Visual Journal Page 15: I Hate Testing

Visual Journal Page 15-Testing

Four years ago I made the decision to switch from public education to private. It was something I considered for a couple of years before making the move, and it was a difficult decision. I loved my eclectic public school kiddos and I felt like I was providing a much needed service to them. In a school day jam packed with academic after academic, with little breaks, and so much emphasis on testing, by the time they came to my class they needed something different.

In art classes students have the chance to breath. Instead of memorizing facts and how to better take a test, they learn how to express themselves, think critically, and communicate visually. This creative breathing space is a necessary part of a well balanced student’s day, and yet the arts continue to lose funding and standardized testing continues to hold ground.

This isn’t the first blog post that I have written against standardized testing, but it just might be the last. After three years of spending my planning period prepping to proctor tests I didn’t believe in, I made the move to private school. Although I still believe in the potential of our public education system, they aren’t there yet. Because private schools don’t have to fulfill the same requirements of public schools, they are free to put emphasis on the individual students rather than a test score. I wasn’t willing to wait out the public schools, so I abandoned ship.

This visual journal page represents my last day of proctoring a standardized test. Sitting in an auditorium full of students, watching them take a test that doesn’t test their knowledge, just their ability to beat a test, I broke proctoring rule #1. Rather than sit there and stare at the kids, watching their every move, on the lookout for wandering eyes, I doodled. It was my tiny rebellion, my last stand against standardized testing.

I love private school education. I love that the students are people, not numbers. They represent more than school funding, they represent the future generation, the next leaders, teachers, and parents. We need confident, well rounded adults to fill those roles and I am confident the students in my classroom are getting what they need because of the freedom of the private education sector.

SUPPLIES

  • Visual journal
  • Rubber cement
  • Scissors
  • Doodles
  • Bleeding tissue paper
  • Old book pages
  • Sharpie

HOW TO

To create this visual journal page I cut up the doodles I created during my final day of standardized testing. After cutting them up I began playing around with a layout. I decided they needed a little something to make them pop, so I glued them down on old book pages, then tore them out, leaving an edge of yellowed paper.

Once again I began playing around with the layout, but I still wasn’t satisfied, it looked too bland. I began gluing down strips of bleeding tissue paper to add color and once again laid out my doodles. I decided to pull the drawing of the auditorium chair to the right page and emphasize it with a square of bleeding tissue paper to create a focal point. I then layered the remaining doodles on the left page, overlapping to the right.

To balance the chair drawing on the right side page, I added the text “i hate” with the yellowed book page and pink bleeding tissue paper behind it to tie to the look of the chair. I then wrote “testing” around the chair doodle to further emphasis it.

CHALLENGE

Create a visual journal page about your educational experience. Good, bad, or ugly, whatever you think of first when you reflect on school.

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Christmas Craft: Baby’s First Ornament

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November 12th, 2015 my sweet baby boy was born. Between the visitors, nurses, doctors, and mentally processing my new baby and title as mom, I barely remember our hospital stay. I do remember the excitement of packing up our things, trying to figure out how to put Cooper in his carseat the first time, and the mounting anxiety as we got closer to home. I walked in the door, sat down, looked at Nick and my creation, and felt terrified. We had a tiny human to look after.

Four and a half weeks later I still feel moments of terror thinking about the responsibility we took on. However, the fear is now mixed in with laughter, excitement for each new day and new thing he does, and unconditional love for this little man.

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Once things began settling down Nick and I realized Christmas was just around the corner. Coop’s first big outing was to our local Lowe’s to pick out our Christmas tree. The next few days were spent unpacking Christmas boxes and transforming our house into our own Christmas wonderland.

As I set out the stockings I came to the sudden realization that this was Cooper’s first Christmas and he needed Christmas things. He needed presents, a stocking, and of course, baby’s first ornament. I immediately went to my favorite shopping website, Etsy, to see what I could find.

After much research I fell in love with a polar bear stocking, handmade in Ireland, from Santa’s Sock Central. Despite being December already, the stocking was shipped out quickly and arrived in plenty of time. My first item was checked off the list.

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Next, I began the hunt for the perfect ornament. I searched through page after page on Etsy and found nothing that peaked my interest. I felt the majority of the ornaments aired on the side of cheesy. I wanted something sentimental, traditional, and interesting. I wanted an ornament Cooper would gladly take and put on his own tree one day.

