Thursday, July 28, 2011

Project Runway is back!

I was REALLY annoyed at the end of Runway's last season, because I thought they picked the wrong winner, and when I posted my feelings here there were numerous responses that all agreed.

But it's a new season, and I was looking forward to finally seeing tonight's show. Happily, I wasn't disappointed. I really liked some of the designers, and I must say, I actually agreed with the judges about the worst designs (which were REALLY bad), and I loved the challenge winner's design, as well as some of the others.

If you didn't watch the show, the challenge was fun. The designers were woken up at 5am and taken for their first challenge in their night-clothes with a sheet from their beds. They had to use what they had slept in, along with the sheet, to create their runway fashion. They could use dye, and various trims, buttons, etc, and some of the designs were really interesting.

I guess this means I'm staying home on Thursday nights from now on! Are you a Project Runway fan?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Updating the blog

Boredom? Not me, EVER! Today as I waited for my hubby (who was taking longer than expected when we were supposed to be going somewhere), instead of drumming my fingers and whining, I decided "Hey! Let's use this time to mess with the blog!"
So I did...

So yes, I've been making changes to the blog. Hopefully you'll bear with me and let me know what you think. BE HONEST. It seemed to me that I have such a long blogroll, plus long lists of labels and archives, that a reader would have to scroll WAY down to see them. So I've done a few things:
  • I've moved "this is me" (info about me and my blog) to a separate page, since it took up a lot of room. I figure that if you've been reading my blog for a while, it wasn't really necessary at the top of the blog. I've also made sure that my photo, still on the main page, links to my profile.
  • Then I changed the single column on the right to 2 columns, so I can have my blogroll on one, but also the labels and archives more accessible, since I know I find these things useful when reading other blogs. I've looked at a lot of other blogs, and some people don't post the labels, but I know I use them a lot when looking for something specific. So the labels and also the archives will stay.
  • I am experimenting with the sizes of the columns, but it is a problem because I cannot seem to change the size of my dragon. Hence filling in extra space with black.
  • And finally, I'm experimenting with the ability to add pages. I thought, along with my "this is me" page, I'd also post a page about my art room. The page is now there, but honestly, it is kind of awful. Blogger is fighting me on this page and it is not at all what I intended.
Meanwhile, I realize that we art teachers are often easily distracted. I know I seem to be spending a good deal of time playing with Pinterest, and so are many of you, but I want to make my blog something you'll want to continue to read. ( I think, even though it's a whole lot of fun, that Pinterest might end up more of a passing fancy.)

I used to, every time I got a new follower, click on that person to see their profile and check out any blogs they might have, because I am interested in who is reading my nonsense. With 272 followers currently (yikes) that has gotten difficult to keep up with, and it makes me kind of sad. I like the friendships that develop with blogger colleagues, even though we may never meet face-to-face, and I don't want to lose that personal feeling with blogging.

So let me know what you think - and if there's anything I could/should do differently to keep the sense of collegiality that I so enjoy. Thanks!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

My Celestial Jacket

How I spent the heatwave: sewing! In particular, re-inventing some clothing, including several T-shirts and especially my beloved celestial jacket.

About the jacket, first. I originally made the jacket probably about 18 years ago, and the last time I wore it was around 15 years ago. But I was so attached to it, I left it hanging in my closet. But I had lost about 25 pounds (thank goodness) and it no longer fit. These photos were taken today, with my renovated jacket.

The original jacket was about mid-thigh length, with on-seam pockets. About a year ago, the parent of a student, who is a seamstress, tried to take it apart and try to make it smaller. She took massive volume out of the arms, but because of the structure (pockets and lining) could not do more. The pockets were too low (losing weight had somehow made them fall lower on my thigh) and the whole thing still looked massively huge on me.

So yesterday I took a scissor to the jacket and chopped off about 6" of length. I took out what was left of the pockets, created some new binding out of some night-sky fabric, and rebound the bottom. I'm now considering putting frog closures on the front, and while the I'm so happy to be able to wear the jacket again!

