Review and Giveaway: No Clasp Hoop Earrings

No clasp hoop earrings by Eluna Jewelry Designs.

I was recently contacted by April Williams of Eluna Jewelry Deigns to do a review of her hoop earrings. It has been a long time since I have blogged about product reviews and I love to help out fellow Etsyers, so I jumped at the opportunity.

When I first opened April’s e-mail I saw basic hoop earrings. I immediately thought to myself, they look nice, but what makes them special? I then noticed a little loop at the end of the earring, rather than a straight piece and back clasp. After reading through the details I realized these hoops were clasp free.

As a very bad jewelry owner, clasp free anything is ideal. I have lost so many earring backs simply taking my earring off. There must be a black hole hidden in the tile of my bathroom. As the earring back falls I hear the final “ping” as it hits the floor, never to be heard from or seen again. Then there are the days where halfway through my workday a student will ask why I only have one earring on. Somehow they jump out of my ears and with my daily routine of being everywhere on campus, there is little to no chance of recovery.

Long story short, I was on board with this product before April shipped it to me. I couldn’t quite grasp how these would work, I am a visual learner, but figured it couldn’t be too complicated. April shipped them out and I eagerly awaited their arrival.

I opted for the medium size sterling silver backless hoop earrings. All of her products are made from quality metals such as sterling silver, 14 kt gold, copper, and niobium, a metal I had never heard of. I learned it is a hypoallergenic metal that can come in multiple colors. Since I am lacking a set of hoops (crazy, I know) in my earring collection, I thought this was the best way to go. I also like to review the “bread and butter” products of a seller, since these are typically the most moved and most popular items.

As soon as the package arrived I handed the babies over to my hub and ran upstairs to try them on. The package included instructions, the earring should be placed through the back of my earring hole. What should have clicked as soon as I pulled up images of her jewelry finally clicked when I had the earrings and instructions in hand. You thread the non-loop end through the back of your ear and the loop rests agains the back of your lobe.

My immediate reaction was, “well this isn’t going to be easy.”  But it was much better than I expected. It only took a few tries to line it up before it came through. Since then I have gotten much better at the process, and I have to admit I have had a lot of practice wearing these over the last two weeks.

The size was just what I was looking for and the wire is nice and thin. The earrings are incredibly light and look delicate. It’s so nice to have this basic style in my collection, they have become regulars in my rotation.

I am also a big fan of the fact that April makes and ships these out of Raleigh, NC. I love supporting fellow artists and local, handmade, southern products. Her prices are extremely reasonable, this style lists for just $20.

In addition to sending me a pair to try out, April has also sent me a pair to giveaway to one lucky reader. All you have to do is visit April’s Etsy shop here or website here and comment below with your favorite item. You can get one bonus entry if you subscribe to my blog (simply fill out the form at the bottom of this post) and follow her Etsy shop, comment again letting me know you are following both of us. The winner will be randomly selected on Sunday, April 29th. They will have 24 hours to respond to my e-mail before another winner is selected.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my latest product review and read my blog! Check out my other posts here, teaching products here, and my Etsy shop here. Thanks for stopping by!

 

Backless Hoop earrings by Eluna Jewelry Designs.

Visual Journal Page 32: Panetta Makes Me Think of Butter?

A visual journal page made using colored pencils.

Before I was a Panetta I was a Ward. For 23 years I had a simple, four letter, easy to pronounce last name. There was never any confusion or stuttering over letters. I never realized the benefits of a simple name until I got married and became a Panetta. While I do sometimes have fun with the “Are you related to Leon Panetta?” question, dealing with mispronunciations have already gotten old. I’m no longer Whitney Ward I am Whitney P-A-N-E-T-T-A, Panetta. You have to spell it out. Every time.

Over the past nine years of my teaching career my students have come up with many creative nicknames for me. They always stay pretty close to the original: Mrs. Pinata, Panera, Picasso. I’ve also had shortened versions, Mrs. P, Mrs. P-Net. My students get the Italian heritage. I once had a student decorate my white board with a drawing of spaghetti and baguettes because, according to her, Panetta made her think of spaghetti and baguettes (check out that visual journal page here).

All of those nicknames and thought processes made sense to me. But one day a student told me my last name reminded them of butter. Panetta, butter, Panetta, butter, I just don’t see the connection. And since I couldn’t figure out the logic behind it, I dealt with this new interpretation of my name the best way I know how. I made a visual journal page about it.

