Thursday, January 5, 2017

Helllllloooo.... is anyone there?

Hello Blog Land!!  It has been almost 2 years since my last post and a lot has happened in 2 years!  I took a break from blogging, which was anticipated but without a plan to get back into blogging.  I was unsure if I would/could even come back and blog again.  But here I am and I am back.  My goal for this year is to start blogging again, mostly for myself.  I find it therapeutic to be reflective and thankful.  It is also a memory saver, like the vials of memories stored near the pensive in Dumbledore's office.  I can put some of my thoughts, projects, patterns, etc. on the blog to refer to later... cleaning out the storage in my mind, opening it up for new information.

So where to start?  Let me start where I left off... February 2015 was my last semester taking 15 credits in school for my second bachelor degree.  I was in the thick of my current classes, getting ready to leave for spring break to meet my parents in Florida and take the kids on the whole Disney/Universal ride, I was also applying for my student teaching positions and becoming very apprehensive about my upcoming job search.  I knew that it would be very difficult to find an open position and even if I found one, I knew what my competition looked like and it looked like a lot of experience that I didn't have.  Furthermore, it had been 12 years since I went through a formal interview process and in 2003, I secured the first job I applied to, so even that left me unexperienced with the interviewing process.  But I trucked along.  I secured 2 student teaching positions in a district I had previously been unfamiliar with.  My first practicum cooperative teacher gave me a piece of advice that has stuck with me, even to this day.  He said that when getting a job in any field, "It's who you know." And with that, I made sure to know as many people as possible, which has been so rewarding because I have met some incredible, like-minded, generous, and amazing individuals that I feel so lucky to have met and I am able to call them my friends today.  Essentially, I found "my-people" and I feel so thankful to be a part of this group of awesomeness.

The summer of 2015 left me with 13 term papers to write, begrudgingly.  But I did it and moved smoothly into student teaching in the Fall of 2015.  I learned a lot and graduated with my 2nd degree in Art Education in December '15.  Although it was exciting and a relief to graduate for a 2nd time, I didn't feel it was as much of an accomplishment as I thought it would be.  You see, I didn't go back to school to get a 2nd degree... I went back to school to get a position as an art teacher and although I had the degree and certification in December 2015...  I didn't yet have the job that I so desperately was seeking.  However patience is a virtue, one of which I have not yet acquired.

In the Spring of 2016 I threw myself into substitute teaching.  I was subbing in 3 different districts and secured an 8 week long-term substitute position as an elementary art teacher.  Now, I took the position for several reasons, even though I had no intention of teaching elementary school.  For 1,  I wanted to see if I could do it and 2, I wanted to see if it was something that I didn't want to do after all.  I was surprised to find that I was quite capable, having elementary aged children, I was able to combine my knowledge of the K-5 developmental levels with my passion for art and my new knowledge of teaching.  I was not surprised to find that, although I did like it and I miss my students dearly, it wasn't an age group I would want to teach on a full-time basis.  During this time, I also interviewed for an elementary position in the same district I was subbing in and the first screening interview went really well but...  I completely bombed the 2nd interview.  Again, it wasn't my 1st choice for a full-time position, so in the end it was bitter/sweet.  The 8 week long-term sub position ended on a Friday, and I began a new long-term position at my high school alma mater the following Monday.  Also on that Friday, I scheduled an interview for a new art teacher position in the 2nd high school in my alma mater district.  I was nervous and excited all at the same time because I knew all of the art teachers at both high schools and would love to be a part of the team.