Here's what I did to the T-shirts, including the orange Matisse-quote shirt and the "Got Art" one pictured above.

Both of these shirts had been purchased at my state art teacher's conference. But they were standard T-shirt shapes and I NEVER wore either of them. You see, though I am petite, at barely 5', I have what I guess I'll call a decidedly "womanly" shape. The hips on a small-size standard T-shirt are too small for me, so I had purchased mediums. They looked ridiculous on little me. The shoulders were halfway to my elbows, the shirts hung down to mid-thigh, and the sleeves were voluminous. Ugh. They looked like nightshirts. And I don't like those ugly un-feminine T-shirt necklines.

So I cut off the sleeves, altered the sides to make it more female-shaped without being tight, cut back the shoulders and reinserted the sleeves. I also cut the sleeves shorter and and made them narrower.

I cut off and re-hemmed the bottom to a nicer length, and cut off the T-shirt neckline too. I then narrowly folded over the neckline twice, ironed it and hemmed it close to the edge, making it a little less constricting with a more feminine look.

I'm so happy to be able to wear both of these artsy T-shirts, plus the NO COMPLAINING shirt that I fixed also. This shirt also has, on the back, the Maya Angelou quote: "If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude." My students know that our #1 art room rule is NO WHINING. So they'll like seeing me wear this shirt on a blue-jean Friday.

Hopefully tomorrow will be in the 80's or even 70's and I'll do something outside. How have you been spending your heat wave?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Decisions, Decisions - Pinterest & the Sketchbook Project

?? ??

I've been debating. So many things to do. How do I pick?
So, OK, I've jumped on the Pinterest bandwagon. I'm already spending too much time pinning on my boards at Pinterest. You've probably seen Pinterest talked about in some other blogs, including posts by Erica (Art Project Girl), Mr. E, ArtfulArtsyAmy, Angie (In Art Class) and more. Sorry I'm not going to try to include all their links here.

Anyhow, I'm hooked on Pinterest but it is a time stealer, and not without problems. Have any of you other "pinners" seen this message yet? "UGH - looks like all are servers are busy. Retry after a while." I've gotten it a LOT. Annoying, frustrating! AND - I cannot figure out the following thing. I seem to be following people I've never heard of and I can't seem to get rid of, but I can't find a list of who I follow anywhere. It seems I should automatically be able to see their names without having to search for them, so I can click on them to see their boards. Hmmm. I'm so technologically confused. I also can't seem to find an all-purpose search tool, to look at random pinboards.
Plus I tried to put this button on my sidebar for a link and I just can't seem to make it work (and it won't work here either). It tells me the address is not valid.

Those of you more teach savvy than me, any advice to help me on Pinterest would be appreciated. I think it's a lot of fun and I want to get beyond the challenges.

Meanwhile, back to the Sketchbook Project. I had so much fun doing this last year, and even went to Brooklyn to visit the exhibit, and posted about it several times here here. The problem is, they received SO many sketchbooks (I think it was 10,000) that they can't be viewed very often. When people show up to visit the exhibit, unless you are looking for a specific person's book, you are given a random selection based on what has not been viewed much. With the exhibit traveling all around the country February, I think my sketchbook had a total of only 4 views, and one of them was me, visiting it! It kills me that it sits unopened on a shelf after all the TLC that I put into it. I always tell me students that art is meant to be seen, like music is meant to be heard. It is not very meaningful on the shelf.

If you participated last year, are you "in" again this year? I just can't decide. Anyhow, you can find out about the Sketchbook Project here:

Thanks for bearing with me as I rattle on...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Another blogger adventure!

This is me (on the right) and Janis from on the left.

A while back we discovered that we live maybe an hour from each other, so today we met in the middle (Saratoga) for some coffee, tea, bagels, and conversation. How about this: our birthdays (including the YEAR) are just days apart! My astrologer brother would probably say that it makes sense we both became art teachers. It always amazes me what a small world it actually is; this is the 2nd time I've had an opportunity to meet another blogger. I posted about my other blogger adventure last winter here.

