Sunday, December 30, 2012

What I Wore #48/Smoky Mountain Christmas

Christmas in the Smokies: I managed to wear this almost everyday while on our vacation in the Smokey Mountains. Not my best look, but fishnets and heels just weren't gonna cut it on these trails. backpack: borrowed from a friend; jacket(s): I'm wearing two with two more shirts underneath. Mountain Hardware; scarf: Urban Outfitters; hat and fleece headband: courtesy of hub's work, Meinl; cargo pants and long johns: army surplus; sneakers: New Balance
Well, happy post-Christmas/pre-New Years Eve to you! I come to you completely overdressed in layers of clothing and under dressed in overall look. When hubs and I decided to spend Christmas in the Smoky Mountains, I did pack up some stylish duds but they never left my suitcase. Because everyday's agenda involved a hike up some mountain or another, I opted to be comfy and warm. So you'll have to forgive my lackluster look and suffer through my vacation photos aplenty. Enjoy!
The Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg, Tennessee. We left for Gatlinburg last Saturday morning. We took our time and stopped by Knoxville, Tennessee for shopping at two of my favorite vintage shops in the area, Four Sessions Vintage and Nostalgia. Lunch at The Tomato Head was delish. Our hotel in Gatlinburg was pretty high in the Smokies. This was our view of the mountains the following morning.
After leaving Knoxville, we managed to make it to Dollywood in time to meet up with some friends, see a couple shows and ride some rides. Knowing we'd be back for more Dollywood-tasticness, we splurged on some annual passes. Normally the hubs and I take pretty poor photos but these aren't too shabby for us.
Okay, I was trying to snap a shot of this sculpture outside of the Wild Eagle ride because I thought it was pretty cool. What I didn't realize at the time was that it appears this poor unsuspecting dude is about to become an eagle snack. It cracks me up each time I see it! A side note: the moment they pulled the much-too-tight-for-my-taste harness over my head, I asked to be removed from the ride. The young guy strapping everyone in gave me a raised eyebrow and a "Really?" Knowing that I'd have a freak-out-fest if I was not released immediately, I gave him an, "Um, yes. Really. Please! Right now!" Needless to say, that's all it took. So, sorry, can't give you a review of the ride!
The day after our Dollywood adventures and my "get-me-off-this-ride" meltdown, we spent the day hiking. It was a chilly morning and much of the trail was covered in a 2" sheet of ice. But the huge cave at the end of the Alum Cave Trail was worth the slippery slopes.
At least three bridges made from giant logs were apart of the trail. At the end of this bridge, you had to hike inside the cave and climb a large stone staircase. Being in the shade meant that each step was a sheet of ice. I took to crawling up the steps and hoping hubs would break my fall if I fell.
Ya'll see that ice? You had to watch your step and your head. As the day went on and the sun came out, icicles were breaking and crashing to the ground. It was pretty scary as there would be no warning, just a sudden SMASH! on the ground. We managed to scramble up this slick trail pretty quickly.
At Alum Cave. The cave had a very large overhang which kept the ground here dry. It was still very chilly but the workout from the hike had us stripping off our layers. The overhang had huge patches of ice sliding off of it so we didn't stick around too long.







Hubs snapped this photo of me slipping and sliding across some ice. He likened it to the infamous photo of Big Foot. Sadly, I do see some similarities. Those hairy legs look especially familiar.
Remember the view from the outside of our hotel? Well, this would be the inside. I know, don't look at it too long. The funny thing is, both hubs and I are afraid of heights. So when we'd get off the elevator, we'd walk as far away from the overlook as possible. He was brave enough to snap this one photo for me. "Maybe you should take another to be sure you got it," says I. "I'm sure it's fine." Translation: You ain't gettin' another photo, lady.
The following day, hubs and I met up with our friends and decided to hike the Chimney Tops Trail. It was a pretty intense 2.5 hike straight up a mountain. My out-of-shapeness was really beginning to flair up about midway through the hike. I had to stop and tie my shoes a lot, if you catch my drift.
The view from the top. Only 20% of the folk that take on this hike actually make it to the top of the summit. The map said it was a "scramble" to the top which, I learned, has nothing to do with eggs. In hiking terms that means something like, "there ain't no trail, just a slippery vertical climb." Sorry, that's not my bag. Hubs, however, is now a proud member of the 20% club.
And thank goodness for that. Look at these beautiful photos he snapped from the top. You see that cloud at the top of the frame? Kinda gives you an idea just how high up he was.
Tennessee is such a beautiful place.
Christmas day found hubs and I taking the driving tour of Cades Cove and making our way back home. Tomorrow we are taking another road trip to explore more of Tennessee.
I hope you all have a safe and fun New Year! I'm sure to be spending mine with two of the biggest party animals I know, hubs and Asha the Cat. Thanks for dropping by and allowing me to share my endless vacation photos. I'll be back soon with a new Anthropologie DIY!







