Tag: diary

Visual journal page 36: The Wedding Ring Incident

A visual journal page about my husband accidentally being buried in the backyard.

This visual journal page is about the day my husband buried his wedding ring.

I have heard many ways people have lost their wedding rings. Leaving it on the bathroom sink and it slipping down the drain, pulling it off in a pair of gloves and accidentally throwing it away. But, until my own personal experience, I had never heard of someone losing their ring because they accidentally buried it.

Yes, my husband buried the physical representation of our eternal love in our backyard.

My husband is a fidgeter. He drums his fingers on any flat surface, wiggles his foot, he is in constant motion. One of his favorite fidgeting pastimes is taking off his ring and spinning it on table tops. So naturally, one afternoon when he suddenly couldn’t find his ring, my assumption was he took it off and left it somewhere without realizing it.

We walked through his day, where he had been, what he did, when he last remembered having his ring. We searched the house from top to bottom, under furniture, on tables tops, in every nook and cranny. We came up empty handed.

When I decided it was time to throw in the towel, it hit Nick. He spent all morning planting plants in the backyard, surely it fell off while he was doing yard work. I was skeptical it could simply fall off, but Nick was determined. He spent the remainder of the evening searching over our not small backyard.

The next day I assumed it was time to start thinking about a replacement, while Nick decided it was time to rent a metal detector. He spent the entire next day combing the yard with headphones on, detector to the ground, listening for beeps and digging to find what was detected.

Let me give you some context.

Our adorable Atlanta bungalow was built in 1940. In it’s hey-day East Lake was a happening Atlanta neighborhood. A beautiful lake attracted Atlantians as a vacation spot and break from city life in the late 1800’s. But, as the years passed civil rights swept the nation and white flight began happening in many cities. This caused East Lake’s previous wealthy inhabitants to leave, attracting lower income residents, and creating the racial divide that honestly still persists today. The beautiful lake that once was a public attraction was purchased, gated off, and reserved only for wealthy golfers to play the course that now surrounds it. Like most Atlanta neighborhoods, East Lake became crime ridden, home owners couldn’t afford to keep up their houses, and things took a turn for the worse. However, the last 15 years has brought new life to these Atlanta homes with people moving back into the city who are able to rehab formerly run down homes. This is wonderful for our area, but also puts our older homeowners at risk with rising property taxes. But, that is a whole separate tangent that you don’t want me to get started on.

All of this brings me to the fact that from the 1960’s until we purchased the house, our backyard was essentially a trash dump. At a glance you wouldn’t think this. But over the years the rain, wind, and other elements would slowly push the junk just under the top soil. The amount of glass we have found, and still find, over the 8 and a half years we have lived in our house is astonishing. So, as my hopeful hub was searching for his wedding ring every few inches he instead found a random piece of rusted metal, an old oil can, a random tin, an empty soda can.

Instead of spending the day searching for his ring, it turned into a day where he uncovered every piece of trash buried in the dirt for the past sixty years. In defeat he returned the metal detector and claimed his ring a lost cause.

At the end of the day he walked out back one last time. He admired a row of newly planted bushes and noticed one bush was just a few inches out of line. He reached down and pulled the plant up in order to replant it in line, and as he describes it, his ring popped out of the ground as the plant came out, as if it were a coin in a video game.

A day of searching and the use of a high tech device had failed him. What paid off in the end was his OCD.

SUPPLIES:

  • Visual journal book
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Old book pages
  • Heavier white paper
  • Watercolors
  • Paint brushes
  • Water
  • Colored pencils

HOW TO:

When it came time to create this visual journal page I was excited because I already had a vision in mind. I knew I wanted to emphasize the bush that ate Nick’s ring, and planned all along to create it in watercolor. Once I had an idea for that, I began on the background.

I wanted an earthy look, so I pulled old book pages that had a variety of page colors. I ripped them in stripes to create a softer look, and glued them down in vertical lines. Once I had the background set I sketched out the bush shape with pencil before I started with the watercolor.

I wanted the leaves to be very bright so I used the wet on wet watercolor technique. I first filled the leaf shapes in with water, then loaded green on my brush before adding it to the water filled leaf shapes. When you add watercolor pigment to water, it will fill the water shape. As long as the area around the shape is dry, it typically won’t extend beyond the limits of the water. Once I had a green base layer I introduced a dark blue at the very edge of each leaf to create a shadow.

I repeated the wet on wet technique with the bark on the trunk and roots, although I used less water so the colors wouldn’t blend as much. To fill in the dirt I simply painted dots all around the bush roots, using different shades of brown.