Anyhow, thanks Janis for a fun morning. Let's keep in touch and hopefully we'll both be at the NYSATA conference in November. I'd love to have you at my workshop to learn how to make a trihexaflexagon!

By the way, for those of you who are newer readers, that's my sweet car we're in front of. You can read my love story for my Subaru in my blog posts here and more here.

Monday, July 18, 2011


Gertrude Stein & Alice B. Toklas! Hemingway! Picasso! Dali! F. Scott Fitzgerald & Zelda! Toulouse Lautrec! Cole Porter! And the list goes on... I took my hubby to the local "dinner and a movie" to celebrate his birthday this evening, and I just HAD to tell you all about this wonderful movie, since it was like peeking inside your art history textbook's chapter on the 1920's, and a bit of the 1890's as well, all with a fun Woody Allen spirit.. The movie is Midnight in Paris, and you absolutely MUST see it! (Maybe you already read a similar comment about the movie by Artful Artsy Amy at here.)

I smiled through the whole thing, and got excited every time I started to ID another artist. (I didn't do as well with the writers. I'm an avid reader, but these aren't the writers that have my heart.) I was sorry the credits rolled by so fast, because I was curious as to what artists I might have missed along the way. Meanwhile, it is an absolute Woody Allen film. In the spirit of his NY movies, that were all such a "love story" to a great city, he has moved his heart to Paris. I've never been to Paris, and never even had a great desire to go there, but I left the movie saying how much I'd like to go there. The movie will do that. Also, as with all of his movies, the movie has a constant backdrop of absolutely FABULOUS music.

Go see this movie! Call it educational/professional development if you need an excuse! And if possible, see it in a fun venue like we did, rather than in a typical popcorn smelling sticky floor theater.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

My hubby's heroic attempt * updated w/new photos!

Feed me, feed me!!!!!

Mama robin keeping watch, worm in mouth
Fledgling robin in the pansies

I'm a night-owl; I like to stay up LATE. So it was about 12:30am, and I had just finished my nightly bed-time cup of tea when I heard, through closed windows and doors, a lot of LOUD incessant chirping. I called to hubby, and he went out with a flashlight. In our driveway was a little part of a bird nest (like a liner made from grasses) fallen from our little tree, and 2 baby birds. Mama and papa were in the nearby trees going NUTS.

Now sometimes my hubby drives me crazy, but then, times like this remind me what a gentle soul he is. (He didn't tell me until later that earlier in the day he'd found a dead baby bird in the yard and had buried it.) Plus, dear, if you are reading this, I know I drive YOU crazy too! Anyhow, we have a lot of neighborhood cats and we were worried that these babies wouldn't survive the night.

So he decided to put the birds back in the nest, most of which was still in the tree. He went into the house for a ladder, and on his way out the door with ladder in hand, Isis (our cat) decided to bolt out the door. Not good. She's a house cat.

So armed with a flashlight, I proceeded to follow Isis all over the neighborhood. Mind you, at this time it is about 1am, and I'm in backyards all over the place, with automatic lights blinking on here and there, half expecting the police to show up. We have some difficult neighbors and I wouldn't have been surprised. After about 10 minutes of a wild goose-chase, occasionally swatting and hissing at me, she decided to come home and ran up the back stairs, and inside as soon as the door was opened. Kitty's big adventure!

Meanwhile, hubby was trying to pick up the birds with a metal spatula, but one kept escaping. Finally, we temporarily put a bowl over the bird who was running, and wearing a pair of garden gloves he put first one bird, and then runner back into the nest. Mama and papa immediately settled down and the rest of the night was quiet.

Fast forward to this morning. Mama is up on the power lines hollering again, and there's the whole nest in the driveway!
And the two babies are waddling across the driveway to the flower beds, where they each found a different "hiding" place.

We've watched as mama has dug up worms, broken them up, and delivered them to her babies. Such a good mama! Do we put them back again? (We're still worried about those neighborhood cats, especially since evidently they already killed one baby.) Hubby called the local wildlife rescue hot-line (or something like that) and they said that they are fledglings and that it is common for them to be kicked out of the nest. Hopefully, with parents watching diligently and keeping them fed, in a day or two they'll be ready to take flight.

