Month: December 2013

Visual Journal Page 57: Teaching Rewards

Visual-Journal-Page-57-Teaching-Rewards Visual-Journal-Page-57-Teaching-Rewards

It was the end of my second year teaching, things were beginning to wrap up, and the feeling of relief was beginning to show as I finished grades, projects, and started shutting down my classroom for the summer.

All in all my second year teaching was a fairly good year. I built wonderful relationships with my students, hosted a successful art show, took 50 kids on a field trip, developed new projects, and ran a fairly successful art club, all with the help of my wonderful co-worker Morgan. After a hilly first year teaching, I welcomed the feeling of accomplishment at the end of my second year.

While I was happy to have wrapped up an overall successful second year, I still had doubts creeping around my brain. I still had some classroom management ups and downs, I was still unsure this is where I wanted to stay teaching, and I knew next year if I didn’t find a new job I would be all alone. One of the art positions was officially cut just a few weeks prior, and I knew the next year would bring additional stress and a lack of collaboration as I continued to try to grow the art program on my own.

With questions about my future lurking in every corner, I welcomed a distraction when a letter suddenly appeared in my box one morning. It began with a “congratulations”, always a nice way to start a sentence. The words that followed made me pause, re-read a couple of times, and question the legitimacy of the letter. I had been named a “top ten teacher” of 2010-2011 by one of my students. A top ten teacher? Me? A lowly art teacher, with little to do with college applications, GPAs, or standardized test scores was a top ten teacher? I was in shock.

As it turns out, every year in Newton county the top ten students of every school in the county select one teacher they felt supported, influenced, and helped them reach the coveted position of being in the top ten. My wonderful, talented student, Abigail, had selected me as her top teacher. As a recipient of this both Abigail and I were recognized at a banquet, with a delicious spread of food, nice speeches, and plaques. From the moment I received the letter, until the banquet, and every time I enter “top ten teacher” on my resume, I truly feel accomplished.

With all of the doubts and questions I had about my future; constantly wondering if I would get the job I recently interviewed for, if Morgan could stay if I left, what  next year would look like going it alone, this was a welcome distraction. The recognition I received from my student and the county was enough to get me over the hump, to make it seem okay if I stayed another year at that school. The award made me feel accomplished, it was confirmation that I was dong something right, and I could do this on my own if need be.

Thank you Abigail for not only selecting me out of the many wonderful teachers you could have chosen, but for also giving me the confidence to continue on another year.


  • Visual journal
  • Rubber cement
  • Magazine images
  • Masking tape
  • Letter of recognition
  • Packaging tape
  • Water


For this visual journal page I knew I wanted to put the focus on the letter. I decided fairly quickly to do a tape transfer of the letter, to create a more interesting look than simply gluing the letter directly into my book. I did worry about ruining the letter and tape transfer, considering it was the only copy I had, but I decided to continue on anyways.

Before I started on the tape transfer I opted to create a more solid background. I found interesting colors and patterns in magazines, ripped them out, and began layering them on the right side of my book. After playing around with the background I realized it was still too busy for the thin, black text to show up on once I did my tape transfer. I needed a more neutral background under the text in order to read it. After considering my options I decided to use masking tape. I like the pattern it created when it was layered, and it had a nice, light brown color. I intermixed the magazine strips and masking tape until I was satisfied with the overall look.

Once my background was complete I began working on the tape transfer. I used packaging tape to carefully tape on top of the letter, rubbed the back to make sure the ink stuck to the tape, and rinsed it in water and rubbed the paper until nothing was left but the black ink of the text. Once the tape dried I carefully stuck it on top of the background to complete the page. To read more in depth instructions on how to create a tape transfer check out my how to here.


In your next visual journal page include a text tape transfer somewhere in your collage.

Thanks for taking the time to read my post and check out my blog! Feel free to e-mail me or comment below with questions or comments. Help me spread the word about my blog by sharing with others, I couldn’t do it without you!


Guest Post by Alicia Lawrence: Five Creative DIY Christmas Cards

If you want your Christmas cards to stand out from the rest and reflect your own personal style, consider making your own. Believe it or not, it’s easy to do and is a great project for the family to work on together. Here are five easy ideas for fun and festive homemade Christmas cards. Gather your tribe and give one a try!

Send a Carol

Have any old Christmas music books? Put it to good use by creating this vintage styled card. Cut out a section of the music to fit onto white cardstock. If you want to be fancy, add a red cardstock in back of the sheet music. Use a cute stamp, like a Christmas tree, and attach a simple message on the front like “Christmas Greetings.”

vintage music

Handprint Santa

Here’s a great one for kids. Be sure to lay down plenty of newspaper to protect your work surface! Cut Santa hat shapes out of red craft paper and use glue sticks to attach to each card. Glue googly eyes about one finger’s width below each hat. Using white tempera paint, have your child stamp handprint beards on each Santa. Use fingertips and various colors to add a black mouth, pink cheeks and perhaps some white trim for the hat. Don’t forget the red nose!