I really wanted the ring to stand out, since it is the focus of the story, so I decided to draw it out with colored pencil, so the material would contrast against everything else. I drew it on a separate sheet of paper, filled it in with colored pencil, then cut it out and glued it to the page. I cut sections of the ring out to show the roots painted on the page to make it appear as though the ring was overlapped by the roots.

To add the words I wanted to create a space that made sense with the rest of the image, so I drew out and painted a scroll like bar. I painted the same texture at the end of the roll as the bark on the bush, to look like it was being pulled out of the trunk of the bush. I wrote the words using a thin paintbrush and watercolor.

Through the years this page has held it’s spot as one of my favorite visual journal pages I have created. I am very happy with the final image and the story behind it is one I will never forget.

CHALLENGE

Create a visual journal page about a piece of jewelry. It can be a sentimental piece, the loss of a piece, or the desire for something. Have fun and good luck!

Interested in more visual journal stories, tips, and how tos? Check out my visual journal blog page here and my visual journal bundle on TPT here. Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help spread the word and get involved with visual journaling by following, sharing, and commenting!

Visual Journal Page 33: The Bee Incident

This visual journal page reflects my attempt to enjoy a beautiful spring day.

My former classroom was large with a lot of windows and natural light. While it isn’t as beautiful as my current set up (I am so spoiled) I did have a door to the outside, which was a huge perk.

There was something about the ability to walk outside and take a breath of fresh air that felt freeing. It was also functional in classes that often used spray paint, fixative, and other hazardous materials. Many days I would prop the door open, letting the fresh air into my stagnant room, and more often than not, pretend I was not stuck in a classroom with a bunch of wild teenagers.

Every now and then a creature from the great outdoors would find its way into my classroom. It would cause momentary chaos until it found its way back out again, but it was worth the risk to have fresh air.

Or so I thought.

One particular day I was standing by my desk talking with a student, a class full of kids working hard behind them, when all of the sudden I felt an odd sensation on my leg. It started off with a tingle and quickly escalated to a burn. I immediately looked down and discovered the culprit, a bee had decided to attack me.

I resisted every urge to yell, curse, jump up and down, and cry. As calmly as I could I stated the obvious “A bee stung me!” and sent my student back to their seat. I was slightly incredulous, I was just standing there, that bee came into my room, why did it feel a need to sting me?

As the pain began to subside I couldn’t help but feel bad for the bee. All I wanted was fresh air, and instead I got a stinger in my leg and a dead bee on my floor. For the rest of class I walked around helping my kids and couldn’t help but bring up my injury. They smiled, nodded, and patiently waited for me to answer their actual art related questions. I’m sure they thought I was being dramatic but until I could no longer feel the stinger in my leg, I couldn’t help but discuss it.

My takeaway: at least I didn’t curse in front of 35 teenagers.

SUPPLIES

  • Visual journal
  • Glue
  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Watercolor
  • Paintbrush
  • Water
  • Thin sharpie
  • Book pages
  • Scissors

HOW TO

This visual journal page was created shortly after the incident. I felt I needed to express my feelings, since my students weren’t interested in listening to me complain about my injury. I knew I wanted to focus on the bee since it was the cause of the incident, but also because insects are very interesting to draw and paint.

I started by sketching the bee shape out on a separate sheet of paper. I then began filling the bee in with watercolor. I quickly decided I wanted to splatter the the paint away from the bee to create a strong focal point and sense of movement. As soon as I filled in the color I would blow the watercolor away from my drawing. I did the painting in sections. I painted all of the black first, then let it dry before moving to the next part. This prevented the color from blending together. Watercolor will only stay where the paper is wet, if it’s surrounded by dry, for the most part, it will only stay in the wet section.

After painting my bee and letting it dry, I cut it out. I began playing with placement on my visual journal page, but had a hard time figuring it out. It was too simple to just put the bee down, but I didn’t want to fill up another page with ripped up book pages. I decided to pull two pages from different books and played around with overlapping them. I thought about gluing the bee down to one, cutting it out, then repeating to get a wider paper edge around the painting, but had also been using that technique a lot in my visual journal up to that point. I finally laid the full pages down on the right side page and liked the look. It almost looked like the bee was laying on paper left on the floor (a common occurrence in my classroom).

Next, I began brainstorming ways to incorporate the text and add some visuals to the left side page. I eventually landed on creating a line out of book pages that would mimic the bee’s flight line, until it’s untimely demise. I used the line as a space to incorporate my text: “I had a very difficult time trying to maintain my composure.”

CHALLENGE

Create a visual journal page about a bug. It can be an incident with a bug, a study of a bug, or your favorite bug.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help me spread the word about my blog and visual journals by sharing with others. Thanks for stopping by!

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.