Tag: relationship

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!

Adventures in Cabinet Refinishing a.k.a Making it Work is Cheaper than Moving


Over the past 7 and a half years since we moved into our historic Atlanta bungalow our family has expanded, but the walls of our house have not. With each passing year, and addition of more stuff and tiny humans, I feel our 1400 square foot house getting smaller and smaller. Now with baby number two on the way, we are having to get creative with our storage.

Over the summer I finally hit a wall with our kitchen. I realized that I needed space for Cooper’s toddler food items as well as baby girl’s (coming end of November, yikes!) baby feeding items. You would think such tiny humans wouldn’t require much space, but it took a great deal of reorganizing and purging just to clear a single shelf to accommodate Cooper. Plus I was sick of dishes, pots and pans spilling out of my cabinets every time I opened a door. In addition to the cabinet space issue, the overflow from our pantry to the top of our refrigerator had also found it’s way to the top of our cabinets making our kitchen look like a complete mess even at it’s most picked up.

I was over it. Something needed to change and Nick and I decided moving was too much. This kitchen is my reality for the foreseeable future, it was time to make it work.

So my wheels started turning. There was enough space at the top of our current cabinets to fit another row of cabinets to give us more storage space. I began researching our brand of cabinets and my options. I quickly discovered that even cheap, laminate cabinets are pricey and they didn’t make the size I was looking for. I started on plan B, what creative way could I add space? I thought about building something custom, with stain glass window doors, and all kinds of fancy things. But the reality was all the fancy things came with fancy thing price tags and it was going to be difficult to match the stain of our cabinets, which I was not a fan of anyway.

Plan C: I began researching all styles and finishes of cabinets. If I could find something cheap, I could bite the bullet and commit to fully repainting our cabinets. This plan started to develop into reality when I discovered the perfect height and unfinished cabinets, for a cheap price tag, at Home Depot (check out what I found here). The width of the cabinets was limited to two sizes, which meant they wouldn’t perfectly line up with our current cabinets, but I thought I could make it work regardless.

Next, I began researching how to refinish laminate cabinets and realized it was a lot less overwhelming than I thought. I knew it would be a time consuming project, but it was summer vacation, and I was ready. I used Bob Villa’s tips on cabinet refinishing as my guide, check it out here.

As soon as I had my strategy worked out, I was ready to immediately get supplies and get started. For this project I needed:

  • A screwdriver, to remove the cabinet doors and all hardware from the cabinets
  • Rags, gloves, and a product called TSP to heavy duty clean the sticky, kitchen dust and grim that had accumulated on my cabinets. Gloves with TSP is a must, it’s a not very environmentally or human friendly product, but I tried to be very responsible while I used it and it seriously got the job done. I purchased heavy duty gloves for this.
  • A power sander and 120 grit sandpaper to rough up the surface of the cabinets. I pity the person who attempts to do this project without a power sander, my arms don’t need to see that kind of action. Bob Villa recommended 120 grit to rough up the surface without damaging the laminate surface.
  • An angled paintbrush plus foam cabinet rollers. The cabinet rollers were cheap, cheap, cheap. I went through 1 and 1/2 packages (each packaged had 4 rollers) for my project, they tore up very quickly, but they were so worth it. The rounded end allows you to press paint into all the nooks and crannies and the finished surface was very smooth. My hubs, who is full of constructive criticism, even commented on how nice the finish looked.
  • The paint department employee told me to purchase a primer that specifically said “bonding” on the front to ensure the paint stuck to the laminate surface. I doubled down and bought a primer/paint combo for my top coat, although I still had to paint 4-5 coats to get a solid look. I went with a bright white for my cabinets.

I hit a moment very early on when I felt overwhelmed and questioned what I was doing. Simply seeing the amount of junk we have in our cabinets piled all over our kitchen, with a 2 year old trying to get into everything, was enough to make me want to quit. But, the mess is worth it, I promise. I moved all my drawers and cabinet doors to our deck to clean, sand, and paint them. For everything else, I had to leave windows and doors open, to ensure I had good airflow, and clean, sand, and paint in my kitchen. The TSP did the trick, but it did discolor the wood as soon as it touched it. That was the point of no return.

After cleaning everything with TSP and allowing it to dry, I sanded everything down. I went over it enough to feel a slight texture when I ran my hand across the wood. I then wiped everything down with a damp rag to make sure no sawdust was left behind. Over the course of the next two days I felt like I was in a constant loop. I would put a coat on the front of all drawers and doors, move inside and put a coat of paint on all the hanging cabinets. By the time I made it back outside, the paint was dry to the touch, I flipped everything over, and painted the backs and interiors of the doors and drawers. I went back inside and continued the cycle.

I was wishfully hoping for a single coat of primer and a single coat of paint to complete the job. In reality it took a layer of primer, two layers of paint, and two more quick layers of paint. Once everything was dry and re-installed, I continued to touch up any spots I could see.

