Friday, April 18, 2014

Hello, Gregory Alan Isakov !!

I honestly have no idea, how I have lived my life up to this point, without knowing of Gregory Alan Isakov!

His sound is so great.  I love him and I just found him today.  I already have plans of buying his albums on vinyl, because I think that that fits his voice better.

Some great songs:

The Stable Song

Big Black Car

Honey, It's Alright

Dandelion Wine

Who am I kidding?  All of his songs are great!  I've been listening to him all day long.  Now, don't you hesitate, give him a listen!!

I don't own this song, just sharing a new found joy in the music world!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Aloe Blacc - Revisited

I wrote about Aloe Blacc in August of 2012 and just over the summer, he was blowing up with his song, 'Wake Me Up', with Avicii.  I am still a big fan, and so, I thought I would share one of his newer songs:  The Man.  My mom likes Aloe Blacc as well, now, but she keeps on calling him L.L. Brown. Ha ha.

A song that I love:

I Need a Dollar:  I like this version, because I love classical music and art!

The Song that is getting him noticed:

Wake Me Up with Avicii

Wake Me Up- Acoustic

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Lucius- Wildewoman

This is one of my new favorites!  I discovered Lucius on NPR Music- Tiny Desk Concerts.  I loved their sound so much, that I purchased their album straight away.  It is fantastic in every way.

Check them out!

Lucius' Facebook Page

Lucius Website

NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert

This is Lucius.

This is their album, 'Wildewoman'.  You can find it here.

You want to own this, I promise!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

14 Art Pieces in 2014

I decided yesterday that I really need to get back into making art.  I used to do it all of the time, because I was in college and an art minor.  Now that I am an art teacher, I find that I make no time for this creative process.  I miss it.  I need it.

So, with that being said, I have decided to make it my mission to create 14 art pieces this year.  In order to inspire myself, I thought I would share with you, a lesson, that I do with my drawing class.

It is called: Texture/ Pattern Name

The reason for this is because you are using pattern to create implied texture.

This really is a simple project for adults to do, but sometimes it really gets some of my students.  No matter how hard it gets for them, they are always pleased with the results.


1 sheet blank paper- Any size that you choose.  I'll be showing a standard size sheet at 8-1/2 x 11 and a larger piece 14x18 which I have my students use.

1  pencil
1  black marker (a Sharpie is fine, but any black marker will do)

Colored pencils in the colors of your choice


Step 1:  Put a one inch border on your paper

Step 2:  Draw your name or nick name in the box, using block letters.  You must fill the entire space and the letters must touch the sides. Use pencil, so that you may correct any mistakes.

Step 3:  Go over your pencil marks with black marker.

Step 4:  Add crossing lines.  Do not start or finish any lines in the corners.

Here are your line options:

      A:  3 zigzag and 1 curved

      B:  3 curved and 1 straight

That gives you a total of 4 crossing lines.  It is best if you carry them from left to right, or from top to bottom.  Overlapping is really great, here!  You may place them wherever you want them in your piece.

Step 5:  Fill in each and every space with a different pattern or design.  You can use letters, numbers, shapes, symbols, lines, dots, etc.  The world in your oyster!  One thing that I tell my students, is to not place the same pattern or design right next to a space with the same pattern.  Go for variety and mix it up.  If you have polka dots is one space, place polka dots on the other side of the paper, or at least a few spaces away.

Your name will be hidden.  That is the fun about this project.  The students love to try and find their classmates name.

Here is an example of one that I am currently working on.  The name is TIFF.  You can see that the background, I am using warm colors (red, orange, yellow, etc.), and in the letters, I am using cool colors (blue, green, purple, etc.).  This will provide a nice contrast and will allow the viewer to easily find the name hidden inside.  You may do this if you so choose.

Step 6:  Color it in using the colors of your choosing.

Here are two examples of student work:

Step 7:  Display it for all to see!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

25 Books that I Read this Year

I always set out to read 25- 30 books on goodreads, for their book challenge.  I think I have only met this goal once.  It was when I was still working at a pizza shoppe in a crazy and wild search for a teaching job, but yet still had ample time to read.  Go figure!  Now that I am a teacher, I find it very hard to find time to do anything... this might be why my blog is so spotty.  Luckily I am on Christmas break right now and I have time to do whatever I please.

Here is the list of books that I read this year for my successful book challenge:
(P.S. I will be reading 30 books my my 30th birthday, in Novemeber next year, some books will overlap, as my birthday is before the end of the year in which Goodreads gives for their book challenge.)

