Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Inspire me... Tina St. Claire (tfail)

I wrote about how much I love Tina's work in this post about 4 years ago. Heartbreakingly, Tina passed away in March of last year. She was a multi-faceted artist with many different skills and ideas under her belt, even at such a young age, and I think we still have so much more we can learn from this talented individual. That's why I'm asking her to inspire me again.
Tina's fiance has started an IndieGoGo campaign for a documentary about Tina's life and work. This is an amazing opportunity to not only preserve the work of such a unique artist, but also to ensure that her voice will live on and maybe even thrive in the years ahead. I'm including a link and asking that if you have any interest in the beautiful work of this extremely talented women that you take the time to look at the donation tiers and see if there is any rewards you would be interested in.

Links for Tina St. Claire:

Monday, March 6, 2017

Sketchy Outfits thirty-three, thirty-four, and thirty-five

Outfit 1:
Striped Shirt // Long Green Vest // Jeans // Striped Shoes

Outfit 2:
Black Biker Jacket // Lace Dress // Wet Look Black Leggings // Black Boots

Outfit 3:
Plaid Vest // Black Thermal // Jeans // Black Boots

Monday, February 13, 2017

An Unfortunate Valentine's Day Party

The thing with Valentine's parties and young adults is that more often than not they're single, and the whole thing actually just bums them out. Add that to the overall cringe-y nature of Valentine's Day on a whole, and you've almost created the most anti-teenager holiday ever. I mean, they don't even get out of school for it! What a waste of a perfectly good holiday.

We decided to embrace the overall terribleness of Valentine's Day this year, and threw an "Unfortunate Valentine's Day Party."

To get the party started with a "bang" (or more of a foamy overflow) we played with chemicals and candy hearts. Our initial goal was to see which one would dissolve the fastest.

When that turned out to be a slow and boring process (we should say "watching a candy heart dissolve" instead of "watching paint dry") we decided to mix stuff up and see which had the best reactions. A bit off topic, but always worth it.

When we were satisfied with our experiments we turned our attention to the cringe-iest of all of the cringe-y Valentine's traditions: the Valentine's card. We told them this was their chance to use their best/worst pick up lines, and as much feathers, pom poms, glue and stickers as they could. The one that made us groan the most would be the winner. They all kind of came out looking like something a mom would hang on her fridge, which makes it all the more awesome. We weren't going for professional work here, we were going for speed and tackiness. It was great to see them try to outdo each other, and  I learned a few new pick up lines to try out on my husband.

After we'd had enough of the cheesiness it was game time! We made up this small game that I've lovingly refered to as "CrackShip" in my head. You basically draw two cards from the deck then defend why you think they'd make a good couple. For example: Dracula and Bella Swan would work because she totally had a thing for old vampires. Ironman and Mary Poppins could work because he kinda needs someone to mother him. To keep it library themed I used all book characters (don't forget comic books). I'd also encourage the kids to use humor as part of their arguments. A few laughs go a long way!
If you are re-creating this game, go into with the mind set of the craziest couples that could be made. I personally thought Amelia Bedilia and Captain Underpants would have made a great pair!

Another game we had on standby but didn't have time to use was Celebrity: Couple Edition. We picked out a few famous book couples (Romeo/Juliet, Clary/Jace, Agustus/Hazel, etc.) and wrote them on separate pieces of paper. You pick a couple, tape it to the backs of two participants, and then they have to as yes/no questions to figure out who they are and find their partners. The kids have always loved celebrity, so I'm sure this game would have been a hit, too, if we had had the time!

For snacks we poured red punch into a glass that had food coloring in the bottom, which usually turned the drink into some gross brown color. Perfectly unfortunate, we thought. We also had heart cookies, but told the participants to break them before they ate them. I'm pretty sure they worked out some of their own broken heart aggression on those cookies... but a broken cookie is still good!

