Monday, December 16, 2013

My Secret to Making Ear Cuffs

I've been making these ear cuffs for people who are way more hip than I am...

This style is easy to make, thanks to this you tube tutorial (thank you Meilris!):

I did not opt to add the little chain and I use much smaller beads that fit more with my style.

No two are ever alike. There is always variation depending on where you place your bends and how you make your spirals.

Give it a try at home or join us for jewelry making class in January where we experiment with many types of designs and styles.  Here's a little peak at what we made during one class in October.

Samples of our student's creativity

Friday, October 25, 2013

What You Can Learn by Doing

For many years, I sat and wrote about having my own business in my journals. I was prolific about what businesses I could start, what strengths I could bring to each, what my downfalls might be and in what ways I might succeed or fail.  What I did very little of was take those ideas into the arena and DOTHEM!  I dabbled in things here and there, but I didn't make a commitment or really invest in making things happen.

Now that I'm diving in, I'm learning things I never could have imagined sitting out on my deck with my glass of wine, pondering all that I might do some day.

I began teaching jewelry making classes through my school district's Adult Education Department which has evolved into partnering with my friend Libby Dow to teach mobile classes in our community.  On Saturdays I teach kids art classes at Orenda Springs (did I mention I still work full-time?)   Every spare moment I have I make bracelets-I'm so excited that the orders just keep rolling in for them! Beads, elephants, skulls...My kitchen island is a sea of color! 

As I'm playing with teaching, creating and launching a business, my first and constant question is always "Do I enjoy this?"  Do I enjoy writing this blog?  What is it I like about it?  Do I enjoy twisting and bending wire?  Do I enjoy teaching kids?  What is it that gets me the MOST excited about what I'm doing and how can I do more of THAT?  That is the road I want to follow.

What have I discovered? 

I  LOVE Co-teaching. I love the collaboration, sharing and confidence that having the support of another in the room brings.  I've co-taught my last 3 classes and I've LOVED them.  When I teach alone, I sometimes leave with a sense of unease and I keep replaying things in my head that I should have said or done.  I don't feel that way when I co-teach, partly because the other person is always there to catch you if you stumble.

I'm going to make mistakes. I know that I have a crap load to learn about my online selling options.  I have my "jewelry" sales page set up to sell directly to those of you interested.  It's verified and secure and it works perfectly if you just buy one thing, but I have it set up to only sell one thing at a time!  That's not very efficient!  Fortunately, the person who taught me this by attempting to buy 3 bracelets was kind and helpful about it and now I know about it and can fix it.  It is just a matter of going back into Paypal and setting up a shopping cart vs. a Buy Now button-a distinction I did not realize the importance of until this happened. 

I need to figure out what's most important in growing my creative empire and make sure I give them time.   I'm spending so much time making that I have little time left for growing or promoting my business (or in participating in fun stuff like the online classes I signed up for this month and time with my family).  My next step is to begin planning in those important things so that I don't cut everything off at the knees by just making and nothing else.

Learning is what it's all about for me.  I'm getting clearer about what I really want to have in my life. I feel like I'm just at the beginning of something big.  It's uncertain, unknown and scares the crap out of me, but what could I gain if only I to rise to meet it?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Get Those Multiple Income Streams Flowing

One of the major things that keeps people from pursuing the lives they really want to live, is fear of not having enough money. 

You worry that you have to bring in enough money to support yourself and your dreams and if you don't you will fail.

So how do you smash the myth of the starving artist to pieces and really thrive? How do you build a sustainable business and life around what you love?

The best way that I know to create financial security and sustainability (that I first learned about years ago from Barbara Winter) is to have as many streams of money-love flowing to you as you can.  In ways that are satisfying and matter to you, but also deliver something of value to others.

I think of creating many ways to earn income as a fun, creative challenge. What will I think of next?  What can I try out to see if I like it? Where is there a need that I could help with?

I love painting and I have a blast thinking of all the ways I could potentially earn income from doing what I love that meets a need that I see.  You can do this too, by thinking of the needs people have around painting and developing your own offerings from those.

