for about 2 seconds, then said, "Yes, you're the only person I know who had her ears pierced by her dentist." Ahh, that incident made me infamous!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Time Imagined

Did I mention I was taking an online writing class? Here's one assignment.

A Time Imagined (Unpublished)

A Time Imagined

In a paralyzing state of inaction,
I’m slowly coming back to myself.
Tentatively, I start to work,
painting thrift store frames
and reframing family photos.
The familiar sweet smell of fresh paint
gently tugs me back.
I breathe deeply.
This is what I love.
I smile.

Carefully I open an old photo album,
pages faintly musty with age.
I delicately caress a photo -
two smiling people hugging tightly.
I’m transported to a time imagined,
when my parents were young and in love
and these photos were cherished and new,
like their love.
I smile.

I breathe deeply,
old and new scents mingle.
I choose the photo
of the young couple
and move on.

- Felicia Kramer 2010

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


We have a winner for the art pendant giveaway from Michelle of MKC Photography!  The winner is:

Linda Kish

Congratulations, Linda. I will be contacting you via email.  Here's her prize:


My thanks to all who visited and commented, and thanks especially to Michelle for letting us meet her and learn more about her beautiful work.  It was a delightful visit!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Last Call!

You have just until noon tomorrow (Tuesday) to enter a comment for the MKCPhotography art pendant giveaway.  I will pick a winner via random number generator tomorrow afternoon. 

Last call:

Sunday, March 21, 2010

My Christmas Gift

For my Christmas exchange with my sister, I gave her a wish list of art from my favorite Etsy artists. One of them was a custom mosaic from Christine of MemoriesinMosaics, and that's what my sister's gift to me was.  I wanted to include in the mosaic some mementos from my mother and any other pieces of sentimental value I might have.  Once I started in to working with Christine to plan the mosaic, I realized that I had fewer pieces than I first thought. In addition, Chris cautioned me that when planning a mosaic with a picture frame the mosaic should be kept fairly simple so as not to overwhelm the photo.  So after much back and forth, with Chris showing admirable patience with me, we finally came up with our final design.  The mosaic contains an ankle bracelet of my mother's dated 1935, a cameo because my mother loved cameos, and a pair of earrings that have meaning for me. The "broken plate" pieces are from my own set of china from my (long ago) wedding.  I received the mosaic a few weeks ago, and finally got to inserting a photo and hanging it. The photo is my mother, of course, taken probably about the time she would have worn than ankle bracelet.  Here it is:

And here it is, hung on my family photo wall.

I'm so pleased with how this came out, and I have to thank Chris from Memoriesinmosaics once again for this beautiful artwork that is destined to be a family heirloom forever.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Funny stuff

Hope you are enjoying your weekend!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wednesday in the Park

This week in Michigan is a very welcome respite from cold and snow, a spring thaw, sunny with temperatures in the 60s. Although Michiganders know better than to trust that the mild weather has come to stay, they take advantage while they can. Doors fly open, people hurry outside finding any reason to be outdoors. Kids, giddy with excitement, run, jump, spin, and scream with joy.

There’s a small city park in the middle of Birmingham (or “Trendingham,” as one friend calls it), an affluent city of beautiful old homes and upscale shopping. I heard that the park had been remodeled so I stopped to see and to watch the kids play for awhile. The park has been redone in a delightfully natural way – labyrinths, tunnels, “thrones” carved out of rock, wooden playscape, turf hill, amphitheatre for summer concerts - all connected to a riverside nature trail.  I just had to share some images from this delightful little city park.

Thrones fit for a prince and princess ...

Play tic-tac-toe!

Who needs fancy equipment? Give the kids some astroturf and a piece of cardboard!

They even managed to insert some teaching with a replica of the town's historic hose tower ...

I stopped at this park originally to fulfill an assignment for the writing course I'm taking.  Here's part of my description for the course of the "unexpected art" I found today.