All in all, our Valentines Party turned out to be a success. It was nice to give the kids a chance to make fun of something that usually is taken so seriously.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Inspire me... Zim & Zou

Sometimes I look at art and say "wow, that is truly amazing." Then there are the times when I look at art and think "wow, they reached inside my brain and pulled out my dreams and have made the impossible a reality." The work of Zim & Zou does just that.

The bold fun colors coupled with an insane attention to precise and geometrical detail leaves me with the feeling that a robot that just really loves raves is the real face behind these collections. There's something satisfying in straight lines and perfect rectangles, but their more organic-inspired work is just as entrancing. Whether working in paper or fabric, this team's construction is flawless. I can't imagine the number of hours that goes into each single piece, let alone a whole collection. Each detail is another layer of paper, built up to create the textures and patterns that are so enticing. I could spend hours staring at these pieces and still miss some details.

If you'd like to see more of Zim & Zou's work:

Friday, November 18, 2016

Monster Book Snacks


I'm so excited about the upcoming movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I've professed my love for Harry Potter on this blog before... many times... so to have more fiction set in this world is a dream come true. 

To celebrate, I thought I'd share one of our favorite Harry Potter themed snacks to make with kids: the Monster Book of Monsters. 

This recipe is adapted from Rosanna Pansino's Textbook S'mores, which you can see in her video here, or read about in her book Nerdy Nummies. And, of course, the Monster Book of Monsters is from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling.

Graham Crackers
Chocolate Icing
Small Marshmallows

1: Crack your crackers! You'll need to break 1 whole one in half, then ice one side.
2: Place the marshmallows onto your iced graham cracker. Make sure at least one side is even, because these will be your teeth!
3: Ice the other half of your graham cracker, and place it on top of the marshmallows to make a delicious sandwich. Or, in this case, a book!
4: Break your second cracker in half, and then in half again. Ice one side of 1/4th graham cracker with a LOT of icing. Just like when you build a gingerbread house, the icing is your glue.
5: Place the 1/4th cracker on the side of your "book." Hint: pick the side you like the least!
6: Let everything sit and harden for a little bit. This is the perfect time to pick out your M&Ms! They will be your eyes, so pick whatever color and amount you want.
7: Time to ice your book! Once you've covered the top and the graham cracker side, dab at it with your knife. This will give you a great fuzzy texture. Bonus: this method makes hiding mistakes very easy.
8: While your icing is still wet, take the M&Ms you picked in step 6, and place them on top in any pattern you want. 
9: Enjoy, but watch out, it might bite!

We have used this snack multiple times at work, with all ages of kids, and it's always been a hit. It's messy, but isn't that the best kind of fun?

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Honorable Mentions - Things to do in England


Last year my sister was fortunate enough to spend a semester studying abroad in Bath, England. While she was there my husband and I were lucky enough to visit (which you can read about here, here, and here), but she had the opportunity to see SO much more. She also happens to be great with words, so I have asked her to put together a post for my blog. 

The time that I spent in England seems like a dream when I look back on it. It has that slippery feeling to it that make you wonder if it actually happened or if it was a creation of your own mind. I think that sometimes my brain has difficulty believing that some of the fantastic and foreign pieces of England were images that I saw with my own eyes. My semester in England was an event I had been anticipating for years, and it became a dynamic sliver of my life.

Some of the most exciting things I did in England of course involved seeing England, traveling to uncharted territories. But today instead of talking about the grand prize winners I am going to talk about the honorable mentions because they aren’t given enough attention when I talk about my time in England. 

One of the very first trips my program took in England was to a little place called Cotswold. The trip to this lovely little place was one of my worst traveling experiences only trumped by my night flight to England on which sleep was unattainable. We road on a bus through the winding country roads and my stomach was rolling. I spent most of the ride concentrating on not throwing up on the floor. When we finally stopped I just wanted off the bus, so I sat down on a bench, had an embarrassing crying session in front of one of the program leaders, and was thankful for my considerate housemates who were nice enough to stay by me while my stomach settled.

