Sunday, June 30, 2013

Celebrating my 39th and an interesting realization

I turned 39 this past week. It was not earth shattering or anything really all that special. In honor of the day I refused to wash dishes or cook. I should have been more specific as so did my children and that only meant that the day after my birthday I did twice as much cleaning. Lesson learned.
As my big gift, Doug wanted me to pick out a new wedding ring. I don't need one really, I have a BEAUTIFUL one. See below. However, he feels (and I agree) that it will remain beautiful much longer if it doesn't live in an art room every day.... there is just something about a diamond ring that attracts paint and clay!
Here is my OLD looking hand with my awesome 15 year old ring that has just been cleaned, polished and repaired...
And here is my bday present. I have to say, it's really great. I like that I was able to keep with the two tone look. I know the braided center will end up with gunk in it, but James Avery can clean it up!!

And let me just say... my pride forces me to... my hand really isn't that fat! The ring is a size 6 and typically I look like I have long slender fingers. These pictures however make my fingers look like sausages! Oh well!
My other part of my birthday gift was a trip to the Texas Rangers game and a night away from the children. While we were away, we did a little shopping. I love this shirt. It SO FITS ME!! (I'm not a television fan!)
Here was our view of the game. The Texas Rangers are my favorite team and I'm glad to say that I've seen them play enough times in person that I know they are not always that BORING! But man, if it hadn't been for the fight that almost broke out between a Ranger fan and a Cincinatti Red's fan, there would have been very little excitement to the night! But even a boring game in person is fun to be at!
This morning we got up and had a leisurely morning and then worked our way home. On our way home, I had an interesting realization. I have not spent a single night IN MY HOUSE without at least one of my children present in the last ten years. Possibly longer. Wow. Yes, Doug and I have gotten away, but I haven't slept in MY bed without a child in the house in, well, I can't remember. It has been that long.

It's a really good thing we have made opportunities to get away. (Thanks Mom and Dad for keeping the girls!) Kylie says that she is going to be ready to spend the night away from home when she turns 4. Her 4th birthday is August 20th. Any takers? :)

Friday, June 28, 2013

Fabric Portraits

Back in May, I had the opportunity to see some incredible fabric portraits at The University of Texas in Austin while at the UIL State Technical Design Contest.

The artist is Terri Waddle and her work is INCREDIBLE!!
Look at the necklace!! I love the use of the real necklace hanging from her neck!

 All of the pieces are larger than life and truly incredible. They got me wishing, and thinking... of course they did!

Remember all of those tshirts and memorabilia pieces that I have... well, what if I do a fabric portrait type thing with all of my memorabilia?

So that's the plan. I'll keep you posted!

A Fun DIY kid friendly craft project! Make an Air Dry Clay Loom!

Need a fun, not too expensive, more than one afternoon, but not too messy craft project?

Well... here it is...
You make an air dry clay loom and then you weave on it!

Yes, even smallish children can do this with supervision!

I've created a two part snapguide as a tutorial. 

For instructions on how to make the clay loom, click here.
For the weaving portion, click here.

I will say this, I used a teacher supply air dry clay that you purchase in 25 pound bags. I realize that you wouldn't do that at home. Just a regular craft air dry clay would work fine for this project.

I also used about as much clay as a softball. Little ones would not be able to start rolling a slab with this much clay. If Kylie were doing this, I would "help" her roll out the slab. You will have a lot of extra clay after you cut out the middle of the frame, so let the littles make fun things with the leftovers.
I used a rolling pin to roll out my clay. DO NOT USE YOUR KITCHEN ROLLING PIN FOR THIS!! You do not want to contaminate your rolling pin! Instead of using a rolling pin, I could have just used my hand and smushed, picked up the clay, gave it a turn, flipped it over and smushed some more. 
If you are doing this with kids, just think how cute this project would be with a hand print embedded into the frame instead of the flowers that I stamped... hmmm. :)
Now, I have to say, at this point I was tempted to just let this piece dry and use it for a cute frame.. but then I wouldn't have had a loom, so I kept going.
I used Popsicle sticks and a straw for placement.