So I interviewed, I felt it went pretty well.  Unlike in previous interviews, I didn't have any immediate  feedback as to how I did in the interview.  I have had several interviews where I had an immediate, "This was a great interview" and the one horrible interview became so uncomfortable toward the end that I just stood up and said, "O.K., cool.  Thanks." and left (I told you I bombed it).  But this current interview was the one I really wanted and I dissected each and every question and my answers with a fine-toothed comb for the next few days.  And 2 weeks after the interview,  I was offered the position!!!  You remember all of the accomplishment, relief, excitement, and pride that I was missing at graduation...  well it hit all at once as I was on cloud 9!!!! I was practically doing cartwheels in the park lot as I left and I am pretty sure I was singing, or cheering, or crying, or jumping for joy....  I don't know which, it's all a happy blur now.  I called all of the people I had on my list to call when I secured a position and when I got home, my husband found me sitting on the steps in the front of our house, texting pretty much everyone I knew with texts that read something like this: "I GOT THE JOB!!!!!😄😍😄😍😄😍".  To this, my husband said, "You know....  you can copy and paste all of that into the new text messages." My reply was, "NO!  I am enjoying typing each and every letter and each and every emoji. And frankly, all of my hard work has earned me the right to type each one!"  Ha!

Flash forward to now, I am still on cloud 9 from securing my position and I keep pinching myself because I knew what my competition looked like and I cannot believe I got the job!  Not because I was not qualified or capable, but because I didn't have as much experience that, I assume, most of the other applicants had and I think to some, that holds a lot of weight.  But boy, I am getting a lot of experience now.  With one whirlwind of a semester down, today was supposed to be our first day back from winter break, but we had a snow day.  Which is a big bummer because I was ready, plus starting school on a Friday is just kinda silly.  All of the other teachers were bummed by this storm's timing too. But that's ok, I will be prepared first thing tomorrow morning, bright and early!

So what does this mean for my blog? Well, with a full time position as a high school art teacher, I don't have as much time as I did in years past to devote to my blog.  However, this is one of my New Year's resolutions because I think (believe it or not) blogging is "good for my soul" [quote taken directly from my friend, Miriam, and very fitting].  My goal is to blog once a month and I am going to try my hardest to stick to that...  keep in mind I have a lot on my plate as a new teacher and I have also signed up for 2 book studies at school...  perhaps I might blog about the books?  Being an art teacher might also mean that there will be more art, lessons, and teacher-y stuff included in my posts...  which will be awesome!

Now that everyone is caught up, I will move into the meat and bones of the post.  One of the things that I have acquired in the last 2 years is a fervor for fashion, or rather just clothes.  I believe you could probably call me a clotheshorse...  but mostly it is because I like to shop, love finding a sale, and now I have a reason to wear more clothes.  In fact, in an effort to save time in the morning (as to not have to climb in my small closet to find an outfit) and to extend my closet space, last year the hubs and I built a stylish/industrial clothing rack/cart.
It is made with silver-toned pipes, fittings, and flanges, 3 pieces of wood (17"x66"x1") stained a dark walnut, and 4 industrial casters. I think total, we spent $300-$350 on all of the supplies, which is a small price to pay for almost double the closet space.  Plus there are 2 shelves on the bottom for shoes, and one at the top for purses.  I love the cart, but if there was one thing I would change, it would be the size of the side pipes above the rack, connecting to the top shelf.  Those pipes could have been half the size and I realized this after we assembled the cart.  The only issue is, we would have had to take apart the whole cart in order to change out the 2 pipes and so we just decided to leave it.   If you consider making one, I would also recommend buying hangers that match...  since this is in the open in my bedroom (and some may find that odd, but open closets are currently trendy). See this post for more tips.

I also wanted a jewelry system for the jewelry I wear regularly...  mostly costume. I wanted something I could easily see what I had in order to make a quick selection at 6am in the morning.  I saw this post/tutorial and loved the idea of having a modular open system for displaying my jewelry.  So I made my best friend (Bradley, remember him?) go with me to several ReStores and I found an old (solid and very heavy) wood door.  It's awesome, chippy and exactly what I wanted.  This was clearly from a front door of a house built in the late 60s maybe 1970s, given the wood color and decoration on the side that I'm sure faced toward the outside. I decided on the painted side, which is more of an off white.  I added towel bars from Ikea, a key ring holder and wall hooks from Target, and square nails that look hand-forged from Home Depot.  The mirror and framed pin board I had (probably from Hobby Lobby) and the hooks on the towel bars are from Ikea.