1.  Paris in Color by Nichole Robertson

2.  Welcome to the Dead House by R.L. Stine

3.  Stay out of the Basement by R.L. Stine

4.  Monster Blood by R.L. Stine

5.  White Teeth by Zadie Smith

6.  Naked by David Sedaris

7.  I Was Told There'd Be Cake by Sloane Crosley

8.  Chocolat by Joanne Harris

9.  The Commander's Desire by Jennette Green

10.  Surrender the Heart by MaryLu Tyndall

11.  Stardust by Neil Gaiman

12.  Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

13.  Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

14.  Her Reluctant Bodyguard by Jennette Green

15.  A Nantucket Christmas by Nancy Thayer

16.  The Haunting of Toby Jugg by Dennis Wheatley (I had a paperback, but this link is for Kindle)

17.  Waiting for Wren by Cate Beauman

18.  Morgan's Hunter by Cate Beauman

19.  Falling For Sarah by Cate Beauman

20.  Hailey's Truth by Cate Beauman

21.  Forever Alexa by Cate Beauman

22.  Q&A by Vikas Swarup

23.  The Princess in the Opal Mask by Jenny Lundquist

24.  Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers

25.  Catering to Nobody by Diane Mott Davidson

What have you read this year?  Any recommendations?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Dough Ornament Craft

I found this recipe for ornaments many years ago and I love it!  It saddens me a bit that the last time  made this dough was in 2008!  Ahh!  I have got to make these every year, they are so easy and fun.

I wish I could recall exactly where I got this recipe from, but alas, I don't.  It was from some type of parenting website.

I like it, because you can make whatever shape you want by using cookie cutters and you can even dye the dough.  I made dinosaurs last time.  If you start with a great imagination, then you are off to a good start!

Christmas Dough Ornament Craft

This shiny Christmas dough ornament craft is the perfect finishing touch to decorating the tree.  It can also be altered and made into lapel pins, magnets and gift-toppers.

What you'll need:

1/2          cup salt
1             cup flour
1/2          cup water

Rolling pin
Cookie Sheet
Cookie cutters (stars, trees, etc.)
Acrylic paints (green, yellow, other colors of choice for embellishments)
Glitter glue or glitter paint

** Food coloring, if you would like to die the dough.  Add a few drops to the water before mixing it with flour and salt. You can also paint them once they have baked.  Artist's choice!**

How to make it:

1.      Preheat oven to 250ºF.

2.      Mix together salt, flour, and water until dough is formed.

3.      Knead the dough on a floured surface until the mixture is elastic and smooth.  If dough is too sticky, sprinkle with flour, continue to do so until stickiness is gone.  Do not add too much flour, this will dry out dough and will cause it to crack before you have a chance to make it.

4.      Roll out the dough to about 1/4" thick with rolling pin that has been dusted with flour.

5.      Use cookie cutters to cut out as many trees and stars (dinosaurs, whatever you like!) as you want.

6.      Use a toothpick to make a hole toward the top of the shape.  Poke the toothpick into the shape, then holding the toothpick straight up and down, make a circular motion, as if you were stirring something.  Keep circling until the hole is the size you want.

7.      Place all shapes onto an un-greased cookie sheet and place into the preheated oven.

8.      Bake for 2 hours.

9.      Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

10.    Paint the trees green and stars yellow (but I say paint them whatever color that you want!  Don't be held back from your creative genius.)

11.    Use the handle end of the paintbrush to dot ornaments by dipping into paint then dotting onto ornament.

12.    When paint is dry, use glitter glue or paint to put a sparkling cover coat on your ornaments.

13.    When dry, thread ribbon through hole and tie a knot in the back.

14.    Tie onto a package, if you would like.


-      If your toppers are large enough, you can make two hole in each so that you can thread ribbon through like a button, only showing a small amount of ribbon on the front.

-      These make adorable pins to wear to school.  Just don't make a hole.  Glue a pin to the back of the completed ornament instead.

-      Uncooked salt dough doesn't keep well, so only make enough dough for the ornaments you are going to make.  If you are only making a few toppers, halve the ingredients above.  The listed amounts will make enough ornaments for a classroom of 20.


When I was a kid, we would make these all of the time!  The recipe was given to us by my mom's best friend, Libby.  She passed away a couple of months ago and as a tribute to their 50 year long friendship, I share this recipe with you.

