Thursday, September 30, 2010

Christmas Cards 2010

My Christmas cards are done! All I need to do is add a picture and address the envelopes.

Here is a random sample of the basic cards. I know that it is very time efficient to make them all the same, but I have never been able to stick to one single design.

My cards are long and I used scraps from previous years card adventures to decorate the right edge of each card. A photo will cover the left-hand side. I think I will use a black and white photo so that it won't clash with my various color schemes.

Here is one of my favorites. So simple.

Most of the papers and stamps are (C) Close to My Heart. ;-)

The weather is finally cooler here...I can't believe what a hot, hot summer it was. The chillier air is so comforting and nice. I love jackets and hoodies.

I can't wait for Christmas!

Jury Duty...

Getting stuck in the elevator with a group of people is one of my biggest fears. I'm not super claustrophobic but the fear always creeps into my mind when I get into an elevator with other people.

This week I performed my civic duty as a jury member. I'll admit that serving on a jury of my peers, addresses some of the same fears I have about getting stuck in an elevator.

Boring predicament with lots of waiting.
Nothing to talk about.
No end in sight.
Fear about what is going to happen next. And afterward.
Thinking about all the things I should be doing.
Phone restrictions.
Annoying personalities.
Bad breath.

All of these things could be associated with both jury service and getting trapped in an elevator full of people. Or like being on Lost. Or any situation where you are stuck with a bunch of strangers and you have to make decisions and worry about the unknown.

I think in any situation where you have to work with a group of strangers, a certain chain of events takes place. First, if you are like me, you try to recognize the people in the group, even if you don't know their names you create a sort of pheumonic device for their faces.

Serving as a juror this week, I found myself attempting to make a connection with each of the jurors by figuring out who they looked like in my family, on t.v. or in my circle of aquaintances.

One man looked just like my friend Brannon, so as juror number 7, he was automatically 'Brannon #7' (and obviously the person I would most likely turn to in case of a zombie invasion if we were under attack during our stint at the courthouse.)

On woman was 76-years-old with gray hair, ice blue eyes and two moles on her face. She looked a little like my mom, mixed with a yeti, so she was 'my abominable mom'. Seriously, it was weird.

Another woman had red hair and mannerisms that reminded me of my aunt Sharon, so she was 'aunt sharon' and a there was another who reminded me of a teacher at school because of the way she would make her points and blink while looking at me, I felt like we were on the same team.

None of these characteristics were a personality flaw, just my way of feeling like I belonged the group...I had a few family members, a friend and even a co-worker. It made me feel much more at ease with the situation.

And serving on a jury is a serious situation.

The second thing you try to do if you are in a group of people, after finding at least one 'familiar' face, is try to make small talk to determine who your allies are and who is just down right annoying. We were all dying to talk about the trial, but we weren't allowed to discuss anything until the deliberation process.

So, we talked about the weather, dinner, how cold it was in the courthouse...we tried to find anything we could to make conversation.

At this point, it was clear that I was going to get along with everyone just fine. All of the jurors were friendly, and no one had a loud-opinionated demeanor.

In a crowded elevator, I think I could have gotten along with this group just fine. Thank god.

Third, after you all get over your nerves and the ice has been broken, you try to find issues with which you can agree on within the group. I tried to stay away from this...I took a book...and I just tried not to form a strong opinion about anyone or anything going on around me. My job was to be open-minded and listen to all the facts. I think it made thins easier.

Fourth, bonding ensues.  The end is in sight and you know you have done what was expected of its just a matter of taking care of the final business.

In this case....we all got along so we started to make jokes. Half-heartedly about people or events related to the case. We had all bonded over our experience together and we were able to laugh about the bikers outside the courthouse...we worried, jokingly, that the gang was probably waiting to watch us come out so they could get revenge. We knew we were safe, but we couldn't help but see the humor in something, after such a serious day.

So if you ever have to serve on a jury...don't be too scared...the entire process is pretty interesting. It is our civic duty, as members of a democracy to make a contribution to justice. It is a lot like what you see on t.v., but its different when you are part of the show. When you have to make a responsible is very serious and it does weigh on your heart.