After coming up empty handed I decided it was time for another craft project. I would find a way to personalize an ornament for him. I ended up finding a beautiful hand blown glass ornament from Grow Gallery, and knew it would make the perfect base. I decided to use glass paint to put Cooper’s handprint and his birth date on the ornament. It would be quick, easy, and exactly what I was looking for.

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To personalize the ornament all I needed was the ornament, glass paint (non-toxic), a paint brush, and paper towels for clean up.

We waited until Cooper was good and tired until Nick and I attempted the first hand print. We quickly painted his hand and tried to immediately press it to the ornament. However, as soon as the paint hit his hand, his little fingers curl into a fist that was difficult to uncurl. By the time we had his hand flat the paint was smeared on everything. By the time his hand made contact with the ornament half the paint had dried. It was a complete failure.

Three attempts later I decided the hand was too much, a footprint would have to do. Once again I waited until he was fast asleep and carefully pulled his foot from his onsie footie.

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At every stretch, groan, and deep breath I froze for a moment, hoping he wouldn’t wake up. Next, I applied the paint, and held my breath as I waited for him to wake from his slumber.

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Surprisingly, he stayed fast asleep through the foot painting, and didn’t wake up until his foot made contact with the ornament. The first try I got a clean print that only needed light cleaning up around the edges. I used a thinner paintbrush to add his birth date under this heel.

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After air drying for four days I baked the ornament in the oven for 20 minutes at 325 degrees to set the paint. I love the end product and how personal it is. Once I gave up on the hand print and opted for the “mistletoes” print, the printing process only took a few minutes from start to finish.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help me spread the word about my arts and crafts by sharing with others. I couldn’t do it without you! Merry Christmas, happy holidays!


 

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Craft Project: Christmas Ornament Wreath

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The DIY Christmas ornament wreath is a project I have seen circulating crafting websites for many years. While this isn’t a new or innovative craft I loved the look, wanted to make my own, and share my experience with you. This wreath was made in preparation for Christmas 2014, and this year I rounded out the look of the exterior of my house with matching twig and ornament wreaths for my windows. Check out the pictures of that finished product below!

When I say Christmas is my favorite time of year, I mean Christmas is my favorite time of year. My mood begins a slow rise as Halloween approaches, it marks the beginning of the holiday season. I get another boost as Thanksgiving reaches the horizon, knowing Christmas is right around the corner. While I am a Christmas enthusiast, I am also a strict seasonal rule follower. No Christmas decor should appear until the day after Thanksgiving. This means when the time finally comes to go Christmas tree shopping and dust off my many boxes of nutcrackers, I need to make the most of it for the short stretch between turkeys and santas.

Because Christmas only lasts a month (or longer depending how long it takes me to de-decorate post Christmas) that month is jam packed with Christmas music, egg nog, shopping, wrapping paper, and holiday decor. It is very typical for my holiday season to also be filled with holiday crafts. I love making gifts for others and revamping my holiday decor. Last year I decided to finally take the plunge and create my own ornament wreath. Check out supplies, instructions, and tips below!

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This wreath appealed to me because it requires few supplies, the supplies are cheap, and the end product is beautiful. All you need to get start is:

  • Hot glue gun
  • Wire hanger
  • Round ornaments
  • Ribbon (optional)

I found the wire hanger in my closet and I purchased the ornaments and ribbon at Hobby Lobby during one of their 50% off sales. I loved the color and textures of the ornaments and they were an amazing price. However, the price did reflect the quality of the ornaments, and the tops kept falling off the ornaments as I strung them onto the hanger. Once I completed my wreath I spent the season collecting and reattaching ornaments that kept falling off. As a tip I would add a dab of hot glue to the top of every ornament (where the gold cap and hanger attaches to the base) to make sure they won’t pop apart.

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To get started, reshape your wire hanger into a circle. While reforming the hanger, leave the top intact, it makes it easier to shape while both sides are still connected. Once you are satisfied with your shape, unwrap the hook at the top to open up the circle.

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String your first few ornaments onto the hanger. Since my ornaments were all red, I didn’t worry about creating a specific pattern. If you have a variety of colors, pay attention to the pattern you are creating as you add ornaments. Make sure your colors are balanced.