As I settled in for a minute to watch the kids, I spotted it – my unexpected art: the top of the swing set decorated with colorful tiles made and signed by the city’s children. There’s hearts and flowers and flags. There’s Max and Harrison and Clare! There’s stars and trees and boats. And look – there’s Brooklyn, and Theo and Henry and Charlie! Here’s Regan and Madison and … J-e-? Boy or girl? That last letter is just a paint-smeared blob! What fun! I smiled as I read these colorful masterpieces and imagined that these children will come back again and again as they grow to see their childhood preserved for all to see and enjoy!

Another thing that struck me was that on the list of donors plaque, some families had included quotes or phrases with their names. I couldn't resist turning those phrases into an imaginary signpost for this park. 


 What a delightful sunny day!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

In the Studio with MKC Photography and a Giveaway!

Today I am thrilled to introduce you to this unique artist and writer, one of my favorites. I love everything she creates, and her stories have often brought me to tears because they are so touching and beautiful. I'm so happy she allowed us to visit her "in the studio." 

So pour yourself a cup of coffee or a spot of tea and settle in for a lovely visit with Michelle.

FK: What’s your morning “cuppa,” Michelle?

I’m a cappuccino girl! Tall, whole milk please, and very hot. Luckily my husband makes amazing cappuccinos at home as well, otherwise I could easily spend waaaaay too much money on them every week.

FK: That sounds wonderful! Too bad for me, I only have regular coffee so I’ll pour myself a cup while you tell me about yourself.

My name is Michelle Katharine Ciarlo-Hayes, and my company name, MKC Photography, comes from my first, middle, and last initials. You can find me on Etsy at:

I also have my main artist website:

And my blog, where I share the “story behind the picture” every week:

FK: As if that isn’t enough to keep you busy, I understand you show your work locally also, right?

One of my favorite things is to show my work in galleries, shops, and art shows across the city. It’s one thing to see art online, it’s another thing to experience it in person and really fall in love with an image as you’re standing in front of it. I love telling people about the techniques I use, my inspirations, and sharing the journey of my work with them.

FK: Where do you live, and did you grow up there?

My dad was in the Army, so I was born in Kansas, grew up in Virginia, completed my graduate degree in England, and then moved to Philadelphia ten years ago. I met my husband when I hit him in the head with my boat (we’re both rowers), and I’ve been in one place ever since. I’m not used to reordering address labels, so living in the same house for one decade is very new to me!

FK: That’s a heck of a way to start a romance! Tell me about the different outlets where you sell your work.

I’ve been on Etsy since October 2008 and I’ve really enjoyed the exposure I’ve received as a result. I do sell my work through my artist website, as well as in several brick and mortar boutiques in Philadelphia (This Little Gallery, Artista, and Nice Things Handmade). It keeps me very busy!

FK: You have two Alphabet series – one for kids and one for quilters. The idea of using the alphabet is not a new idea, but there’s something special about the way you do it. I think these pictures are perfect for a kid's room or gifts for a new baby. How did you come up with the ideas and the overall look? Have they been published?

Thank you! I worked very hard to achieve the right balance between text style and color, and the item itself, for each shot. I had a crazy way of determining when I got it right: if it made me smile, that was the one! If not, I kept tweaking the font or the color until it happened. The ideas were all due to my children - they picked out the items (with a little editing help from mommy...Danny’s threadbare stuffed “lamby” which is missing an eye was gently removed from consideration), and I made sure to keep the series vibe young, fresh, and modern-yet-vintage.

I shot the alphabet series for cross stitchers for When they saw my original series, they asked me to help them put together a cross-stitch inspired alphabet as a wonderful way to share the beauty of this art with a wider audience. We’re looking forward to its publication later this year!

FK: I think you know how much I love your “The story behind the picture” series. The first time I saw and read this one it took my breath away and I couldn’t put it out of my mind. Here’s my favorite:

FK: Talk to me if you can about your process when you create these. Is it photo first then story, or vice versa?

For this particular image, it was a story first and I created the image to match the one I “saw” in my mind. So many of my collages start as a little sentence or phrase, and I work with them until they grow into the pieces you finally see.

FK: Your stories and pictures are absolutely stunning, Michelle. They never fail to touch me and they often bring me to tears. You’re a wonderful artist/writer and a great photographer. Did you study photography or are you self-taught?