Here are some of the ideas I've been tossing around.  Keep in mind that each one is a potential income stream.

The need=Beautiful items that people would love to have in their homes
What you could offer=Selling your original paintings, prints, cards.  Have your designs made into products like ipad and phone covers, fabric, lampshades, table runners, tote bags, the options are endless.

The need=Helping others reconnect with their inner creative wisdom
You could teach this need through private or group painting lessons in your home, in a studio, in a yurt in the woods, online or via skype...
You could write an e-book to teach the content.  You could go for a book contract even...

Need=Beautifying your community
You could get hired to paint murals wherever the need is: on concrete walls, sides of businesses, in schools, on parking garages...  I just saw an ad on Craigslist that they're hiring someone for this in my hometown. 
Artist Shannon Crandall even did a project putting art displays in vacant storefronts in her community to make it look more vibrant and to get exposure for participating artists.

Need=Bringing artists together to share their gifts
You could open a collaborative art studio
You could host retreats that bring other artists in to paint together
You could build a support circle that meets in person or online
You could start a painting circle online

 Expand your thinking to bigger needs too...

Need=Reducing loneliness
You could start a non-profit that sends hand-painted cards to alleviate loneliness for people in Nursing Homes or hospitals

Need=Getting art into the hands of kids who can't afford supplies
You could organize a non-profit group that gathers art supplies and distributes them to schools and individuals in need.  May even partner with local community centers to get supplies out and offer classes as well.

The keys here are:
You're taking something you love doing and looking for how it can help others in some way-how it can add value. 

You're brainstorming ideas for multiple ways that you can bring money and joyful activity into your life and you are not putting it all in one basket.  You're developing a combination of offerings that will harmonize into a sustainable way of living.  If one source dries up, you have others and can develop new ones. 

If you stop enjoying one activity, you can move on to others.  This is such a beautiful thing to me because you're not set into any one thing for life.  Your streams change as your interests change.  You're not committing to doing the same thing for the next 20 years. You're meeting needs that exist now that you enjoy now.

You don't have to make a ton of money from each stream.  It's the combination of income from various streams that begins to build a financially stable base.  This takes a huge amount of pressure off of each idea.  It doesn't have to be a million dollar idea, but it does need to be worthy of your time and effort.

I love watching how other artists are creating this type of living for themselves.  Why not take a little time to think of an income stream that you can start building today?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

What I Really Got Out of Flora Bowley's Course

A photo from our Bloom True Retreat Oct. 2013
Yes, I did enjoy peeking into how Flora creates her magical paintings and her videos on being bold and tapping into intuition.  But what I see as Flora's true greatness is her ability to lay a foundation that encourages people to actually be brave- to hang their vulnerability out there and have it received with acceptance, support and encouragement. 

What you might not know is that Flora sets up the container and then steps back and lets it all bloom on its own.  The best stuff happens not in sitting at home watching the videos on your computer, but in behind the scenes in the facebook group. (Flora doesn't regularly participate in the group-but she sets the tone and lets us go.)

I thought I would just learn to be a better painter (I think that happened too) but what really mattered to me was what I never expected, like...

* Making New Friends-I met another artist in the group who lives in my area and now we regularly get together to share ideas.  We're even planning ways to collaborate on classes and other good, juicy stuff.

* A Cheering, Support Group-If I have a question about art making or business, the Bloomers are my go-to group.  They are an open, generous gaggle of amazing people. Want to know how to hang your painting, mix paint, finish your edges, or buy canvasses cheap?  How about what to do when you have a show tomorrow and your prints just came back looking like crap?  How do you get started in getting license agreements?  The Bloomers help each other figure it all out.

* Facing Down Fear-I distinctly remember the first time I posted one of my paintings in the Bloom True Facebook Group. I was so very nervous and afraid of critique. I anxiously watched my computer, wondering 'will they like it, think it's horrid?  Ignore it?' What an amazing feeling to experience the support and encouragement that arrived. They gave me courage that I could do this.