I do have a few suggestions of things you might want to consider if you are ever called to serve:
1. Take a jacket or sweater
2. Take a book, it gets boring on the recesses
3. Take some mints and/or gum
4. Take change for the vending machines
5. Don't wear perfume because people are sensitive
6. People have a mint ready to help mask their odor. Seriously.
7. Be prepared to sit. And wait. In uncomfortable chairs.
8. Be prepared to have an open mind.
9. Have your listening ears on.
10. Have a good attitude. Be humble and grateful for the judicial system. We live in a free society and the person on trial deserves a group of peers that will respect his innocence until proven guilty.

It was an honor to serve on this jury...I would definitely do it again, without dread.

Now I am behind at work, but that is okay.

What I did was important.

And I learned a lot about myself and working with a group of people.

Luckily, I didn't get trapped in an elevator with a bunch of rude, opinionated stinky group was pretty decent and we were able to reach a decision. I feel good about the experience.
The photos in this post are from my Holga camera. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Juror Number 0157....please stand up....

I'm reporting for jury duty this morning. I thought it would give me a chance to sleep in, but the alarm went off at the usual time so I am awake, enjoying a bit of blogging time instead of sleeping.

I got a summons to appear at the courthouse today to report for duty...I am actually really excited. I hope I get picked as a juror for a trial. My boss got selected for a federal case once, and she had to be gone for 6 weeks, it was actually really cool. A change of pace. The adult world. Today I will have a chance,  to sit and listen (for the most part)...I won't have to be 'ON' all day, just on autopilot....teachers can probably relate...we had meetings all day on Monday and it was the same thing. I was there, I was physically present and my brain was on, but I wasn't really in charge of anything and I didn't have to give any presentations or do any demonstrations. Such a good feeling.

Days like this have the potential for great writing opportunities. ;-)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My Summer With Holga Part 4

I tired to take lots of Holga pictures this summer. This is one of my final rolls of film. Pictures are from St. Louis, Joplin and surrounding areas. Enjoy!

See part 3 here.
Part 2 here.
Part 1 here.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Boxed Macaroni and the Big Bad Internet

This evening I was stirring the macaroni, thinking about how the powdered cheese mixture looks a lot like a color only found on its own planet of processed foods (sort of like know, electric orange powdered cheese is a foreign color that probably shouldn't even be a food because it is definitely poison)...ahem...where was I...oh yes, stirring and thinking....

I was thinking about writing. I was thinking about my blog. I was thinking about my goals and how I want to create a place with REAL content. Interesting content. Content that actually inspires others, not just copy/paste boring posts. I want to use my blog to teach, to entertain, to share beauty and sorrow...

BUT when I sat down at my computer, I got so distracted by flickr, checking my email twenty times, twitter, other blogs, facebook and all the other crap in the whirling, swirling, colorful internet cloud (hmmm, that could be a beautiful picture....a cloud that is like Hokusai's wave...that is also the internet....that also depicts 'surfing')...that I got writers block.

How is it that the words were flowing out of me when I was stirring in the bacos (I was trying to cover the 'cheap' taste of the boxed macaroni with supremely bacon-y flavorful processed bits of heaven) but when I opened up the information highway my brained turned into goo?

Technology is so powerful. Technology is beautiful. The internet is grand. Blah blah blah. If I let it, I think that the internet could consume all of my time. I could just spend all weekend watching internet videos, reading blogs and then clicking on all the sidebar links, making playlists on, favoriting photos on flickr,  editing photos on picnik. There is so much garbage out any of it relevant? Does any of that stuff really matter? Does it make a difference? Will the internet help me be a better person?

On one hand, studies have shown that word games keep my brain active and help my memory later in life so I feel like playing Words With Friends on my iPhone isn't total garbage....but I will often choose to play, surf or fiddle with my touch screen over REAL talking, listening to music, reading a book, creating something by hand....I have LOTS of hobbies...but it is TOO easy to close the door to my studio and sit in the recliner with my little gadget and fiddle around with some mindless app instead of using my 'relaxing' time to do something to truly relax. (Relaxing time = chill out time after school or right before bed if I've had a busy night.)