Thursday, December 27, 2012

DIY: Gnome for the Holidays

Ah! Giant Photo Alert! Just tryin' to make sure you can see the gnome-tastic-ness happening at the bottom of my dress. AND that annoying yoke thing that you can easily see put more wrinkles on my face and gray in my hair. I shoulda known anything called a yoke was gonna be trouble...guess the yoke was on me.
 Greetings from my gnome to your gnome! I present to you the latest in Crazy Art Teacher Style: The Gnome for the Holidays Dress. Please, make yourself at gnome as you read all about the trials and tribulations of the dress I worked on until the cows came gnome. And I promise you that will be that last of my home-meets-gnome idioms for at least a full 30 seconds. But that's all I can promise.
I'd like to have you believe that this dress was created for the children. After all, my wee artists are learning all about gnomes in art class (mini-gnome history lesson here) and I do love to dress the part.

But that "for the children" bit, that's just a complete lie.

One late night, whilst googling gnomes, I stumbled upon this Michael Miller fabric (from his collection so awesomely called Gnomeville) and I just knew I had to have it in my life and in my wardrobe. Because, in those quiet contemplative moments I have between one crazy art class to the next, I often think, "what is missing from my life?"

"Duh. A Gnome Dress."

While waiting for my fab fabric to arrive in the mail, I began plotting out my dress-terpiece. I decided to use the same Simplicity Pattern #1803 that I used on my Cuckoo Clock Dress and my Light-Up Blue Christmas Dress. Always a glutton for sewing punishment, I decided to attempt the yoke and cap sleeves for this dress. I felt for sure I was about to hit a fashion gnome run (it's been 30 seconds, right?).
And then the fabric arrived. All two yards of it. Oops. Turns out ordering gnome fabric in the middle of the night is not a good idea. After laying out the pattern pieces, I realized I could make the bodice of this dress but not the full skirt. But more on that later. 

For now, let's have a chat about the yoke. 

I'd like to summarize my feelings about the yoke in a little haiku I wrote one night while seam ripping for the umpteenth time. It goes a little something like this. Ahem:

For the love of gnomes
An art teacher makes a dress
Foiled! By a yoke!

Look, it's just a rough draft. I'm working on it.
To be fair, it wasn't the yoke's fault. I blame the author of the pattern that chose to leave out some vital steps. Having limited sewing experience, I am a strict step follower. So when this pattern just skipped several steps, I did too. And then the seam ripping commenced. When that became too annoying, I did a quick google search to find out what others were saying about the pattern. Several shared my frustration but then I read one that burned me up (read in your most annoying Nellie Oleson voice): "Oh, this is a great pattern for a beginner sewer."
Oh, gnome she didn't! After reading that, I snapped my laptop shut, stomped up to my sewing room, grabbed my seam ripper and went to town. Then I went about pinning the entire bodice together adding in the steps the author left out. When that worked, I unpinned the whole contraption and sewed it together. Yoke, you have replaced my hatred of sleeves. When it came time for the skirt, I decided to use my tried and true vintage Simplicity Pattern #8087. I opted for the skirt in view #2 but adding pockets from the other pattern. It's quite the hybrid of a dress.