Panetta reminds me of butter?

SUPPLIES:

  • Visual journal
  • Colored pencils
  • Pencil
  • White paper
  • Book pages
  • Glue
  • Scissors

HOW TO

To create this visual journal page, I decided to keep it simple. I opted to use colored pencil and book pages to create a simple collage that got to the point.

First, I used colored pencils to create lines in the background.

Next, I sketched out butter on a butter dish and a knife on a separate sheet of paper.

I filled the sketch in with colored pencil, slowly building up the colors in thin layers. With each new layer I tried to vary the color and add shadows and highlights to create depth. As I built up the color in the butter, I used darker shades of yellow to create text in the butter: “Panetta reminds me of butter?” While the text blends very well into the shape of the butter, it is difficult to read. Looking back, I would’ve cleaned up the text to make it more legible. Check out a lesson that goes in depth on using colored pencils here. 

Once the colored pencil drawing was complete, I cut it out, and glued the two pieces on top of old book pages. I cut the drawings back out, leaving an edge of book pages around both drawings.

I glued the butter dish down first, then overlapped the knife to complete the page.

TIP: use a credit card to push paper into the crease of your visual journal book.

CHALLENGE

Create a visual journal page about your last name.

Thanks for taking to the time and checking out my blog. Help spread the word about visual journaling by sharing it with others. Are you interested in teaching visual journals in your classroom? Check out my visual journal bundle here and my how to worksheets here. Thanks for stopping by!

 

A visual journal made with colored pencils and book pages.

 

Weekend Projects: Converting Our Dining Room to a Playroom

The chalkboard wall I added to my kids' playroom.

A little over a year ago we handed over another room of our tiny 1400 square foot house to our little boy and it all started with a teepee.

While deciding what to get Cooper for his first real Christmas (the previous year he was a tiny 6 weeks old) I discovered the most adorable (and on sale) teepee from Crate and Barrel’s The Land of Nod. I had to have it.

When the teepee arrived it came in multiple, very large boxes, and it occurred to me that we didn’t have a single spot to put the very adorable teepee. Cooper’s room was already at the brink of full with his crib, changing table, and glider. Our front bedroom was still functioning as a guest bedroom, and a teepee didn’t quite fit the decor.

As I looked around, brainstorming ideas for where this was going to go, I really began noticing the overflowing basket of toys in our living room. I realized this was just the beginning. Cooper had only just learned how to walk, and already our house was overrun with his stuff. It was just going to get worse. I told Nick that I was going to try rearranging things and he was just going to have to trust me. I promised we would put everything back if it didn’t work.

But really, what we both knew was my mind was made up. We were saying goodbye to our rarely used (but nice to have around) dining room.

Our dining room before it was converted into our kids' playroom.

Our house was built in the 1940’s with a screened in porch on the side. We aren’t sure when, but at some point before we purchased the house the porch was converted into an interior space. It still has the feel of a former porch, it’s long and narrow. You have to step down through the doorway to access it, and the windows are big and beautiful, letting in amazing natural light. It isn’t very poorly insulated. As Nick likes to put it, in winter you can feel the heat leaving your body if you are sitting next to the doorway to the room.

The only time the room was used was when I was making art and we were entertaining guests. I couldn’t justify the space we use most, our living room, continuing to fill up with Cooper things when we had this space that could be better utilized. I started by moving the cloth covered chairs pictured above and the adorable white, round table that I loved in our kitchen (read about it in a visual journal post here) to our attic. I mourned the loss of those pieces of furniture for a moment before moving onto my next task, telling myself one day in a bigger house they would once again see the light of day. I moved the farm table and benches to our kitchen and paired them with the blue chairs that were already in there. The table ate up the small nook in our kitchen, but I ended up painting them white to help it feel less full.

Next, I added the cushy, letter and number floor mat to cover the hard tile. I cut them to make sure every inch of the tile was covered. When Nick saw me cutting up the mats I had just bought to “test whether or not this would work” I think he realized it was a done deal whether he liked it or not. The floor mats have served two useful purposes in that room. They help Cooper from getting less injured when he falls and it helps insulate the floor.

I already loved the turquoise color in the room, so I opted not to repaint the entire room. Instead, I added a full chalkboard wall to one wall. Cooper loves scribbling on it, and I loved adding the “Cow Jumped Over the Moon” poem to it.