Rosemary Wreath

Begin with blank greeting cards in the color of your choice. Icy blue or pure white looks good with this idea. Take sprigs of rosemary and form them into circles, then secure with red ribbon or yarn. Use a dot of hot glue to secure it to the inside of your card. Not only will you have a beautiful creation, it will also have a wonderful Christmas scent your recipients will love!

rosemary wreath

O Christmas Tree

Use wavy or zig-zag craft scissors to cut strips of different green patterned scrapbook paper. Use different shades to give your tree more visual interest. Use regular scissors to cut a tree trunk out of brown scrapbook paper. Glue onto red card stock, forming a tree shape. Start at the bottom of your tree and work your way up. The green strips should be wider at the bottom, narrowing at the top into a triangular tree. Top with a gold star sticker.


Perfect Presents

Here’s a great way to use up scraps of wrapping paper. Cut them into present shapes or ornaments and use a glue stick to attach to card stock. Try mixing and matching various colors, patterns and sizes for unique and festive combinations. Use a gel pen or marker to draw the strings or red bows on top the presents. Write your greeting on the face of the card. Voila! Your Christmas cards are wrapped up.


Creating handmade Christmas greetings is a fun and creative project that does not take a lot of time or effort to do. Try the ideas offered here, or be inspired by ideas at Better Homes & Gardens or at Martha Stewart. You’ll be proud of your creations and your recipients will love them. Who knows? They could be kept for years to come and inspire others to use their imagination as well.

Etsy Shop Review and Giveaway: Marquesa Atelier (closed)

IMG_7580 copyI’m so excited for this Christmas because it will be my first Christmas with my newest niece, my sister’s daughter, Payton. I cann’t wait to start Christmas shopping for the adorable 5 month old, and I of course began searching Etsy first.

With so many amazing handmade products on Etsy these days, it’s hard to choose what is the best product for you. I always look for shops that provide great pictures, various angles, and a lot of details in the description to give me a better idea of what I am purchasing. This was especially important since I was looking for something for a fast growing newborn.

As I began my hunt for my first gift I decided I wanted to find a pretty winter hat. It truly is amazing how many handmade hat shops exist on Etsy, and I’m pretty sure I grazed through a good chunk of them. As I continued my search for the perfect hat I discovered a wonderful shop, Marquesa Atelier , run by Tatiana out of Europe.

1Her hats came in all different shapes, sizes, patterns, and colors. They were proudly displayed upon tiny models’ heads, giving me a good idea of the size and fit. My sister’s current obsession with all things bows, flowers, and headbands for little Payton perfectly fit with Tatiana’s girly designs. As soon as my eyes fell upon the ivory knitted hat with the ivory flower detail, I knew it would be perfect.

I can easily imagine little Payton with her cute hat and winter coat this season. I immediately ordered a 5 month old size. In addition to placing my order, I also contacted Tatiana to see if she would be interested in having me feature her product on my blog in exchange for a giveaway for my readers. I was thrilled when she agreed and offered for the winner to select their favorite item from her shop as their prize. This sweetened the deal for the hat, and I eagerly awaited it’s arrival.

A couple of weeks later the hat found it’s way to my doorstep. I was very impressed with the speedy delivery, considering Tatiana had to make it and ship it from practically the other side of the world. I was even more impressed when I opened the package and found the beautiful crocheted hat inside.

As a one time knitting attempter and failure I am always impressed when other people succeed. Every loop, detail, and pattern was perfectly executed. The hat was symmetrical, tightly woven, and looks like it will be the perfect fit for Payton’s head. I’m impressed with Tatiana’s ability and can’t wait to order more in the future as Payton continues to grow.

Hat giveaway

If you would like to enter to win your own Tatiana original from Marquesa Atelier simply like her shop here, and comment below with the item you would like to win. If you would like to earn two additional entries all you have to do is share this post on Twitter or Facebook and comment below with a link to your post and/or like my shop here and comment below with the name you liked it under. In order to be entered three separate times please make sure you comment below three separate times.


The winner will be randomly selected next Thursday, 12/12 using the plugin, “And the Winner Is…”. The winner will be contacted via e-mail, if the winner doesn’t confirm in a 24 hour period and new winner will be selected. The winner will be announced on my Facebook page here. Thank you Marquesa Atelier for offering a giveaway and thank you readers for checking out my blog and participating!