Sunday, January 25, 2015


I love sitting at my desk. It feels good to wake up when it is still dark out, and admire my work space all lit up. It is kind of like how you get mesmerized by a campfire or lit Christmas tree.

However, a lot of the time,  there is a pile of stuff left there from my last project.  Instead of getting inspired to do art work, the pile inspires me to organize.

This morning, after seeing my hole punches all scattered on the desk, I thought up a better way to organize my them. So, great! Accomplishment. But no art work done. 

When I am in the flow, I don't see the chaos. But afterwards, it keeps me from moving on to the next project. It feels like procrastination to organize my space when I want to work, but I can't move on until it is done. I wish I knew how you folks who are always tidy and organized, do it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Getting to Work....Valentines and Churches

Snipping brings me pleasure and peace.

These are 3D mobile paper cuttings.  I fold paper; sketch symmetrical designs; cut with scissors or X-acto knives and paper punches; then stitch them together with monofilament.

Onion Dome Churches

I cut onion domed churches as my Christmas cards one year, then I decided to sell them on Etsy. They were really popular. Long afterwards, when I had stuck the last remaining ones in a file, friends would request them to buy as gifts.

I haven't had anything in my Etsy shop in a while, so I decided to cut some churches and Valentines to go in. Both are such pleasures to spend my time making.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Key & Peele - Substitute Teacher

My apologies.  There are some very naughty words in this video.  However, I am compelled to watch it whenever I come across it.  It makes me giggle til I am almost in tears.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Chicken Stock Makin' Kind if Day

It is 18 degrees out. Our plans to hike in Shenandoah have been cancelled because the park is closed in the section nearest us. So, it seems like a good day to putter around the house.

I'll let the Costco chicken carcass simmer into a stock and make the house smell all homey. I will listen to Shannon Cason's Homemade Stories podcasts again and eventually find my way down to Snippyville. Sounds like a good way to spend a day.

****  It's now 6:00 and we're having dinner.  I turned that stock into chicken noodle soup.  Here's the recipe I used.  Chef John's Chicken Noodle Soup  Yummy!!!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Gingerbread Man Fun

So much of my holiday joy in the past, has come from being around excited little kids.  Since I am retired, and interact with them so seldom, I have had to seek out experiences with kids.  Around Thanksgiving, I went to see my grand nephew in a kindergarten play.  It was super sweet and I loved being in the presence of so much excitement.

I subbed for a friend and did lessons on Nutcrackers.  I brought in my nutcrackers.  We listened to music from the Nutcracker.  We watched videos about nutcrackers.  The kids drew nutcrackers.  That all got enthusiastic responses.

Still seeking out some Christmas joy, I invited myself to a friend's kindergarten class to decorate gingerbread men with them.  My friend was happy to oblige.  We decided that the best day to do this was the last day before winter break.

We finally came up with this plan.  I would rush into the classroom, wearing oven mitts and an apron, and I would declare that I was baking gingerbread men at home.  Supposedly, when I opened the oven, they pushed their way out and ran out the door.  They left me a clue that led me to their school. I asked them if they had seen the cookie people and they had not.  When I read another clue, it led us to another place in the building.  

There were probably 7 clues in all.  The kids got very excited figuring out each one.

Finally, they made their way back to the classroom and that is where the cookies all were.

I overdid the candy and frosting purchases, but I figured it was better to have too much than too little.  

Their teacher and I decided that the kids would work in groups of two.  The cookies had been made in a giant Wilton cookie pan, which was way too much for the kids to eat in one sitting.  So we decided that the cookies would be given to various helper people in the school.

The teacher purchased more gingerbread men at Costco for the kids to decorate and eat.  

Here are some of the ideas I want to remember for the next time I do this.

Sprinkles can be made by adding a few drops of food coloring to sugar.  I mixed them in ziplock baggies and let the bags sit open for a day to dry.  The sprinkles were put in spice jars with holes in the lids.

The Dollar Tree was a treasure trove for small candies and supplies.

Frosting was made with vanilla, shortening, and confectioner's sugar.  I put them in large yogurt containers. I think that I could have used the frosting from the Dollar Tree and not spent any more money than I did making it on my own.

The kids spread the frosting with plastic knives, also from the Dollar Tree.

I bought two part gift boxes and the kids decorated the gingerbread men in a half.  This gave a little sturdiness to the cookie when it was carried and it kept all the candies contained inside.

The candies were put in paper plates for the kids to use.

As some kids finished up, we started showing Gingerbread Man videos from YouTube.

I had a wonderful day with the kids, and they seemed to have fun as well.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

I am a Paper Cutter

When people ask me in which art medium I prefer, I say rather apologetically, "paper cutting."  My impression is that they think of ladies snipping tulips and birds in the 80's as a craft activity.  Certainly, I do some craftsy paper cutting, but not all of my work is that.  I feel, somehow, that if I could answer "painting" or "sculpture" people would have a greater frame of reference and respect.  I have totally forgotten that one of the greats was a paper cutter.  How on earth do I not think immediately of Henri Matisse?

Friday, December 5, 2014

Christmas Cards for 2014

You would think that since I retired six months ago, my Christmas cards would have been snipped ages ago.  Not so.  I've busied myself with everything but snipping.  Once I got down to crunch time though, I enjoyed the task.  This year's batch are pleasing to me but they are more simple than those done in years past. Here are a few of them.






Friday, November 21, 2014

Godzilla Needs Warm Butter Too

I enjoy window shopping on eBay.  Often I find myself looking for deals on cast iron cookware.  This morning I came across a listing today for a Descoware butter warmer.  The photo for this listing has to be the best eBay photo I have ever seen.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Be Kind to Your Art Sub

What a different experience it is between teaching in my own classroom and substitute teaching in someone else's.  I am venturing out into the world of substitute teaching these days and am getting a new perspective into the world of subbing.

I have seen rich and full lessons left for subs and I have seen overly simplistic ones. The intent of giving a sub a super simple lesson plan is kind.  Teachers don't want to give someone a plan that is beyond the sub's capabilities to teach.  However, when I look at some of the lessons I have been left, I know that some are wildly inadequate.  Recently, I was given a page out of School Arts magazine about "expressive line."  It was a lovely idea, and I have incorporated it into lessons in my own classroom.  However, as a stand alone lesson, it was not appropriate for an hour long lesson for 6, 7 and 8 year olds.  If I had taught that lesson, I can imagine that even the most engaged kids would have lasted 15 minutes or so.  I find it hard to picture the more fidgety kids doing more than a line or two.

What will happen in your class when your students have 45 minutes...or 30....or even 15 minutes left after a lesson? When you set up sub plans, ask yourself if you would teach that same lesson.  Ask yourself how long your students would actually be engaged in that activity and what will happen with the extra time left over.  Is it really an age appropriate lesson? Leave books and activities for the students to use when they are finished with their work.  Leave a dvd player and art videos.  Leave books for the sub to read aloud.  Prepare for that unencumbered time when problems are prone to occur.

Instead of rushing around at the last minute, why not work now to set up a folder of good lessons or a "sub tub"?  Get yourself prepared for that emergency sick day.  It doesn't have to take hours and hours to get this together.  Go over to my art sub lessons blog and find links to ideas other people have already used.  There are tons of Pinterest boards linking to sub plans.  If you want fully formed, age appropriate art sub lessons, check out my shop at TeachersPayTeachers.

Be kind to your kids and your subs.  Please plan well for them.