* The New Life that is Blooming because of this class and this group. The group has been a sounding board for me as I launch my own creative endeavors.  As someone in the group put it, "Because of this group, I feel like anything is possible."  And it's true.  I took the class last October and our group is still going strong.  Spinning into sub-groups like....

A Painting Circle-Where people issue painting prompts and share their work

A Card Exchange-This was our first post-class event and we swapped art with each other.  I now have a beautiful assortment

A Business Sharing Group-For help on things like starting your website and selling your work

A Retreat-Planned for October this year and hopefully will evolve into an annual event

All of this has evolved because of one thing, I signed up for an online course with the hope that I could learn new techniques and make beautiful art as Flora does. But I found a safe space.  A sense of community.  New friends.  And, I get to see and experience their process (and unbelievable artwork) every day, even a year later.

I signed up to be an affiliate for Flora because I believe that what she does matters and it made a difference in my life and in the lives of those I have the honor of witnessing Bloom.  If you'd like more details on the class itself, please feel free to contact me at

Or, be bold and dive in!  You never know where that one small step may lead you (I do know it's leading me to Connecticut next month on an art retreat with fellow Bloomers...)  

Update for 2017, Flora's classes are still going strong and I continue to recommend them to my students. Here, 4 years later, I still maintain friendships and connections with members of this group and feel like it was the true beginning of my creative career. If you've never painting before, do not feel intimidated. You could not be more welcome and supported then you will be in this group.
You can find info.on the most recent online course right HERE.

And here's a little Preview Video so you can get a feel for Flora's Classes


Sunday, September 1, 2013

How Do You Build Community?

This weekend I was in my hometown of Ithaca, NY and what stuck me most about being home is that you can feel a sense of community in the air.  Just a quick trip around my childhood neighborhood and you can feel the intention to draw everyone make it a place people want to be.

Then I started thinking about what it takes to build a community.  What can we do to build up our own communities, whether it's in our own geographic area or on our webpage or facebook page or maybe in classes we are offering?

What makes a community?  

Well, in Ithaca there are sidewalks. It makes it easy to get around without fear.  In the community that you're building, make a sidewalk.  Make it easy for people to connect and feel safe.  Sidewalks=safe mobility.  Is your sidewalk (substitute your offering here) easy to navigate?  What is the feeling that you're creating for your visitors/students/neighbors? Do they feel safe leaving you a post, showing up alone in your class as who they are?

In Ithaca I noticed a tendency to share Abundance. When you're building your community, be generous with your gifts, ideas, praise, encouragement.  Give gifts freely and watch how the abundance is returned to you.  Communities are about sharing, and where anyone's success is everyone's success.  It's not about winning or beating others or trying to prove you're better than.

free apples
Free Apples
city garden
City Garden
Rescuing food, reducing hunger

Gather around a common goal. In Ithaca there is an investment in creating beauty.  Many places that used to be gray, concrete walls like parking garages, are now covered in murals.  The community is uniting around adding beauty in unexpected places.

It seems they even had a contest to transform the electrical (transformer?) boxes into works of art.  They are scattered all over the city and they're fantastic!  I wanted to run all over taking pictures of them!

side view
Side View
 And people are planting flowers on the street corners just because...

street flowers

What seeds are you planting where once was just a regular street corner? How are you adding to the world through what you're offering?  Be it beauty, information, knowledge? 

How can you bring people together to make your community and the world stronger and better?

In Ithaca, public spaces are an opportunity to come together.  The elementary school I went to now has a butterfly garden-a project the neighbors gathered together to create (as well as awesome play structures on the other side of the building the community also raised money to build and then actually built).

butterfly garden yellow flower

And they let everyone know they belong. Hang your flag out to let people know they are welcome.  As they are. Without trying to change them to make them fit.

rainbow church
St. Paul's Methodist Church

Start laying the foundation for what you would like to bring forth in the world.  

Today is a perfect day to begin.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Creative Blast

I've been swirling.