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Push the ornaments all the way to the other side of the circle, until you hit the unwrapped “hook” of the hanger. Glue the first couple ornaments to the hanger to prevent them from sliding off the hanger as you add more.

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Continue to add ornaments until your hanger is filled up. Push and fit them together, make sure there isn’t much space between them.

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Once all the ornaments are added, rewrap the top of the hanger to create the hook. This can be used to hang the wreath or you can add ribbon. I used a wide, burlap style ribbon to hang my wreath. I wrapped it around the top, and hot glued it to the hanger hook for additional support.

I love the look of this festive wreath. It’s bold, modern, and can my seen on my door from down the street.

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This year, I decided to make a new set of wreaths for my windows to match the ornament wreath I made last season. I once again returned to Hobby Lobby during a 50% sale to collect my supplies.

  • Wreath base
  • Mini round ornaments
  • Neutral floral accents
  • Red berry floral accents
  • Ribbon
  • Hot glue gun

I was ecstatic when I found mini versions of the round ornaments I used for the original wreath. They were the perfect way to visually tie the wreaths together.

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This wreath was a piece of cake to make. All I did was hot glue three mini ornaments to the front, then I intertwined the neutral floral accents and red berry accents into the wreath, no glue needed, and I was done! I am a brand new Mom with a brand new four week old at home with me, and I was able to put together four wreaths during his nap.

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I placed the ornaments and floral accents off center and added the same burlap ribbon I used for the ornament wreath to hang it. After adding the ribbon I realized I still needed a wreath hanger to hang them on my windows, but I was still able to use the ribbon in conjunction with the hanger.

Thanks for checking out my DIY holiday wreaths! Although Christmas is quickly approaching you still have time to put together your own wreaths before Christmas arrives. Help me spread the word about my craft projects by sharing with others on your social network of choice. Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and thanks for stopping by!


 

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Craft Projects: Creating Cooper’s Nursery

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Nick and I have been waiting a long time to meet our first baby, Cooper James Panetta. Since March, we have patiently gone through each day, week, and month, counting down the days, checking our weekly updates, visiting the doctor, picking up baby necessities, and checking off our to do list. Now, finally, tomorrow is the day we get to meet our sweet little boy.

The process of expanding our family took longer than expected and we hit more road blocks than expected. When the morning finally came when I saw two pink lines after much waiting, I was thrilled. However, similar to our journey leading up to this pregnancy, not everything goes according to plan. I have had some hard lessons in learning to let go and not get so caught up in “the plan.” I think it was meant to be this way to prepare me for the chaos of motherhood.

A few weeks ago we found out Cooper had a different plan for how he wanted to make his entrance into this world. He decided he liked his head resting in my rib cage, and he wanted to be breech. Despite multiple check ups and an attempt to manually flip him, he very adamantly decided to stay put. Because of this, we are scheduled for a c-section tomorrow morning, at 8:30 am. Tomorrow I become a mother and my life changes for ever, for what I know will be the best.

A natural part of planning for a baby is the nesting process, preparing the nursery. As an artist and lover of all things interior decorating, I was almost more excited about this than the baby in the beginning. After all, baby was going to take 9 months of cooking to get ready, I could start the nursery immediately. Last weekend the last item went into place, and his bedroom is complete. Now all we need is a baby.

The EntrywayHis room is located on the first floor of our house. I love that the first thing I see when I open his door is his crib. I can’t wait to go in, in the morning and see his sweet face greeting me.

Lucky for me I married a very crafty man, and he made the wood and metal sign with Cooper’s name on it. He salvaged wood from a home renovation down the street, a historic 1800’s home in East Lake, Atlanta, GA. It’s full of holes and character, exactly what I wanted to use for the base of the piece. We added some stain and paint, sanded it down, and finished it off with metal letters I ordered from Monson Metal Co. on Etsy. This piece was one of the first projects for the room, and the perfect decor to go above his crib.

I painted the room with a light, turquoise blue color, and a gray accent wall. The accent wall was a piece of cake to complete, even though it looks like a complicated process. I first painted all four walls turquoise, then taped off the thin stripe pattern using painter’s tape. After the tape pattern was complete and I made sure it was well stuck to the wall, I painted a layer of gray on top. Once the paint dried, I pulled the tape off, and touched up any rough edges.