I also repainted my French Provincial dresser I use as a nightstand.  Remember when I painted it teal on this post?  This summer my uncle visited and installed tile in our house, everywhere that was previously linoleum, which meant the carpet also had to be replaced (I would have gone with wood or a similar solid surface but we won't be in this house forever), and this meant that I had to paint my bedroom.  It was in need of a new coat, plus I have been converting all of the trim in the house from honey oak to white and I wasn't about to do any painting in a newly carpeted room so I painted before the carpet was installed.  I am neutralizing (for an eventual sale) and we went with a medium gray for the wall color in the bedroom.  I decided to go for an "up cycled glam" look... plus I was really inspired by this post and what I liked most about it is the 2-toned finish on the inspiration dresser. So I used a hammered silver paint for the body of the dresser and a metallic silver for the drawers/handles.

I love how it turned out and the best part is, the hammered silver paint adhered better to the top, which was a slick formica before I initially painted it teal.  Here is a close up of the 2-toned details.  I also put a little thin black glaze around the details to make them pop.

I really wanted to fit in Stitch Fix into this post but I have run out of time and must save it for next time. I hope this post finds all of my readers well and until next time, Happy New Year!

Friday, February 13, 2015


I know.... I know, I've been MIA lately.  In fact, it's been almost an entire year since my last post. I apologize, I keep meaning to post in my spare time, but that explains the problem... I am currently running extremely low on spare time.  In January, 2014, I went back to school for my second bachelor degree and it has been incredibly hectic here ever since.  I had a few spare moments tonight, so I thought I'd let everyone know that I am still here and creative, just lacking on time.  I'd like to share completed projects that I had promised to share, more projects, and past happenings.  So here it goes...

I couldn't resist sharing this self portrait my son created during the 3rd grade.  I absolutely love it and it is still on my wall of fame!

When I was in Chicago visiting my girl, Jessica, we had a photo booth session.  As a 'thank you' for hosting my trip, I replicated the film strip at 1.5x the size in graphite and gifted it to Jessica.  I kept the original film strip as a souvenir from my trip.

I was so incredibly inspired by Lucky Jackson's stitched portraits, that I used her technique to create similar portraits of my kids...

This one turned out alright, but I was really taken by the backside stiching,  pictured on the left.

We had another robin make a nest in the tree in our front yard.  In just a few short weeks the baby birds grew up and flew away.

Unfortunately, these baby robins weren't as lucky.  After a spring storm, we found these guys on the ground.  We took them in, nursed them back to health, and released them in a nearby green space.

We also hatched baby quail in the spring.

Did I mention that my 9 year old was a budding artist?

Remember the opera gloves I made for my aunt's wedding last spring?  For her wedding gift, I wanted to make her something special and meaningful, so I made her a "wedding band quilt".  I didn't have the time to create an entire quilt, so I settled on making a small pillow sham.  I wasn't a fan of any of the traditional wedding band quilt patterns, as they tend to have flat sides on the circles... so I created my own pattern and used a paper piecing method to piece the top together.  I didn't manage to get a finished picture, but here is the quilt top completed.  If you look close you will see that it isn't perfect, but for my first real attempt at quilt piecing, I was pretty happy. Besides, you can tell by the errors, it is handmade.  :-)   As a special bonus, I used gold fabric I inherited from my grandmother, who passed away in 2004, and fabric I cut from a few of my dad's old shirts.  I thought this would be more meaningful for my aunt to have her mother and only brother represented in this quilted pillow sham.

I made this fox stole as my mom's Christmas present last year.  You can find the pattern here.

 My passion flower bloomed this past summer... one of my favorite flowers!

And check out this Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!  This was a volunteer that sprouted from our compost!

