Thursday, April 16, 2009

One Big Winner!

Congratulations to the winner of my first Free Give-Away!

Today is April 16th, 2009
My Free Give-Away has a winner!

Allie Schellhammer has won the earrings of her choice 

I hope that she enjoys them and wears them in good health for many years to come!

A Happy Day to Allie and everyone else who has come to visit me at


Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Piece Of My Heart

My six year old niece is visiting from Georgia this week. Let me just say, first of all...I absolutely adore her. When she was born she became a piece of my heart. I miss her when we are apart and I cherish every fun and wonderful moment that we spend together. I only see her about two times per year, but the time is quality time, for sure. I devote every moment we have together to bonding and doing interesting and fun activities. We make up games, create art, read stories, snuggle and chat. 

The most important part of our relationship is that we know how much we love each other and how special we are together. We are both artists, and for whatever reason, I know how she thinks. I know what she is going to say about things, before she gets the words out, because I understand how her mind works.

Last night after I read her a book about a baby dolphin she said, "Aunt Ally, It's not good that we don't live together. I wish we all lived at your house. I don't like not seeing you all the time." I have felt that was since the day she was born. 

She will go home on Saturday and a piece of my heart will go with her. I wish that everyone with a special and wonderful child in their life will take the time to create memories that they can both cherish for the rest of your lives. Fostering a bond and a loving relationship with a child is a gift that lasts forever.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Happy Spring Give-Away

I just love springtime! It puts me in the giving mood.

This Give-Away runs from 4/2/09 - 4/16/09 at which time the winner will be selected at random.

First become a follower of my blog

Visit my online shop allyjoy.etsy and see which item is your favorite.  

Give the item a heart. 
Come back to this blog and write a comment at the bottom of this post about which item in my shop is your favorite and why.

One lucky winner will win an Allyjoy original.

 If your favorite item is a photograph, you will win a Fine Art Print of that image.

 If your favorite item is jewelry you will win a pair of earrings of my choice. 
I will select the earrings closest in style and color to your selected favorite item.

Please  select your true favorite from the shop to write about in your comments.

I look forward to hearing your comments
 and picking the 
Lucky Winner!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


While I was dreaming of Springtime, it was happening in my garage without my knowledge!

Last summer I dug up all of my bulbs in order to lay landscaping fabric (weed block) and to re-plant my flower beds. They are groups of Allium, Narcissus, Daffodil, Hyacinth, and Paper White. I had hired a gardener to reshape my bushes and to lay lava rocks over the weed block. He was on a tight schedule, being double booked that day. Therefore, I didn't have the time or energy to figure out where to place the bulbs at that time, so I hurriedly scrounged around in the earth on my hands and knees and gathered up all of my little "babies" and put them in a plastic bucket. I put the bucket in my garage and essentially forgot about the bulbs until my husband decided to clean out the garage.

Well, I saw the bucket out on the driveway, and to my great surprise...the bulbs were sprouting without any care on my part. Most of them had started growing fresh roots and nice green foliage...getting ready for their spring debut.

As a photographer, I was inspired and began setting them up in rows on paper towels to see which ones were interesting. I am always on the lookout for a new muse. So, which one would raise it's tiny green hand and say, "pick me...pick me!" Well, I must say there is one that is my favorite at this point. It has a beautiful "S" curve to it. The roots even have grown in a nice curve, so it is going to be my first subject of the bunch tomorrow morning.

I have set out a variety of background surfaces to try the bulbs out on. I am excited and just love how inspiration can come from anywhere and anything. I see beauty all around me, each and every day. Sometimes an object or living thing calls out to me and begs to be noticed and immortalized. I am sure some people might think it's nuts to get excited over some half-grown, dirt clumped, musty scented bulbs...but I could spend an entire day enjoying every nuance that they have to offer.

Speaking of the odor, my husband went downstairs to my studio and said, "Boy, we really have to do something about the doggy odor...the basement smells like onions!" I laughed and said, "That's not the's the bulbs". Bulbs are in the onion family, which is why they smell less wonderful than the lovely flowers they produce. The Hyacinths are the most heavenly perfumed of all, in my opinion. I always make my children smell them each year when they bloom. That is why I plant them by the front entrance. Who wouldn't like to smell that lovely scent each time they come and go? Not me! I love it.

When I am done photographing them, they will go to their new home in a shallow planter where they will enjoy time to grow and bask in the sunshine. They, however, will not be rid of me and my camera. I photograph my garden every year and really love recording the different stages of growth. I even love certain plants after their peak, as some are even more interesting as they get dry and change shape.

Serendipity keeps me young and fresh and ready to create. Interesting things are all around us, everyday. I hope that you will take the time in your everyday life to look at objects in the natural world as well as man-made world and see the beauty. Let the little things inspire you and bring you unexpected joy.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Basal Cell Carcinoma

I have been really excited about my new blog site and wanting to write another post each day, but didn't want to be a bummer. I have been going through an interesting time, lately. I have been diagnosed with several Basal Cell Carcinomas. I have so many lovely things to write about, but I just can't seem to write about anything else until I get this out. Some terms and names are clickable to links. O.K., here I go...