After school today (before relaxing time and way before the bacos and macaroni), I spent some time surfing around for Character Education resources. My plan is to mentor a student after school once a week.

I don't want to tutor someone in math or reading....There are too many other things that are important in life....I will leave the core subject tutoring up to the classroom teachers....I am a 'SPECIAL' teacher... (special teacher = music, art, p.e., counselor, librarian) I believe that kids are never going to be well-rounded if they don't appreciate the arts.....if they don't build a relationship with someone at school...and if they don't get to have fun trying new things.

Sure, reading and math are important...but the extra fun stuff is getting squeezed out of the school day, bit by bit....teachers aren't doing really fun units any more, the inspirational ones, the ones with the fun science experiments and the 'travel' unit with all the cool props and food explorations...there is too much pressure to make sure that first graders can count money and write sentences.

I've never been a mentor, one-on-one with a kid before, but I've already got the girl in mind. And I am looking forward to building a relationship with her, teaching her new FUN things and also getting to see her excel in the arts and in her life as she learns and gains experiences through this new after-school session with me.

I will be sacrificing some 'relaxing time' and some internet surfing time in order to spend more time after school as a mentor, but I think it will be like the will make me will be real and it will be like this blog...a place for inspiration.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Blog Update

Lots of new blog posts and updates are 'in the works' just not enough time to actually write...I have been painting! And sewing! And I made all of my Christmas cards!! Nothing to complain about!!

I've got lots of posts started for next week. Hope to get some hyperlinks added and finish up some writing so that I can set those to post. I have been feeling super inspired lately. I hope this keeps up. 

;-) Happy full moon and happy (almost) weekend!!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Are You Ready For Some Football?

I sure am!!

Heading up to Arrowhead Stadium tonight for the KC vs. Chargers Game. GO CHIEFS!!

I am super excited to wear my red wig and super fan cape ;-) More pictures coming soon!!

Be sure to check out the Birds of a Feather Blog today to see a really great owl pillow!!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Top 15 Memorable Albums...that will always stick with you....

Keeping with the theme of self-portraits this week, I thought it would be fun to post this recent FaceBook note that wrote with my top 15 most memorable albums.

The rules: Don't take too long to think about it -choose fifteen albums you've heard that will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes.

No Judging! These are not in order:

Salt-n-Peppa Black's Magic Album
Stroke 9 Nasty Little Thoughts
Matchbox 20 Yourself or Someone Like You
Garth Brooks No Fences
Christina Aguilera (Self-Titled First album)
Jack Johnson In Between Dreams
Sublime 40 Ounces to Freedom
The Chronic Dr. Dre
ZZ Top Tush
Kings of Leon Aha Shake- Heartbreak
TLC Crazy, Sexy, Cool
Modest Mouse Moon Over Antartica
Franz Ferdinan (Self-Titled)
Lilly Allen Allright, Still
Lady Gaga Fame

Friday, September 10, 2010

So, is your year going?

 How is school?

I get that question a lot....I'm sure most people get asked about their careers....So, how is lawyering? How is the lawn care business? How are things going at the office?

What am I supposed to say?

How do I achieve an interesting response without being too boring, mundane, depressing, or overly-enthusiastic?

I always say that things are going good....great...alright...fine....same-old-same-old...back into the routine....etc....

But if people really knew how tiring it is....
How depressing it is...
How lonely life is in a kids world....
I could probably make them cry with one story about the little girl whose personality completely changed in just a couple of weeks. She went from being a sweet, smart, normal something totally different...the changes were subtle...but when things are going on at home, I can usually tell...I only see them once a week, but their artwork always tells a story....even if they don't intend for it to...
How organized I have to be...
How much I have to clean...wash dishes, wash tables....
How many times I have to put 24 chairs up on the tables and take them all two art rooms...
How much stuff I have to haul in my car....
How bad my back and feet hurt when I try to wear cute shoes...
To play a game and have a 5-year-old yell 'this is boring' at the back of the class is incredibly discouraging...
When a lesson totally bombs and I just want to cry because I have a room full of chaos....(doesn't happen very often, but when it does....YIKES)
The duties. Working in a school isn't just about 'art'....
The co-workers....nearly all women....(I worked for the Highway Patrol in college, mostly men....) it took me a while to make friends at school because there isn't much time for 'adult' communication.
To haul car loads of clay 10 minutes to another building, load and unload them into the kiln room to be fired and then hauled back, using my own gas and time....
To go to Wal-Mart and be spotted by my students...