Using two different patterns together had me nervous. I wasn't sure if the pocket thing would work and if the bodice and skirt would actually fit together. However, putting in that yoke made me bold enough to think I could do it. And it really was a snap. I opted to wear the bow of the belt in the back so as not to take away from my gnomies at the bottom of the dress.
The following day, when I wore it to school, the kids had great fun chillin' wit my gnomies.
Probably because we've been chatting about them for some time. Remember that midnight gnome fabric shopping spree I told you about? Well, I also picked up the two books on the left from a used book seller via amazon. The hilarious gnome book on the right is from my super Secret Santa at school.
And it turns out gnomes-disease is quite contagious. My sweet first grade artists have been bringing in these drawings since we began learning about them. They are currently creating a beautiful Black Forrest collage for their gnomes to call home. I'll be certain to share those with you soon.
Even my house is looking like Gnomeville from my Christmas tree (which is still up and will most likely stay up for entirely too long) to my knicky-knacks (thanks again, Secret Santa!). I do believe I have a new addiction.
Although, I don't think this is gonna be my "starter gnome" because I don't foresee too many more gnome frocks in my future. Especially with a yoke. However, since finishing this thing, I've updated my haiku. What's that? You wanna hear it? Well, (waving hand sheepishly) okay:

Yoke, who's yo mama?
Why, me and my seam ripper
And my wee gnomies.

Thanks for dropping by!



Monday, December 24, 2012

In the Art Room: Kindergarten Reindeer

Have you ever seen a reindeer that A.) Resembles Jay Leno and B.) Looks this cute resembling Jay Leno? I didn't think so.
Happy Christmas Eve to you! So the story goes that if you've been well-behaved, you'll be getting a visit from some chubby dude and his entourage of reindeer this evening. Lead by the one and only Rudolph, of course.

My kindergarten artists spent several art classes sculpting these reindeer masterpieces that, despite leaving me feeling as though it was not Grandma that got run over by reindeer but the Art Teacher, made me seriously proud. And, after one told me, "My mom is going to be so happy about my reindeer that she is going to say, 'Oh! Goodness that is the best little reindeer ever!'", I knew they were proud too.
How on earth did these five and six year olds create such amazement? With a half an hour, it really was nothing short of a Christmas Miracle. This lesson had some serious "Okay! Plan B!" moments so I thought I'd share with you how they were created. 
Our inspiration, of course. I've had this book since childhood. In fact, it even has my name written on the inside in my five year old handwriting.

For this lesson, we used the following:
  • Low fire clay
  • A stencil for the base
  • Brown, clear, white, black and red Stroke and Coat Glaze
  • Clay mats
  • Skewer sticks
  • Toothbrushes and cups of water
  • Ziplock bags and damp paper towels
  • A mountain of baby wipes
Several of my students put their reindeer together just as they would draw them: with their legs all in a row. 

I broke this lesson down in many days after trying to cram too much in during one class. When that lesson ended in tears (I managed to dry up before the fourth graders walked in), I decided to drag the lesson out even further. I'd rather give the kids too much time then to rush them. Being a super slow processor myself, I understand the need for lots of time. And tissues. Here's how I broke it down, yo:

On the First Day of Reindeer Clay, I gave to them one grapefruit sized piece of clay. I told them something crazy like, "hold your clay in front of your chest above your clay mat, drop it and pound it flat as a pancake." For a full minute the art room sounded like an elephant stampede with kid giggles throughout. Once flattened, the kids flipped their clay over to the smooth, not-pounded-on side and used their skewer sticks to trace the base shape. And that took us the entire art class, believe it or not. Each child was given a damp paper towel and a ziplock bag with their name on it. They were to "wrap their clay up in its blanket, put it in it's sleeping bag and say 'nightie-night'" until next time.
On the Second Day of Reindeer Figurines, I gave to them one piece of clay the size of a tangerine. We chatted about how many legs a deer has and I showed the children how to divide their clay into fourths. Twist sphere of clay in half and Viola! two pieces of clay. Twist other two pieces and Double Viola! now you have four. From there, they learned how to roll their clay into coils the length of their finger.
On the Second Day of Reindeer Clay, that really wasn't all, for the head I gave them one small ball. Once their coil legs were complete, they created a head. For one class, I tried to have them create all the coils, the head and assemble. That proved to be a reindeer train wreck. We just didn't have the time. Plan B for the following classes was to create all of the parts, wrap them up in a paper towel, gently place them on the base and place the base back into the bag until next time.