The chalkboard wall in my kids' playroom.

We even have a space where we mark Cooper’s height. Kennedy will be up on the board before long! I also mark it on the door molding with a sharpie for a more permanent record than chalk.

After floor covering and painting, all that was missing was Cooper’s stuff. I didn’t realize how much stuff he actually had until it immediately filled up the room. We added a shelf for books and toys, as well as various baskets. His teepee looked amazing in the corner. I still haven’t figured out how to keep the room looking neat with all the scooters, bikes, and toys lining the walls, but if I am being honest with myself a playroom really shouldn’t ever look clean.

I kept a shutter that Nick found on the side of the road propped up against the wall. Someone painted “free at last” in purple on it. I love it. I have thought about adding to it, but haven’t taken the plunge yet. I love that this is exactly the way we found it, and I can’t decide if I want to touch it. I imagine the original artist painting the vines and text, only someone in good spirits would paint “free at last.” It adds good vibes to the room. Around the shutter I added some artwork that I have traded for at festivals over the years. One of my favorites is a piece by Lovely Bones Illustrations (follow her on Facebook here and Instagram here), a little creature painted on a cut piece of wood.

Cooper’s teepee fits perfectly in the corner and is always full of pillows, stuffed animals, and a Cooper from time to time.

While I wish we still had a more comfortable place to sit and break bread with friends, I would never go back on covnerting the playroom. Having a space where Cooper can play freely is invaluable. It also helps to have a room where I can toss his stuff without thinking twice about the way it looks.

This is Cooper Christmas morning when he got his teepee:

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Check out my other chalkboard paint project here. Want to read more? Get these posts delivered right to your inbox by subscribing in the form below. Thanks for stopping by!

Visual Journal Page 31: Atlanta Adventures

A visual journal page about a lifelong friendship and a trip to the aquarium. Visual journal tips, techniques, and challenges are included.

So far, my best friends have been made in high school and in college. These are the people I know will be in my lives forever, the ones my kids will refer to as aunts and uncles. The difficult part of developing these deep friendships during this time, is its a pre-root time period. My friends scattered across the US for college, and even more after college. As we all graduated from college some stayed and some left. As we moved onto our adult jobs and adult relationships, adult roots also began to take hold.

Nick and I ended up settling near the areas we grew up. Luckily, some of our good friends decided to do the same, but some others opted for new scenery, 3,000 miles away.

One of our dearest friends is a friend we each met separately before Nick and I began dating. I knew Jared in high school. Although our friendship didn’t develop until our senior year, we quickly began hanging out in the same group of friends and got to know each other better. Jared was my senior prom date and we ended up attending the same college. I always felt comfortable with him and could talk to him easily. I was excited to have such a dear friend be a part of the next journey in our lives.

Nick lived on the same hall as Jared freshman year. The tiny UGA dorm rooms forces students to spend more time hanging out in the hallways and spilling into hall-mates rooms. Jared and Nick hung out more and more as the year continued on, they kept in touch sophomore year after moving into apartments, and ended up living with each other the last few years of college.

Nick and I began dating our sophomore year of college after meeting at a party at Jared’s apartment. With Jared being such a huge part of both of our lives, it was inevitable that the three of us would spend a lot of time together. When I think back to college I always think of Nick, Jared, and Elly (my other dear friend who also moved to LA. You can read about the visual journal page I used to process my feelings about that move here). It wouldn’t have been college without them.

After college Jared and his girlfriend, Ashley, moved to LA (very much against the will of Nick and I). We were both sad to see them go, but excited for their new adventure, on what felt like another planet.

Every year, at the very least, Jared comes home for Christmas. This particular year, we decided to meet up and do some stereotypical Atlanta tourist things: visit the World of Coke, the Atlanta Aquarium, and eat at a downtown restaurant. The three of us spent the day together gallivanting the city, and it felt like not a single day had passed since we graduated college. That was when I knew no matter the distance or length of time between catching up, we would always be friends.

Jared and Ashley are now the godparents of our first born, little man Cooper. Now they are forced to be a part of our lives forever (a very selfish, calculated decision on Nick and my part). The best friends are the ones that feel like they never left when they move far away and come back and visit.