Playing with metal, color and light.

Following lines and infusing them.

And living the life I've imagined will happen "someday"

Monday, August 19, 2013

Making Art Live

When I first found out that 21 Secrets Art Journaling workshop was going live, my first thought was gratitude toward Connie from Dirty Footprints who is always shaking things up and keeping it interesting.

My second thought was WOOOAA-look at that line-up of instructors!  I've been trying to figure out how to get to Australia to have a class with Tracy Verdugo and now the universe has delivered her to my living room-I'm so lucky!

And then, the very next day, I was invited to assist behind the scenes with 21 Secrets LIVE.  I could do a little dance and sing a little song about how excited I am, but I will save that special treat for my family.  

If you love making art live with a creative powerhouse of women, check out the class.  It's gonna be  extra-stellar.

21 SECRETS is turning five years old this 2014 and we are throwing a special workshop to celebrate our ka-tooties off! 

Come join a group of past 21 SECRETS teachers in 21 SECRETS LIVE!--you don't have to find a hotel, break the bank on airfare, or even get out of  your pajamas!  We are bringing the LIVE! workshops home to you!

Starting January 15 your host Connie Hozvicka of Dirty Footprints Studio and a past 21 SECRETS teacher will meet every Wednesday at 6pm EST for a LIVE! video broadcast where you can art journal along with us in real time, ask us questions through a chat format, laugh your hiney off, sip margaritas, and feel like we're right there with you in your studio LIVE!
Can't make the LIVE! broadcasts? No problemo! Each 21 SECRETS LIVE! broadcast is recorded and available for all members to KEEP and return to again and again! 
But the party doesn't just stop there--we'll keep the loving going in a private Facebook group and Flickr gallery too--so you can share your work, give and receive feedback, and be a part of a heart-centered supportive community of Artists!
Julie Fei-Fan Balzer    Dion Dior    Jane Davenport    Andrea Schroeder    Aimee Myers Dolich
      Alma Stoller           Carissa Paige        Dale Anne Potter       Violette Clark   Roben-Marie Smith
Rachel Whetzel    Natasha Reilly    Rae Missigman        Diana Trout           Gretchen Miller
      Hali Karla                  Rachel Awes       Traci Bunkers         Lisa Wilson           Kate Crane

                                    Tracy Verdugo             Kelly Barton                 Connie Hozvicka (Your Host)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Magical Crayons

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I’ve been travelling quite a bit this summer and I wanted to take easy, portable art supplies with me so I’ve been grabbing the watercolor paints and crayons.
Turns out kids love these “magical crayons” as much as I do.  It’s easy to make some fun, vibrant art like the photo above.
You can sketch out whatever comes to you (we used Pitt pens) or you can just draw patterns or shapes with the crayons themselves. You’ll want to use a heavy paper that has some absorbency.  We used watercolor paper.

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Then whip out your box of magical crayons-we use Staedtler watercolor crayons

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They look like your average, old dollar-store crayons but they have secret powers

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Just use them to color in your sketch-you can combine different colors for highlighting and variation.  Here I used green, yellow and blue.

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Then take a brush and some water and begin blending. (My daughter is in love with the travelling watercolor brush-as am I.  It’s self cleaning!)

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And that’s all there is to it.  Just coloring and painting with water.  A perfect project for a summer’s day.
Here’s my daughter’s work that she made during some down time in the Adirondack Mountains.

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Wouldn’t these make sweet greeting cards for the grandparents?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Why Kind Over Matter Rocks

It's the one thing that gets me every time.

The thing that made me cry when people sang "Happy Birthday" to me as a child.

The one quality I wished for my daughter to have when she was born.


It's no surprise that Kind Over Matter is one of my favorite sites.  I get their posts delivered to my inbox and I rarely delete them without reading. I "like" them like nobody's business (as my facebook groups can attest).

What Amanda creates with her site is right up there with JK Rowling in my book (and you all know there is no higher place than JK...) Amanda creates her own kind of magic by giving to others as she also builds a beautiful blooming business for herself.  