I had a tiny dry patch on the front of my forehead up by my hairline. I had it for about 2-3 weeks and just had a sense that it was suspicious, so I made an appointment with a new Dermatologist. She took a biopsy and I mentioned that I have had a small scab that never heals for about 15 years. You heard it right, 15 years. I don't know what made me not get that checked many years ago, but I just never did. Needless to say, she took a biopsy of that area, as well.

Five days passed and I just knew the news was not going to be great. My doctor, Dr. Hara Schwartz, called me on a Saturday morning to say that I indeed had Basal Cell Carcinoma in both areas. She said that I would have to have Moh's Surgery also called, Micrographic Surgery. This is the best type of surgery in order to remove the most (hopefully all) cancer cells, while leaving intact the largest number of healthy skin cells. This allows for the highest success rate with the smallest scarring. It was the preferred procedure for my circumstance.

So, as I write this post one scar is healing on my forehead with the stitches removed and the other is still freshly stitched. Due to the fact the the rear area was growing for so many years, it was necessary to remove a large area of skin. The surgeon was concerned that I might need a graft and plastic surgery in order to close the skin. He said this was because the open area was very large for the scalp and that scalp skin is not very stretchable. I was really upset thinking that I would need this additional procedure, because my grandmother had a skin graft along with skin cancer surgery years ago and I remember that she found the healing process very painful.

Basal Cell and Squamous Cell Carcinoma run in my family on both sides. My father and my maternal grandmother have had many of these and are very fair skinned, like I am. Skin Cancers are caused by sun exposure and genetics. I always wear sunscreen, but was clearly not as careful as was necessary as a child and teen. I have my own children wear a high quality UVA/UVB sunscreen, such as Anthelios every day. They are so well trained, at this point I don't have to remind them...most of the time.

My Moh's Surgeon's name is Dr.David Kriegel who is a wonderful doctor in NYC who came highly recommended by my Dermatologist. Moh's Surgery involves a series of tissue removals which are each put through a variety of procedures. First the doctor removes some tissue. Then the sample is frozen and dyed and then checked under a microscope. The doctor checks the cells to see if all borders contain healthy cells. If there are any irregular (cancer) cells anywhere along a border or under the base, more tissue is removed. This process continues while the patient (me) waits either in the waiting room with a bandage or in the surgical room. I chose to remain in the surgical room to make it more efficient for the doctor and less transitional for myself. The rear of my head needed three tissue removals, which is why the opened area became the size of a silver dollar. I was pretty shocked to hear how large it was, because the initial scab that I had prior to visiting the doctor was very small, comparatively. It was about the size of my pointer finder's nail area. This goes to show how important the Moh's Surgery techniques are in order to make sure that all cancer cells are removed.

Now, in terms of healing and care all I do is sanitize my hands with Germ-X and clean the stitched area twice a day with peroxide and cotton balls and then place a bandage with lots of Bacitracin on it. The doctor said that I don't have to cover it anymore, but I find that because this one is in my scalp, over the hours my hair absorbs the ointment and eventually, the stitched area gets dry and unprotected. Therefore, I choose to wear the bandage. It looks very silly to have a bandage on the back of my head, sort of like a tiny square yalmulka, so I have been staying home. Not that there is anything wrong with tiny square yalmulkas, but that's just not my style. 

There is another reason why I have been staying home, also skin cancer related, which I will write about in my next post (am I cheerful enough?).

I suggest strongly that everyone have a full body skin exam to check for any abnormal cells. Skin cancer, such as mine, can just look like a tiny dry patch. This can be deceiving and only a biopsy can tell you, for sure, if the cells are normal or not. Take good care of your skin with daily high quality sunscreen and wear a hat and sunglasses in order to remain healthy.

I wish you great happiness, excellent health, and large daily dose of informed common sense.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Dreaming of springtime

It was so lovely today! My daughter and I took not one, but two long walks in the sunshine. My son and I made driveway murals with chalk of giant happy eyes and paisley flowers. Days like this are a gift when sandwiched in between frosty gray days. I was in desperate need of inspiration this weekend, so we spent Sunday in NYC with my favorite aunt. She is my only other relative who is an artist and was my childhood idol. When she was only 16 years old she made a gorgeous drawing of Romeo and Juliet with a No. 2 pencil. This drawing is more beautiful than many of the famous works of art that we viewed at The Met on Sunday. She is amazing at creating organic forms with blended shading. I will take a photo of this drawing the next time I visit my 89 year old grandmother (who is recovering from her fall and hip replacement) and post it. 

I adore flowers, they are a huge inspiration for my artwork. I specialize in macro flower photography. I was so excited to see the Snowdrops blooming at the bases of the trees in Central Park. This means that my dreams are coming true...Spring is near...I can smell it in the air...I can see it on the ground...I can feel it in my heart...Spring is near