If people really knew how fun it is to be an art teacher...
To read those books with the crazy voices and make the kids laugh when I drop my marker 35 times during a demonstration and I have to keep bending over to pick it up...
My job really is all about coloring and cutting and painting and gluing....Sometimes I feel guilty when my 'prep' involves writing my name in bubble letters and coloring it in....its just too fun to be work, right?
To get told I am beautiful every day....
To get a dozen hugs, high fives, smiles, and love notes every day....
To be admired by hundreds of sweet souls...
To be so excited about the first day of school that you can't sleep the week before....and sometimes even after a long weekend...
To plan, strategize and think about a project over and over...until I finally get it right...and I figure it out, inside and out so that I can break it down for non-readers, English-as-a-second language, and special needs learners...
To see a project or a unit all the way through, so that every kid is successful and proud of what they created.
Telling a funny joke or a story, that only a kid would laugh at...
To spark a fire for art just with one student's art at the mall, art show, or even in the cafeteria.
To talk about art with kids....and know that they just 'get' it....
To go to Wal-Mart and be a celebrity....'That's my art teacher!" They will whisper and shout to their parents....
And yeah, school is going fine this year....But I am about to fingerpaint with 11 classes of kindergarten....its fundamental at age five and the kids love I sort of have to do it....but I am looking forward to the day it is over.

I am also looking forward to an art conference in October to talk about art teacher things with other art teachers in Missouri and I am really looking forward to it! (If you are going to Knob this year, send me an email, we should totally hang out! I will be staying in the night owl cabin!!)

So if you ask me how school is going, I will probably say 'good' or 'fine' but if you really want to know the truth, it just depends on the day that I have had....and which side of the BUT is weighing more heavily on my heart at the moment.

(These pictures are from my photo booth....I wore a vintage blue polka dot dress for blue day last week....)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Orange you going to say knock-knock?

Do you ever look through your photos and notice themes?

Recently I was browsing back through my photo booth photos and noticed a few pictures from my orange dining room. I love the dining room because of the white chair railing and hand painted stripes along the bottom. I don't often take pictures in that room because in the evening the lighting is super orange (middle picture) but in the morning, (bottom picture) the lighting can be really quite nice.

I was having a little laugh at my changing hair and I thought you might enjoy a look at this great theme in my photo booth photos on my Mac.

Photo 6.
April or May 2008. Rocking the bob!! I am thinking about going back to a bob, with the bangs eventually.

Photo 131.
Not sure when this one was taken....I was sick of straightening the bob...I wanted layers. This haircut was pretty cute in person, easy to manage and very versatile.

Photo 662.
September 2010. My hair has really grown! I love having long hair. I have been trying out lots of styles. I never thought I would like bangs, but I DO love them! I took down the Venus Di Milo Botticelli reproduction so that I could make a hair tutorial (Featured on the Birds of a feather blog this week, be sure to check it out!!). I was worried the sexy redhead in the background would be too distracting. ;-)
Hope you are having a great week! Thanks for reading! ;-)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Life is good...

Last night it rained....and I loved I have a roast cooking at home. Life is good! (**Edited: Rinda, yes this is a self-portrait!)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Blogs that inspire an art teacher!

As an art teacher, I am constantly on the lookout for new projects to do with my students. Teaching ages 5-12, I have to have access to a variety of ideas for all ability and age groups. What works or 10-year-olds might just be disasterous with a class of 24 kinders!

In addition to the magazines that I read at school, I also follow lots of gifted and talented art teachers who supply tons of great resources that they use in their art room. Even if you aren't working with classes of kids in a traditional sense, you might be in need of ideas for a girl scout group, Sunday school class, VBS, or for your own children. 