What does she do that's so special and how can you pull in a little of that sparkle for yourself as you build your own unique, thriving business?  Here are a few little nuggets that I see:

Amanda shares the work of Etsy Artists that tie seamlessly into the theme of each post. The beauty draws me in.  She creates (forgive the cheesiness of the expression) a "win-win".  The artists' she features get amazing exposure to an obscenely large audience (130,000 pageviews/month and 19,000 facebook fans!) and she drives more traffic to her blog from people who follow the featured artist as well. I say that's pretty damn spectacular in its simplicity.

How Can You Use This? How can you set up your site to create win-wins?  How can you help others and yourself at the same time so that you both benefit?  Is it through sharing or highlighting the work or stories of others that complement your services?  Think in terms of mutual benefit.
Amanda uses guest writers which is Mensa-genius if you're a professional blogger because it takes the pressure off of you to constantly create content. But  even better-what I think is especially Amanda-style magic is that she encourages guest posts from her community of readers. Not just polished people who already have it made.  Not paid writers.  Real people who have the chance to share their story and again get the exposure of her vast, specific audience (and thus giving them the chance to increase their own audience). Sharing your words on her site is a gift both to you as the sharer, to her readers and to herself.

How Can You Use This?  First you could check out Kind Over Matter's guest posting set-up and see if there is an area where you could contribute to help get your name out there.  Then you could look at how you might get people involved in contributing to your site.  Is it through interviews, sharing each others work or guest posts?  Use that creativity to think of other ways could you involve others in your site.

Amanda uses advertising to generate revenue but still manages to do it in a heart-centered, deeply giving way.  She's able to support her site AND create a forum for like-minded, creative business people to share their offerings.  She offers advertising at decent rates:  $75.00/month for premium and $55.00/month standard and she helps you design it for $10.00 if you need. I have checked out many of the offerings in her sidebar and they were right in line with my interests.  If I ever offer a class online, I would consider advertising with her.

How Can You Use This? You could use her site to advertise your products and reach a wide audience or you could create the same type of set-up on your own site if you've developed a strong audience.  You don't even have to feel sneaky about it because it benefits everyone when you create it with that intention.

Amanda's willing to make herself vulnerable:  She posted a video interview and revealed her deep fear of public speaking, she posted hoop-dancing videos of herself, she shares her experiences having a son with autism-she's one gutsy kindness guru who's really pushing her comfort boundaries. 

I wouldn't say this is something you can "use."  It's just a willingness to be open and to stretch into your true greatness.

I don't know Amanda nor am I on a first name basis with her (artistic liberty!) or an affiliate or anything like that.  I'm just a student of  what works and what does not. 

Begin to study the blogs you most love online.  What is it that's working?  Where's the best juice coming from?  How can you make your own special formula?

For me, kindness works every time.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Staying Curious

Drops of Sunlight

I'm starting to formalize my jewelry making business.  
I've approached a couple of places to sell my earrings locally-it's exciting and wickedly nerve-wracking at the same time to put yourself out there.

To make yourself a little vulnerable.

 It takes you to a place of potential rejection, which is always a squirmy feeling, but it's the place you have to go if you want to move forward.

I went to an Arts and Crafts Festival this weekend and I use this as study time, but also for inspiration and motivation.  You can use these events to learn a ton about what others in your creative area are doing.

What are people charging? And holy crap, what are you going to charge when you start to sell your work? How do your materials and work compare in terms of pricing? I came away with the distinct knowing that my prices are too low and my friend actually yelled at me when she found out what I had been charging.

How do they display their work? I've been shopping around for cards to display my earrings and I saw a lot of creative alternatives to standard earring cards, many hand made.

What materials are other artists using? Silver, copper, mixed media? I find people charge based on the materials they use, the time it takes to create the product and their own personal experience, reputation, expertise...

What stands out most to me? What's the feeling you want to create for the people who buy your  products or services? Energized, relaxed, playful, educational?
 What booths are you most drawn to and why? Is it the colors, the simplicity, the products themselves?