I re-decorated my house, painted the green-apple wall color a neutral gray and updated the wood toned trim and mantle.  The before picture can be seen here.

These were fun...  I crocheted/knit masks for my cousins.  Both attended their first semester in college  this past fall and I thought, who doesn't need fun masks/disguises in college?  This one is an Ood mask from the Doctor Who series. Pattern can be found here.

And this one is a viking disguise, pattern found here.

I knitted a fun button cowl for my son's art teacher. (I made up the knitting pattern and if I find my notes, I will post this as a free pattern).

 ....  and I made one for the Music teacher too.

On a sad note, our lovable rooster, Duck Dynasty, passed away in early November from old age.  This happened only a few weeks after I created this screen print, which was created as a testament to our family's fondness of our sweet rooster and turned into a tribute piece.

I also played photographer for my friend, Kiesha....  out of the 900+ pictures that I took during this photo session, I did manage to get a few good shots.

I did one of those BYOB painting parties with my craft group...  it was fun, although I wish we had the option to paint more interesting subject matter.

Last but not least, I used this bracelet as inspiration to make my mom a bracelet for Christmas.

That just about catches you up to now.  I have very little time to create, but it still happens now and again. I have big plans for this summer and hope to be able to post sometime between now and then.  If you have any questions about anything or just want to say hi, feel free to e-mail me! Until next time, Happy Crafting!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

New Craft Room!!!!

YAY!!!!!  New craft room reveal!!!!!  I finally put enough together to show you my new room!!! WOOHOOO.  Ok so, here it goes.....

This is as you enter the room.  I would like you to take note of a few things.  First the hallway wall color, it's like a green-apple green.  I wanted a green living room/hallway when we moved into this house (8 years ago) and after considering many green options, I chose this one that was called 'Precious Jasper'.  Many of you will see how I just could't pick any other color.  The second thing that I will like you to take note of the is the super out-dated "honey-oak" trim that is throughout the house.  Well, the new craft room is the first room in my transformation of the honey oak trim into white trim. I plan on painting all of the trim at some point.

This room is so small that I couldn't get a really great picture of the overall inside look.  This is the closest I could get.  I painted the trim white, 3 walls light gray and 1 wall a charcoal chalkboard paint.

We are going to start on the left and work counter clockwise through the room.  Directly behind the entry door is an assortment of odds and ends that were hanging on the wall in previous craft room. I pretty much threw them up on the wall and will definitely change arrangement... sometime.  It will do for now, though.

Next to this is the closet door which holds my knitting needle handmade caddy. Also notice that the door stop is an antique iron.  My grandma used these for door stops in her house so years ago, when I saw one while junkin', I bought it for the same purpose.  It would look so much better on wood floors, but for now, it will work on carpeted ones.

Next, is a piece of furniture that I gained in the move.  This is a book shelf that was previously used on the other side of the basement and now it houses my assortment of well organized craft supplies.  The overall theme of this room is "chalkboard" so it is pretty handy that I already had chalk board clings on my plastic shoe boxes that house my supplies.  On the top is an assortment of craft books and on the bottom....

... is my vintage sewing machine. For display purposes only, although I bet it would work if we wanted it to.

Next is another piece of furniture that I gained in the move.  This is the Ikea Kallax (although it was the Expedite when I bought it) shelf that I purchased a few summers ago for the boys' playroom.  It worked well for that purpose but wasn't being used to it's full potential, so now it's mine.  It takes the place of the hutch/dresser that was part of my childhood set.  This is much more efficient to hold fabric and the hutch/dresser is in the basement.  You will also notice that the top of the shelf holds my button collection.

The majority of my button collection is separated by color, a little OCD? Sure, but I do use them in various knitting projects and such so I found that they are easier to pick from when they are color coordinated.  This small section of buttons, however are still mixed.  They are special because they are button collections that belonged to both of my grandmothers and also the hub's grandmother.  I'm not sure if I will ever use them in any projects, but if I do it will have to be for a very special purpose.