This horrible bought of car sickness prevented me from bringing anything off the bus which was a fact that I mourned when we arrived to the Cotswold tower. I can’t remember the history of the tower, but I believe it was built by a wealthy man in order to view his land. In truth the history of in wasn’t what interested me. It was the aesthetic of the place. It was a lone tower on a hill that could have housed Rapunzel. I would gladly have lived it the tower if I had the opportunity. The view from the top was amazing you could see for miles, and it had the lovely patch work fields that I find so charming. The tower felt like you were in the Grimm fairytales or Legends of King Arthur. It felt like magic, ancient and powerful. It was a place that could tell a story and stories are my favorite kind of magic.

If stories are magic then I found a magician in an old manor house. The house was passed down through the family and the old man who owned it seemed to know every story that it held telling each of them remarkably. I don’t remember many details of the stories, but I remember being enthralled by the way he spoke. He knew which words to speak and which tone to use to get the audience’s attention. I made sure to sit by him when we had tea, just so I could keep listening to him. Before we left I made sure to tell him what a lovely story teller he was. He asked me to kiss him on the cheek which was one of the more awkward things that I have done, but his stories were worth a little awkwardness.

The third and last adventure I am going to talk about is my class trip back to Oxford. I say back because one of the first trips we took in England was to Oxford. Going back was intriguing in and of itself because I knew where we were as we went through the city. I recognized a foreign city in a foreign country, and that still amazes me even now when I left the country months ago.

The Story Museum was a someplace that I had not seen yet. The Story Museum was just as it sounds. It was filled with rooms that had different themes to them and in these rooms they had pictures of authors dressed up as their favorite characters from literature. Every part of the place had something to do with books and words making it into a librarians dream. 

My three favorite parts, though everything was amazing, were the story machine, the children’s bedroom, and the wardrobe room. The story machine was in a room filled with costumes and had a red carpet leading up to a throne. If you approached the throne holding a story made in the story area next to the costumes trumpets would sound and a voice would read the story to you. The story machine itself was a contraption made of random odds and ends, and resting on this contraption is a story of an author who had lost the skills to write. So this author invented this machine that runs on children’s imagination and wrote the stories for him.

The next room was the children’s bedroom. It had multicolored canopies hanging from the ceiling and children’s books on shelfs and best of all in the middle of the room was a gigantic patchwork quilt covered bed. It was an awesome place for bed time stories with dim lighting and some nighties to wear hanging on the walls.

The wardrobe room was one of those amazing places in the world that actually feels like magic. The entrance is a wardrobe filled with fur coats and as you step through it you find your feet landing on powdery snow. When you look up trees with twinkling light surround you and not too far away a sleigh is settled in the snow next to a glowing lamp post. After you’ve noticed all of these details you find that there is a chill in the air and you know that you have stepped into Narnia.

The Story Museum was a place made by people who love literature and you could tell in the small details like the giant playing cards stacked next to the stair case and the portrait of a wizard down an ivy covered castle hallway. It didn’t have as many rooms as it needed, but it was still in progress when we visited, so there is sure to be more to come. Soon the Story Museum could be on par with the Magic House or the City Museum.

My time in England was full of adventures and experiences that I never would have had if I had stayed in the United States, and I am so thankful to have gone. I grew as a person so much that semester and I feel that that is something we forget that we need to do. So go take an adventure and learn something new. Experience life because why not. It’s there and you don’t need dragons and knights to have an adventure.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

De-Stressing DIY - Coloring Sheet Printables

Today is a stressful day. Not just for those in the US, but for people around the world. So tonight, as you watch then numbers pour in from all over the country, try coloring a few of these sheets. Maybe it'll help to keep your mind relaxed. Or maybe trying to stay in the lines will infuriate you, distracting from the worry. I don't know if it will work, but it's worth a try.

Download the Floral Coloring Sheet

Download the Art Deco Coloring Sheet

Download the Swirls Coloring Sheet
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