SUPPLIES

  • Visual journal
  • White paper
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • Water
  • Shallow cup
  • Straw
  • Dawn soap
  • Scissors
  • Sharpie
  • Glue

HOW TO

One of my favorite parts of that day was looking at the jellyfish at the aquarium. I decided I would focus on that as the visual for the page. I recently began playing with bubble paint prints, was slightly obsessed (check out my visual journal worksheet on making bubble paint prints here),  and this would provide another way for me to use them.

I wanted to paint the background blue and green, so I ripped two pages out of my visual journal, painted them, then set them aside to dry. By ripping the pages out and gluing them back in, it prevents the paint from bleeding through the paper onto other pages.

While the background was drying, I working on painting the jellyfish. I looked up a few pictures to reference, then loosely painted them. I kept the colors warm, to contrast the cool background. Once they dried, I cut them out.

Once the background dried, I added the white bubble paint prints on top. To do that I took a shallow dish, added white acrylic paint, water, and dawn soap. I mixed it together, then used a straw to blow bubbles. Once the bubbles were just over the rim of the dish, I lightly placed the background paper on top, causing the bubbles to either stick to the paper or pop on the paper. I popped any bubbles that stuck to the paper after lifting it. The white coloring in the bubbles created a print of the bubble shape on the paper.

After the bubble paint prints dried, I glued the pages back into my visual journal. I simply glued them on top of the next two pages of my book. Next, I glued the cut out jellyfish paintings down. Last, but not least, I added the words using sharpie.

CHALLENGE

Create a visual journal page about an important person in your life.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog and read today’s post! Help me spread the word about visual journals by sharing this post with others. If you are interested in teaching visual journals to your art students, check out my visual journal handouts here and yearlong lesson plan pack here.  Would you like more visual journal how tos delivered straight to your inbox? Become a subscriber: fill out your e-mail address in the form at the bottom of the page. Thanks for stopping by!

A visual journal page about a lifelong friendship and a trip to the aquarium. Visual journal tips, techniques, and challenges are included.

Homemade Valentines with a Toddler (and paint)

This year is the first year Cooper gets to celebrate Valentine’s day at school. Last year, as a one year old, he was a little too young to participate in the festivities. But this year, he gets to exchange valentines in the big kid room. We were asked to bring in 19 valentines to exchange with all the students at his daycare. I decided while he is still young enough to not have an opinion about what valentines to bring, we would make our own. Plus the art teacher/mom in me thought it would be fun to have a craft project over a very rainy weekend. 

We started by using the easel he got for Christmas. I limited his color choices to pink, white, and silver, gave him two brushes, and let him go to town. I did encourage him to cover the entire page, but other than that, this was 95% Cooper painted. I decided to use the paper that came with his easel since it was large and already attached to the easel, but if I could go back I would’ve used a thicker paper instead.

We painted two large sheets of paper using pink, white, and silver, then let them dry overnight. The next day we flipped them over and painted the back of the sheets with red and glitter red paint. I was much smarter first time around, having Cooper paint without a shirt on. I forgot to take his very white shirt off before painting with very red paint. Luckily, we were using washable paint, so the paint that inevitably ended up all over his shirt came out after just one wash.

After we finished painting and the paint had dried, we started adding some other decorations. One of Cooper’s favorite parts was stamping with the heart stamp.

Next, I began cutting up the sheets of paper into smaller valentine size pieces.

After cutting and folding them, we punched out heart and star shapes. I kept the pink and white on the outside and red on the inside so the heart cut outs would pop. The heart puncher was very hard to push down, so I handled those, while cooper added the stars.

After we punched, added a few more stamps, and some colored pencil scribbles, I had Cooper put a sparkly heart sticker on the inside of each one.

This year I handled the name signing. We will work on his alphabet so maybe he can sign a few next year.

To finish them off we stuffed them in envelopes with a handful of sparkly, foam, Valentine themed stickers.

I love the homemade look of these valentines. I know this will probably be one of the only times I get the chance to do this. I’m sure Cooper will be seduced by the action heroes, minions, and other fun characters that cover the not as fun and unique valentines in the stores. Until then, I will soak up every minute of craft time with my little.

I hope you enjoyed this Valentine post on Valentine’s day. Help me spread the word about crafting with littles, art, visual journals, and all things crafty by sharing it with others. Thanks for stopping by!

Adventures in making homemade valentines with a two year old, and paint, and stamps, and stickers, and so much more.