Cinnamon Ornaments

Makes: 12- 15 ornaments
Prep time:  30 minutes
Cook time:  2- 1/2 hours or 1 to 2 days drying time

3/4    cup applesauce

1       bottle (4.12 ounces) cinnamon

Other supplies:

Cookie cutters
Drinking straw
Colorful ribbon

1.      Preheat oven to 200ºF.  Mix applesauce and cinnamon in small bowl until a smooth ball of dough is formed. (You may need to use your hands to incorporate all of the cinnamon.)  Using about 1/4 of the dough at a time, roll dough 1/4-inch to 1.3- inch thickness between two sheets of plastic wrap.  Cut dough into desired shapes with 2-3-inch  cookie cutters.  Make a hole at top of ornament with drinking straw or skewer.  Place ornaments on baking sheet.

2.      Bake 2-1/2 hours.  Cool ornaments on wire wrack (or dry ornaments at room temperature by carefully placing them on a wire rack.  Let stand for 1 to 2 days or until dough is throughly dry, turning occasionally).

3.      Insert ribbon through holes and tie to hang.  Decorate with opaque paint markers, or paint found at regular craft stores, if desired.

**Tip:  If a different size bottle of cinnamon is used, measure 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of cinnamon.**

Book Space

I live in a small apartment.  I mean, my apartment can fit inside of the classroom, in which I teach.  No matter the size, I enjoy it and I find it cozy.  One thing that is tough about an intimate living area, is the lack of space... for things, like books!  I love to read.  I have hundreds of books, though, I am working on breaking my attachment to books I didn't particularly care for.  But, that is neither here nor there.

On Sunday, I woke up and decided that that was the day to do some apartment makeover activities.  It was the second day of Christmas break, after all.  I only have three weeks to get as much stuff as possible done.

So, I reattached the thing on the bottom of the front door, that had been partially ripped off and consequently was beginning to trap me inside.  I had to stick the tip of my foot between the door and the screen and kick the door back... every morning, in the dark, in order to get out of my house.  Score! One thing fixed!

I purchased some nice frames and a painting at Kohl's, at majorly discounted prices, for my bathroom.  And I hung them up too!  Score!  Two things!  They really spruce up my bathroom.

I hung a frame and some 'Z's above my bed.  Let's face it, when I moved into this place a year and 8 months ago, I only focused on the living room and kitchen area, as these are the only places that people would be seeing, when visiting.  Score, three things!  I was on a roll!

I plan on adding wings to the frame and spray painting the 'Z's gold.  

Now, the most amazing thing that I did on Sunday, was purchasing 4 wooden crates from Michael's, some stain and poly coating, and a brush.  I was in desperate need of some bookshelves or something of that sort to get some newly acquired books off of my living room floor.  When I was at Michael's and I saw these crates, I was struck with an idea.  I ran with it and I am extremely happy with the results.  At first, I wanted to hang them all in my room, but they stick so far out, that I was afraid I would smack my head on them.

I ended up putting two in my living room, on top of my other bookcase.  I am still trying to figure out where exactly I will place the other two.  If I do choose to hang them in my room, I think I am going to need some brackets, to help support the weight of the books, so that the crate doesn't rip out of the wall.

I am very happy with the results and I think they look as if they have been in my living room all along.

Wooden crates from Michael's, $9.99 (4 total)

I suggest getting the smaller cans of stain and poly, because I could probably make 100 more of these crates and I would still have enough stain and poly to make at least 20 more!  I got a brush (Linzer Stain and Poly) that is specifically for stain and poly.  It is amazing!

What a difference, huh?

I had never stained before, my first two crates look great, because I took my time.  The last two have a few drips here and there, but I think it adds to their charm.  I chose a matte poly, in order to keep the 'rustic' look.  I wasn't looking for a high shine manufactured look.

Here they are at home and filled with books.  I really think they look great and they were so simple!

I mean, even the dinosaur is happy to have them near!

The best thing is that they got my extra books off of the ground and made room for more, that will undoubtedly come in the near future.

If you are wanting to do this project, may I suggest that you give yourself plenty of time? Before you put the poly coating on, your stain has to sit for an hour.  Also, please have good air flow!  My apartment was not ideal for this and I was getting some serious black lung and holes in the brain.  However, I used what brain cells I had left and placed my fan in the kitchen, facing an open window and all was well.

Choose a stain that works well with your existing decor and have fun!

A simple project that delivers great results.

Merry Christmas!