Make sure you check the tutorial cause I am skipping a lot of steps! When you get the holes cut out, this would be the end of day one.  Let the loom dry over night.

Day 2.. paint! I used kid safe tempera cakes/watercolors. Lots of color, little water. And multiple coats.
 Let dry. Later that day, an adult will need to spray a sealer coat or two.

Day 3: start weaving!! String your loom with yarn and go to it! Yes, details are included in my snapguide!

To weave, you will need yarn, Popsicle sticks and a paperclip. Not too difficult right? :)

Basic weaving is just over and under the strings that are held tight. (warp threads) Need instructions.. go look at the guide...
You can keep it simple
or make it fancy.
Weaving is a lot of fun. It teaches perseverance, allows for mistakes and let's kids be creative within boundaries. These are the hallmarks for great kids activities!
So go create!

Framed Family Pictures

I think it's a record. Actually, I know it's a record. Within a month of having our family pictures taken, they are printed, framed and on the wall!! Yippee!
I'm in love.
Here are all of the framed prints. I'm a continuity person, so I was thrilled to be able to go back to the same frame shop and have our new family pictures placed in matching frames. In fact, I was able to recycle the large frame. It holds our family picture from 2006. I think it is great that they will just put the new picture on top of the old picture. Now I don't have to worry about where I am going to store old framed pictures!

Don't you just love it when something works out the way you envision?!!
So if you need an incredible photographer, check out
And if you need a great printer/framer (she can print on canvas and then mount/frame if you want too!) Go check out

And no, .. there is not kickback to me for giving these ladies a shout out... they are just friends who do great work! :)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Making a colored pencil "old master"

I love the look of the Old Master's painting. I really like Jean-Batpiste-Simeon Chardin's works.
And as much as I would love to have student's work in oils, there is not enough time or money to devote to oil painting.. at least not for Art 1 and 2 students. So, after seeing a process last year at art teacher convention that used India ink and Lyra pencils, I have created my own, "Old Masters" lesson using lower cost supplies and addresses multiple art standards. It has become a keeper lesson!
The first thing I have students do is draw a still life from observation. This is done on just normal paper that you would do a colored pencil drawing. You can use the good stuff or just tag board. This takes a while. They must color the drawing in its entirety and need to have at least 10 layers of pencil wax. I like using a number of colors on each item as well. While the bottle is green, it has many shades of green, blue, purple, yellow and white in it. This is the easiest way to build up layers of wax, by building up layers of color.
Once the drawing is complete. TAKE A PICTURE OF IT. Or scan it. Because it won't look like this again! And if the student's haven't used enough layers of pencil, the piece is going to be ruined in the next step!

Take India ink and some cotton or gauze and rub ink over the BACK of the drawing. Completely coat the paper.
It should look like this.
 Flip the paper over and now coat the front. Yes, you are covering up your drawing!
 Now take a clean piece of gauze/cotton and rub off the ink.

Once you have rubbed off all the ink you want off, go back in with colored pencils or wax crayons or oil pastels and add color back in areas of the drawing.
These are the supplies that I used.
Here is a close up of the finished piece.

And there you have it. My "old master" colored pencil still life!
Want to make one for yourself or have your class do this project? Click on the image below to take you to my Snapguide! This let's you view the in depth tutorial on your smartphone, ipad or computer! (I've even included a couple of video segments!)

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Jogging for Judah: A JOY RUN!

Doug and I ran in another race yesterday. This was near and dear to my heart as my friends and BRF's (best running friends) were putting this race on to support the adoption process of another BRF Kristy! How cool is that!
This race was done in our hometown but as luck would have it, I was out of town at my once a year scrapbook retreat. So I got up a little earlier Saturday morning and drove back to town to race.
Here is most of our group prior to the race.
Side note: Lesley doesn't run barefoot, but she does wear those rubber individual toe running shoes. Yes, I'm sure they have a real name!