You can learn so much from what others are doing, both online and in person.  
 Drop in with a sense of curiosity, knowing that you will integrate new ideas in your own way that will be a reflection of your style.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Keeping Creativity Alive

Art Adventure 231What if you grew up trusting your own inner voice?

Art Adventure 253  Your innate wisdom over the voice of fear?

Art Adventure 136 

What if you grew up valuing the creative process itself as a tool of deeper knowing and didn't place all of the focus of art making on what the product looked like?

Art Adventure 126

What if the experience was more important than the result?

What if we taught our kids to trust themselves, to listen to their own intuition?

How could we change the world?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Creative with Money

One of the difficulties that many artists seem to face, is the ebb and flow of money. 

In 2003, when I got divorced and had big, scary, hairy, losing-sleep-over-money-what-happens-to-my daughter-if-I-get-sick-I-can't-afford-disability-insurance fears,  I felt that my future and my daughter's future was depending on me continuing to work and keeping my job. 

I'd been dreaming for a long time of starting my own business.  Had established a business structure, had taken steps to start running online classes (back in 2000 mind you), including lining up instructors to teach and getting support from my profession.

Now none of that seemed possible and I shoved my dreams to the back burner in the name of necessity.  Instead, I decided to take control over my financial situation.

I did not have family in the area to help me with child care.  

I needed to both decrease my spending and increase my earnings.

I learned some really good lessons, like I could cut many things out without missing them at all.  Cable, newspapers, magazines, anything that I considered "non-essential" went.  This freed up time and space in my life.

My friend and I sat down and brainstormed all of the assets we had that we could use to make money:
Extra Rooms in our House
Garage Space to rent
Writing Skills
Teaching skills
Recreation Therapy Degree

We went on identifying what strengths and resources we had that we could use to generate money and beyond that, what would we like to do?

She ended up getting a tenant which she still has to this day.  I chose to work with a woman with autism, doing fun, recreation stuff in the community which I did for several years.

We both found something that helped us get through a really icky financial time and that fit with our lives.

These days, when I start to get antsy about money, I remember that I know how to cut back and ramp up the earnings again if I need to but instead of putting myself back in that situation, I'm choosing to build as many sources of income as I can, from things I enjoy doing.

Some of the creative things I see artists doing to get the money flowing: 

Gofundme or Kickstarter projects 
(I've sponsored people in both)

Auctioning off their work and donating a percentage of the proceeds to charity 
(bought a ticket for that too)

Partnering with other artists to offer classes 
(working on this right now myself)

Forming women's circles to raise the ideas and energies to the next level 
(I'm in two with a third in the works)

Working in unconventional setting like painting live during rock concerts
 (hmmm...not really my bag but I'm considering doing a demo at the NY State Fair? They're looking for people to demonstrate their art making live.If you're interested
contact Sandra Fioramonti for more information.)

I'd love to hear your creative ideas!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Art Adventure Experience

 Just in case you’re wondering what we do on our Saturday Art Adventures, here’s a little sneak peak…
While we’re waiting for everyone to arrive, we play “kiss a fish” at the pond: We lay down on the rock pier and put our faces near the water and then throw some fish food in.  When the fish come up to get the food they make a little splash.  It takes a little bravery and gives a little thrill.

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We take a short 10-15 minute walk up the hill to the pavilion or Yurt, depending on the weather…

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We introduce ourselves with a warm-up game….

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Then we get down to business with different art materials, often exploring the environment to find natural items to help us create.

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We usually need time to let things dry, so we play group games while we wait.

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Then we finish up our projects….

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We get a little messy, but that’s part of the fun….

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And we always end with a sweet game to give us the energy to get back down the hill.

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Down past the trees and horses, to the real world again…

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Many thanks to Orenda Springs for hosting our events, Beverly Karsteter for dropping in to lend a hand and Dru Nordmark for being our roaming photographer.

Saturday Art Adventures will be back in September for more art and games in the wild! 
Check our Events Page for September Dates.