In front of the enormous (compared to the one in the basement) window, is my sewing desk.  Same as in the basement.  I had to do a little arranging to accommodate my thread into the desk drawers, but it works out even better.  I just happened to have the perfect curtains to go in this room.  I originally bought them for my master bedroom and immediately didn't like the way they looked in there.  So I've been storing them for 2 years and was excited when I remembered them and how great they would look in this room.

Here is my drafting table.  I like it right next to my sewing table because I use the desk lamp at both tables.   I bought the large cork board at Hobby Lobby on a half-off sale.  It had a great frame, in the perfect color.  I covered the cork with fabric that I had already in my stash (woohoo) and it looks great.

Desk lamp works great when I am sewing:

Here is the warehouse shelving that I had in my other craft room.  The crates on the top 2 shelves and half of the 3rd shelf are full of yarn....  can you say yarn hoarder? The bottom 2 shelves are a montage of craft and art supplies that do not organize well.  So I bought a few tension rods and made some cafe curtains to cover them up.  You can't see it really well, but the curtains are made out of a gray on gray wood print fabric....  I love it!

A close up of some of my yarning supplies.  I like to use canning jars for storage :-)

And now we have come full circle to the lockers.  You will probably notice that on the top of the lockers is my Twilight Barbie collection.  Don't judge!  There is a long involved story of why I have an almost complete collection of Twilight Barbies, but to give you a brief summery...  this Barbie collection is a direct representation of my love/hate relationship with the entire Twilight franchise. 'nough said.  Moving on....  :-)

Ah.... This is one of my favorite additions to the room, my antique mirrored switch plate.  I have this thing for "themed" switch plates... perhaps it was the influence of that Snoopy switch plate that I had in my bedroom growing up?  We will probably never know.  The point is that when I redecorated this room, I had this vision of an antique beveled, maybe carved or etched, mirrored switch plate.  You think I could fine one?  NO!  I looked on Etsy, I looked on Ebay, I looked on Craigslist, I could not find one AT ALL.  So it was a bit serendipitous that while looking in a basket of junk at my favorite local antique mall, I came across 4 of these switch plates that fit almost my exact dream.  So I bought the one with the most character.

And check out the awesome packaging! From Pennsylvania... the birth state of pretty much my entire family (except me).  Meant to be, right?

I spent a long time picking out a light fixture for the room.  I originally thought about going with a small crystal chandelier.  Well, they were either too big, didn't provide enough light or were too expensive.  I ended up deciding on the Lotus pendant from World Market and I LOOOOVVVVEEE it!

The best part is that I get this huge window that has a great view!  And after being underground in the basement for so long, looking at this view makes me feel like I am floating!!!  

I hope you like my room as much as I do!  Until next time, Happy decorating!  

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Opera Gloves

I don't dress up often.  Weddings are usually the only reason I get dolled up and I attend an average of 1 wedding every 3 years. Last month, my aunt got married!  I had plenty of notice that the wedding was in March and it was in Pennsylvania.  I went to look for a cool weather dress, because I figured with this winter's "Polar Vortex" it would probably be very cold.  I guess there is no such thing as a fashionable formal winter dress because everything I found was sleeveless or strapless.  I ended up with a strapless dress, tights and I decided to knit myself a pair of Opera Gloves!

I had this free pattern for ruffle gloves 'burning a hole in my pocket', so I decided to edit the pattern to make them fit above the elbow.  I held 2 strands together as I knitted, 1 strand of a DK weight silk/wool blend and 1strand of a lace weight yarn that had a bit of glimmer.  (Details can be found here)

Then I picked 3 matching-ish sets of vintage buttons from my enormous collection to add a bit more sparkle to the gloves.  They turned out to be super cute....

 ...and helped accentuate my attitude :-)

Until next time, Happy Knitting!