On the Third day of Reindeer Crazy, we had zero time for being lazy. The kids assembled their reindeer by "gluing" with the toothbrush and some slip to legs together for the front and two legs together for the back. These two sets were then glued together. Hooves were bent outward and assembled to the base. Lastly the head was added and our reindeer were kiln ready. Once dry, of course.

While the reindeer were drying, my other classes would come in and notice the reindeer. Except they didn't take them for reindeer. They'd say, "Oh! What cute dogs! Who made them?!" It reminded me of the story I read to the kindergarteners while we waited for some of our friends to finish sculpting, Olive the Other Reindeer. Like Olive, our little reindeer just needed some antlers to complete their look.
On the Fourth Day of Reindeer Craze, my little artists were ready to glaze! And I was so proud of their careful attention to detail.
"My Rudolph is a girl and she likes to wear a lot of red lipstick."
On the Last Day of our Reindeer Critter, our reindeer received his antlers made of pipe cleaner glitter! Now I was down to the wire on this, time wise. Normally, I'd expect the kids to create their own antlers, but between programs, field trips and assemblies, we just ran out of time. Thankfully, a very kind aide (thank you, Heidi!) and I managed to get them hot glued in just in time to send them home with the artists.
 I love the unintentional resemblance to Beaker on the left. Notice the sweet little black foot prints in the snow on the one on the right.

And there you have it! Just in time to guide someone's sleigh tonight. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas Eve and Day tomorrow. Enjoy!



Saturday, December 22, 2012

What I Wore this Week #47

Green and White Monday: Just a matter of days before break. And so much to do! dress: thrifted, Target; sweater: thrifted, Ann Taylor; tights: Target; shoes: Dolls by Nina; feather belt; Pinkyotto

For the next 16 days, I am a free woman. No more washing paint brushes over a sink that never drains; no more scrambling to prepare the paint, paper, brushes, glue, and the baby wipes to clean it all up with for the nine classes that rotate in and outta my room daily; and no more saying, "Puh-LEASE get a tissue and DO NOT put that in your mouth!" At least for the next coupla weeks. By then, I'm sure to be missing it all. Except for maybe that last part.

And since I'm completely and utterly in vacay mode, I've got no fine art or art history to share with you this week. What I do have are all of these super sweet Christmas images I've been pinning away on pinterest. Which have somehow subconsciously influenced my wardrobe choices for this week. I thought the resemblances were rather uncanny and just had to share them. I hope you enjoy!

I hope to be back before Christmas with a post of what my crafty kindergarteners created for their families for the holidays. Until then, get that last minute shopping done, spend time with those you love and eat too much sweet stuff. Happy Holidays!
Cuckoo Tuesday: My second graders are working so hard on their cuckoo clocks...but not nearly as hard as I had to when I put the sleeves in this dress. Look, I'm just sayin'. Time does not heal all sleeve-putting-in wounds. dress: made by moi; fishnets and tights: Target; shoes: Softt


Mrs. Claus Wednesday: The above side-to-side image shows what I looked like on the left and what I WISH I looked like on the right. Especially those Mrs. Claus boots. I think I need them in my life. dress: vintage; belt: borrowed from circle skirt by Pinup Girl
Oh Gnome You Didn't! Thursday: Oh, yes, I did. I finished my Gnome for the Holidays dress! I cannot wait to share it (and my countless struggles) in an upcoming post. And don't you just love this quirky image on the right? Alien Santa has four arms! gnome dress: me; tights: Target; shoes: Fluevog

Reindeer Bun Head/Light Up Dress Friday: A sweet coworker showed me this image of a sock bun Rudolph Thursday afternoon and I just knew I had to attempt it on Friday. Mine is an absolute disaster but the kids loved it. dress and belt: light up Christmas dress, made by me; tights: Target; sweater: thrifted

I know, it looks so much like Rudolph it's just bizarre, isn't it?! My apologies, Rudolph. I hope you'll still guide that sleigh to my pad on Christmas eve!