I’m a combination of the two - my father taught me to use a fully manual camera when I was in high school, and a dear friend in grad school taught me to use the dark room and manipulate the exposure to achieve the right color and light balance. Other than that, I’m entirely self taught!

FK: Where’s your “quiet place” when you need a break from creating – somewhere you go to rest, refresh, meditate?

I really, really tried to find a quiet place to share with you. During my search, however, I realized I don’t really have a quiet place! My boys (and dogs and husband and telephone and...) never really stop long enough for me to have a minute alone. I carve out time within the craziness (such as waiting for the school bus, or making lunches in the morning) and I let my mind wander to the things I’m currently trying to create.

FK: I guess with that much going on it would be hard to find any quiet time! What part of being an artist is the most gratifying to you and what do you dislike?

I don’t dislike anything about being an artist - I’m grateful every day because I love what I do, and I’m lucky enough to make a living from it!

FK: That’s refreshing! What do you do when you’re not being an artist? What activities do you enjoy?

I love to knit. I recently found an amazing site called “Knits for Needs” that collects knitted items and yarn:
If I run out of projects to do for my own family and friends, I know I can always start something they can use.

FK: It’s hard for me to imagine how you find the time, but that’s a wonderful thing to do and a nice change of pace for you.

FK: Michelle, I have enjoyed getting to know more about you. I have been a fan of your work for a long time, so this was a real treat for me. Now, tell us what your giveaway is.

I’m giving away one of my “Love Park” art glass pendants that I created using my original photograph by the same name. Here it is:

Folks can see more of my art glass pendants in the “Art Glass Jewelry” section of my Etsy shop:

FK: Thank you, Michelle - that's a great giveaway! And thank you again for letting us visit.


You have two chances to enter the giveaway:  Visit Michelle's Etsy shop and come back here to comment about your favorite:

Then visit her blog and come back here to comment about your favorite "Story behind the picture." Warning: you might get lost over there for quite awhile - her stories and pictures are addicting!
The winner will be selected by random number generator next Tuesday, March 23.  Good luck!

Monday, March 15, 2010

X is ...

... always for Xylophone

And Z is always for Zebra

Come back tomorrow for "the story behind the pictures."

Sunday, March 14, 2010

New Treasury

I'm in a new treasury created by Elizabeth Graf, the queen of treasuries!  It is full of striking works and my lovely Forsythia - one of the first signs of spring - is included.   Take a look, and visit Elizabeth's shop too. She does gorgeous work. 

Created by: ElizabethGraf Exp: 3 days

Finding Time

Nope, this isn't about daylight savings time, although I hope you remembered to spring forward this weekend.  If not, do it now!

I created this digital print for the Thursday Sweet Treat challenge, about Dr. Seuss's irrepressible belief in what is possible for each and every person (or Sneetch).  In his very famous words..."And will you succeed, yes you will indeed, 98 and 3/4% guaranteed."  The Dr. Seuss/Finding Time connection also relates to the online writing course I joined, "Oh the Stories You'll Tell."  It too is the creation of  the very same Natasha, of Thursday Sweet Treat.  Right now you just about own me, Natasha!

What does finding time have to do with Dr. Seuss? Because with my always full "to-do list," I think I have an irrepressible belief in what is possible! 

My list has "have-to's" - real things like grocery shopping, doctor appointments, etc. 

Then there's the "want-to's" - these sometimes get pushed down because they resemble a bucket list. Places to go, books to read, things I want to do - oh my, this list is LOOOOONNNG!!

Finally, there's the "must-do's" - all revolving around my creative life. My Etsy shop, this blog, my photography, my writing, my home decor - in short, my creative life.  I "must" do these for the sake of my soul and spirit. I can't imagine how empty my life would be without creative expression. (Not to mention that keeping mind and body active is supposed to have positive effects on my longevity!)

I have never understood people who say they are bored, especially if they are retired like me.  There's SO much you can do! 

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.

Well said, Doctor!!  Here's more Dr. Seuss for you!

What about you?  We all have have-to's and want-to's - but what are your must-do's?  What feeds your soul and spirit?
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