It was great weather for a summer race. It was hot and humid, but we live in Texas and that is to be expected. I was really hoping to push for a PR, but I didn't take into account the toll 2 days of sitting doing nothing but scrapbooking would take on my hip.  I started the race with an achy left hip. Probably not the best conditions for a fast race. I also had had five "spells" or whatever you would call them on Friday where I know my heart did it's weird stop and re-fire thing. It is obvious to me that my constant state of motion is probably a good thing, because after sitting still and doing very little activity for 2 days resulted in my hands being all trembly and my heart hurting by Friday night. Good race conditioning I know! But before you get worried.. remember the cardiologist said my heart was great and was most consistant in beating when I am running. see, I needed to race!

Anyway... the ladies that I run with all the time and I very much enjoy running together. Here are a couple of the proofs from yesterday's race. You can see us in the background laughing and chatting while Doug is running very seriously ahead of us...



About a mile in, one friend started having asthma issues. We finally got her inhaler to her about mile 4. It was getting a little scary. We've decided that we will all get inhalers too and carry them with us in case she forgets again! Needlesstosay, pushing for a PR wasn't the priority of the day! But you know, that is one of the privileges of running with this group of ladies.. I know that without a doubt, if it had been me, they would have waited and helped me! I am so thankful to have this group of STRONG women to live my life with!

So back to the race, with about a mile left, I saw Doug a couple of blocks up... hmmm. yes I am that competitive. So I told my friends, I am off! And I raced Doug down and beat him by 30 seconds. I know, that's shallow of me. But hey what can I say, I know that in another 6 months Doug will have pushed past my times and will be waiting on me at the finish line. I gotta get the better time (even if it is just 30 seconds) while I can!

Here Doug is with his SECOND place medal!!

And here we both are with our medals. I got third in my division. Really I got fourth, but since the overall female winner came from my age group, I got bumped up! Guess I should be thankful that Wendy (another one of my BRF's) is soo stinkin' fast!

And here we are after the race. I must say, our little running community cleaned up on the awards!
I must say, it's a pretty cool thing to get to run with friends, take home a medal and know that you have helped bring a child to her forever family!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

A Friendship Wreath

We had some new friends over for dinner this week. After we ate, my friend gave me this wreath.
I love it.

And while she dogged her gift, it hit me that this was the first handmade gift that I have received in a long, long time. As she gave me the precious gift, she apologized saying that since I was a crafter and art teacher.... blah blah blah... that I might not like this GIFT!
And it got me thinking, why do we think that people who make art wouldn't appreciate other's art? I do this myself. I dog my own gifts. I dog my ability. I dog my craft. I realize that I do it out of fear of rejection. I'm afraid that what I just painstakingly made is not going to be received well. That it won't be appreciated, or it might even be made fun of.
So here is what I have decided to do. I'm going to take appreciation to the streets! I am going to start telling people that I appreciate their efforts, their time, their gifts. Because heck, I don't have to like something a student made, but I can tell them that I appreciate their efforts! I don't have to enjoy standing in line for the cashier at the store, but I can appreciate the fact that the cashier is their to help me and I can verbalize that!
So, to my dear friend. I am so thankful for the gift of your friendship, the gift of your smile, the gift of our daughters budding friendships. And I truly thank you for the beautiful handcrafted wreath you made me. I appreciate the gift and you.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

An Intensive Landscape Rehab Project

A friend of mine owns a nursery and does landscaping (The Greenhouse, in DeLeon TX). I asked her to stop by and help us with a plan to take back the yard before the vines completely took over the entire yard!
So she did.
And came back with a PLAN!
Here are before pictures of the yard. Yes, it is wild and au'natural!


One the first day of the project five workers worked ALL DAY on the large bed by the driveway. The vines were crazy difficult to take out and the honeysuckle had wrapped itself in and around the trees!

 By the end of day one, I think the workers were cussing us!
 Day two was spent cleaning out the other beds and moving rocks.

Day three was the payoff. Everything started coming together.


We chose to use pecan hulls as mulch. A green material and long lasting. And I really like the way it looks in the beds!

And finally the evening of Day 3... really their Day 4 so much work happened in one day!

I LOVE the results. We still have the sod to go in and the front bed to decide on.. but the difference is amazing!

This was just stage one of what the landscaper called our "intensive landscape rehab project!" I can't wait to see what she comes up with next!