Meanwhile, my hubby is my hero. And the birdies will have us keeping our eyes on them for sure!

Below are 2 new photos, taken this afternoon, along with the one at the top of the blog.
We've had our eyes on the birds all day. The little guys have moved around a bit, and my hubby has done a couple more "rescues" - once when one had gotten himself in the middle of the alley behind our house - YIKES - and then the other got himself into some flower stems and was jammed in a tough way to turn around. Mama and papa (I'm really not sure which is which have been around all day keeping an eye on things, and bringing food from time to time. My husband sprays the neighborhood cats with a garden hose to keep them away, but I think we're both very worried about tonight. These babes have GOT to get flying!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Lovin' my summer bugs

Dragonflies and damselflies everywhere! I adore them - they don't bite, they just flit around looking pretty and dragon-like, and sometimes stopping fleetingly to get a frustrated photographer (me) rushing for the camera. They are very tough to photo since they don't stay put. And then blogger goes and rotates some of them sideways... Anyhow, since I can't have a real live dragon, a dragonfly is a reasonable 2nd best. (The damselfly is kind of like a dragonfly but the wings go back instead of out to the sides.) You've really got to click on these photos and enlarge them to see amazing details!

I also am in awe of the amazingly gorgeous leafy sea dragon, though I've only seen them in photos and it's not likely I'll ever see one for real. So the abundant dragonflies flitting about by the lake will satisfy me. Here's a sea dragon:

And here's a bug on a water lily:

And a creepy (but cute) spider!

Oops, not a bug (below), just my silly cat. Does she think she's hiding? Yes, that is a rope you can see in the photo. She's not tangled. She is basically a house cat but goes outside merrily with a harness and rope tied to the porch. "Dope on a rope"!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Another artistic endeavor - henna!

On Friday, friend "C" and I had a "play date" with some henna, leftover from last year. I blogged about the henna experience here: and here:

The more-than-a-year-old henna didn't "take" too dark. Maybe it is expired?


Yum. Crisp fresh summer veggies in a homemade cold soup on a hot summer day.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Playing with Beads!

Here's one of my summer artistic endeavors - making jewelry (the color on this photo is really off but I can't seem to make it right - oh well). I can't pass a bead store without going in - I guess you can say I'm a bead hoarder. So my goal is to reduce my inventory (so I can buy more). My favorite place for bead shopping is midtown Manhattan. There's about three solid blocks that are filled with bead stores, one after another, and I love strolling up and down and comparing prices. If you're heading to NYC, and want to know where to find bead stores, just ask me!
I've made these 6 necklace/earring sets since vacation began. But why oh why won't this photo enter without rotating sideways? Blogger, I love you, but you're driving me CRAZY! (That's the way I feel about my husband some days too - but honey, if you read this, don't feel bad because I know I drive you crazy too! And you put up with assorted seed beads stuck in the living room carpeting as well as the smell of gesso permeating the house from the painting I'm about to begin.) Anyhow it's not a great quality photo, but the color is more accurate on the turquoise & black necklace than in the first image.

By the way - for a change of pace, I've been wasting time this evening changing the look of my blog. I'm not sure but I'll leave it for now. What do you think?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Did I ever show you how pretty my school is?

I was just cleaning my memory card and found these photos on it, that I shot leaving school in the late afternoon of the last day, long after the buses had left honking with waving kids hanging out the window.

We are very lucky to have Charlie tending our grounds. Isn't he a marvel?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sunday Comic #15

Four minutes left to Sunday, so I thought I'd post a Sunday comic since it's been a while.

It doesn't get any better than this -

Kayaking before breakfast on a sunny calm Adirondack morning,

I went in search of spider webs and turtles and found both.

(There's lots of photo imperfections. I'm still editing, and sometimes getting perfect focus is tough, especially when shooting pics with an inexpensive camera from a moving kayak without losing the paddle, and trying to get close enough to the subject without disrupting. I took some really cool dragonfly macro pics too but they keep showing up sideways. I'll try again some other time.