The Room

I found the rug for a steal at overstock.com. I knew I wanted a large area rug to keep my feet warm for those late night feedings and for a soft surface for Cooper to sit, lay, play, and crawl on. The darker color will allow the inevitable stains to blend in and the light color pattern gives it nice contrast.

The Nursery

The crib and glider were purchased at Buy Buy Baby, the side table from Target, and the desk was a Craigslist find from college that I was able to repurpose in the room as a changing table.

Storage Unit

After months of searching for the perfect size storage unit to go under the changing table, I once again turned to my handy hub. I purchased 7 baskets at 50% off from Hobby Lobby and he built the unit around them. In a small room, with a small closet, and no space for a dresser, we had to get creative with our storage. This unit now holds Coopers diapers, swaddle blankets, socks, mittens, hats, toys, baby care, and breastfeeding supplies. I finished off the sides of the unit by adding pieces of the fabric used in his bedding.

The Details

In addition to my handy hub, I also have a very artistic and crafty mom. She volunteered to make all of Cooper’s bedding and we found beautiful geometric fabric at spoonflower.com. I first fell in love the with triangle pattern, I loved the blues, greens, and grays. This fabric set the tone and color palette for the entire room. After settling on the triangles, I found a beautiful gray weather vane pattern for the bedskirt. Although the bumpers will have to be removed when Cooper first comes home, I can’t wait to add them back in, in a few months

Etsy was my go to place when the glider finally arrived and I realized I needed throw pillows. My love of all things Harry Potter finally found it’s place in a “I solemnly swear I am up to no good” pillow from Ander’s Attic. Shortly after placing the order for the first pillow I found the “Boy: a noise with first on it,” pillow, and had to have it. It arrived quickly after I placed my order with HeSheChic, and I was able to customize the color of the ink and size of the pillow.

Wall Hangings

The walls are filled with decor made by Nick, Dekanimal (from Etsy), and me. The Cooper sign is exactly what I envisioned for the space and I love the modern, geometric animal prints contrasting the antique Cooper sign style on the opposite wall. My encaustic clouds piece hangs next to the glider and the my encaustic alphabet hangs on the wall next to the door.

Playthings

Since Nick and I first found out we were pregnant in early spring, we have been collecting items for little man. Plush sheep were discovered by Nick on the app “Geek.” Handmade creatures were found in a tiny shop in downtown Asheville, and books have made their way from each of our childhoods to the bedside table.

New books, toys, clothes, and everything we need have slowly filled the closet, storage unit, side table, and changing table. Nick and I are truly blessed to have such amazing family, friends, and coworkers. Thanks to their help we are set and ready for Cooper to come home.

maternityCooper’s first pictures will find their way to a post soon. Until then, bear with me while I take a short hiatus from blogging and focus on rearing my first born. Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Get updates straight to your inbox by subscribing below and please share with others! Thanks for stopping by.


 

The Details

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2015 Marist Holiday Traditions

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After a very successful year last year, I decided to once again participate in the annual Marist School Holiday Traditions art festival. Don’t miss this amazing event and opportunity to start your holiday shopping. The festival is opening this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Marist’s campus: 3790 Ashford-Dunwoody Road, Atlanta, GA 30319. There is a $3.oo admission fee, but it is will worth the cost!

I love this event not only because of the sheer size of it, but also because of the range of items they have available. Last year I shared an area with a few jewelry artists, a ceramist, glass blower, candle maker, baker, as well as the illustrator of the very famous book and holiday tradition: The Elf on the Shelf. I packed up Saturday afternoon with a lot less artwork, a little extra money in my pockets, and an assortment of purchases I couldn’t help but make as I hung out with these fellow artists for the day.
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For this festival I will have my standard items, encaustic letter paintings, 6″x6″ silhouette paintings, and letter prints. In addition, I will also have some new encaustic collages, carvings, and other mixed media items. Items range in price from $10.00 to $850.o0. My set up will look much the same as it did last year (pictured below) but with some of my latest creations on display. Check out my Facebook page here for more updates with pictures on what I will have available.


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Find out more information about this annual event on their website here. I hope to see you this weekend! Thanks for stopping by.


 

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