BEWARE: each of these blogs have a side bar filled with additional art teacher blogs and it can be a little overwhelming...sometimes I get really distracted and overwhelmed myself when I have 17 windows open because I clicked every single one of their links (sometimes to find the source of one picture in my inspiration file....oy...) I just go off on a browsing 'tangent' and never really accomplish anything since I am just looking, looking, looking. It can be addicting!

A gorgeous source of inspiration for painting projects. Laura has been an art teacher for 14 years and paints with her students way more than I do!! She has so many great ideas and she always brings the projects together at the end in some sort of amazing bulletin board display that looks like an art installation.

Sometimes all it takes is one picture of a child's drawing to spark an idea for an entire unit of lessons. Mary is so creative and infuses childrens literature into her classroom. I often use books as sources of inspiration so I have many works of art from her blog in my inspiration file.  Recently she posted a link list to her favorite blogs and I have been clicking on each one, reading the previous entries, searching for interesting posts, and inspiring artwork!

Deep Space Sparkle
This site always has so many great ideas for young students. The majority of mine are in kindergarten so this is a great source of inspiration for my lessons. She also has some wonderful and cheap books available for download. I have purchased several of them!

The Crafty Crow
One of my favorite resources for crafts. This is the best site if you are looking for crafts with kids or groups of kids. It doesn't focus too heavily on fine arts, but it has so many links to great projects, it is an awesome site.

Art Projects for Kids
This is hands down the best spot for ideas. Kathy Barbaro is one of the best art teacher bloggers I have found. Her instructions are simple, the images she shares are useful, sometimes even with a step-by-step drawing guide. The blog is simple and easy to navigate and also has class printable murals, practice sheets and templates for sale at around $5 each. 

I sincerely appreciate all of the art teacher blogs out there that make my life easier.  

When I was in college, I thought that I knew so much about 'FINE' art that I would never, never, never do 'babyish' stuff with my kids. Macaroni...hahaha....glitter...bleh....yarn and popsicle sticks??? I thought I could seriously teach elementary art for 20 years and never drag that stuff into the ART of artmaking. I had a very snooty opinion about cheesy materials.

Then I did my student teaching.

My mentor used colored sand.

Colored macaroni.

Woven yarn bowls.

Popcicle stick puppets.

It was my job to implement her curriculum so I HAD to use that stuff.  I thought the kids might think it was babyish too. But they didn't. They LOVED it! I have been incorporating those 'familiar' kid craft items in my art lessons since day one. And I haven't looked back. Of course I still set up still lifes, self-portrait projects and other 'traditional fine art' subjects....but I ALWAYS have more fun when we get to throw some glitter on something!

This post is for Whitney!! ;-) Good luck with homeschooling!

Monday, September 6, 2010

I {Heart} Swedish Bloggers

Hello! Happy Labor Day!!

Lately I have been on the look out for some new blogs, new content in general. One afternoon I was searching for vintage hair styles and I came across a whole slew of fantastic blogs from some sweet little ladies in Sweden.

In college, I spent six weeks studying in Sweden where I developed an appreciation for Swedish design (Ikea especially) and the whole Swedish culture. I have started following several of these blogs (after browsing through the backlog at all of the amazing pictures!) Even though I can't understand most of the text, I love the style, grace and class portrayed in the photographs of these gorgeous Swedish bloggers. Admittedly, I don't know much about them from what I am able to 'read' but the pictures are just so fantastic, I don't need much more than that.

I hope you will find some inspiration in this post!!

Sandra @ 
She has an English blog Google translator on the homepage of this blog to make it easier to navigate and read her content.

I adore Sandra's look. Prior to 6 months ago, she had a personal metro blog address here. And I found tons of great inspiration through the back logs. Tons of yummy food pictures, gorgeous masquerade costumes, fantastic fashion and one of the most gorgeous blogs I have seen in such a long time.

So refreshing to see such a renewed source for inspiration!!

Swedish Elle blogger Elsa Billgren @ Need Help Dressing? is absolutely gorgeous!!

 And she has a fantastic apartment!

Blogging for Veckorevyn in Stockholm, Linnea and Jennifer are absolutely gorgeous!

Thrifting!! YAY!

Originally, I found a link to their previous blog, Sweetnothing and browsed all of the old blog posts for tons of inspiration and yummy looking Swedish food!!