Once all the cabinets were painted, I had hubby help me place the new cabinets on top of the original ones. We removed the molding from the top of the original cabinets, and calked the seam. We then reinstalled the molding along the top of the new cabinets. The cabinets were secured by screwing the backs into studs in the wall.

This process also allowed me to clean the inside of my cabinets, put liners on every shelf, and reorganize everything. It felt great to move back in and donate a 1/3 of the items we were previously storing in our tiny space.

Although the lighting is terrible in this picture, I felt it really showed the additional storage space we were able to achieve. We may not have a brand new, top of the line, modern kitchen, but it aligns much better with my aesthetic and storage needs.

It’s amazing how much brighter our kitchen feels with the white cabinets. We already get a lot of light in there, especially in the morning, but something about the white makes it feel more airy and larger.

I no longer have to stare at piles of dry food and Costco size oil, plastic wrap, and dog treats on top of my refrigerator and cabinets. I love the clean look.

In addition to refinishing the cabinets, I also decided to ditch my old stainless steel knobs for something a little more artsy. I cleaned out Anthropologie’s sale knobs during one of their additional 30% of sale item deals, and ended up with an assortment of knobs. While they are all different, there is some reasoning to it. All the cabinet doors have clear glass knobs, some with hints of white, silver, and different shapes. All of the drawer knobs are a round, ceramic design with gold, silver, and white patterns. I love that not everything matches.

It didn’t take long for my perfectly clean and organized kitchen to start resembling it’s old self with stains, drying dishes, and clutter. But, overall we have maintained the organization and nothing has found it’s way back to the top of the fridge or cabinets. At this point, we are back to full capacity in our kitchen, it’s organized, but there is no extra space. And of course, as it is with all projects, as soon as you fix one thing another issue becomes apparent. Now I realize how much I hate our kitchen tile, not only because of all the cracks and holes that have developed over the years, but also because hardwood would look so much nicer next to my white cabinets.

Perhaps the next step will be the home expansion I have been dreaming about for the last couple of years.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help me spread the word about DIY, craft projects, and all things art by sharing on your social media site of choice. Help me fundraise for my home renovation by checking out my TPT store here and my Etsy shop here.

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Visual Journal Page 22: The Fall & Visual Journal Page 23: Ouch

This visual journal page was created to represent my clumsiness. Not only am I clumsy, but I also bruise easily, which means I am in a constant state of being covered with bumps, scratches, and lovely shades of purples, yellows, and blues. I don’t think I ever quite grew into myself, my limbs still feel like they are longer than they should be.

Specifically, this page is meant to represent a particular incident of clumsiness, a tumble down the stairs. When I move from point a to point b my goal is to move as quickly as possible without breaking into a run. My fast walking combined with my long legs makes it look like I’m always in a rush. The same is applied when I am going up and down stairs. I don’t take them one at a time, carefully watching my step, I generally jog up and jog down. I blame my need for speed on my father who was the type to wait in the car, with the car running, until everyone finally piled in to leave. I always felt rushed, and that has continued into my adult life.

95% of the time my jog up, jog down stair taking is successful. However, the remaining 5% of the time means I miss a step or slip on a step either falling up, or falling down the stairs. On this particular day I hit a step heading down, my foot slipped out from under me, and down I went.

Unfortunately, the slip happened towards the top of the stairs, so I had a long way to go to reach the bottom. It felt like a cartoon, my butt hit the next step, and there was no going back. I literally slide down the stairs until something stopped by downward fall, which happened to be the side table next to my front door.

My next visual journal page represents my husband’s point of view. He was sitting on our sofa, watching TV, minding his own business, when all of the sudden I came tumbling down. All he heard was bam, bam, bam, bam, as my various body parts hit step after step, followed by a final smash as I collided with our red side table. The commotion was followed by back and forth rock of the table as it tried to rebalance after my collision.

I had to lay there for just a minute to allow my brain to catch up to the events and my body to recover. My big toe made contact with the table first, and absorbed the weight that followed behind it. It caused a bruised toe and cracked nail. My right arm made the first, and only, attempt, and fail, to break my fall and stop the ensuing events. That resulted in a big bruise on my forearm. After the tumble and a moment of recovery, I couldn’t help but laugh at myself. I could be so careless and I had no one to blame but myself.

Despite the sequence of events you can still find me jogging up and down stairs and falling 5% of the time.

SUPPLIES

  • Visual Journal
  • Rubber cement
  • Pencil
  • Gesso
  • Paint brush
  • Water
  • Charcoal
  • Charcoal pencil
  • Pastels
  • Red acrylic paint
  • Book Pages
  • Laser printed images of table
  • Packaging tape
  • Scissors
  • Sharpie

HOW TO

To create these two visual journal pages I wanted to create two very different looks. I wanted the actual fall to look dark and more serious. For the aftermath, I wanted it to look as silly as I felt. I started with the fall page and decided early on to shade on top of a gesso base. Since gesso is a wet material, I opted to rip two pages from my book so I could work on them without the risk of the gesso bleeding through to other pages.

I sketched out the design first using pencil. My staircase at home is simple and straight, but I wanted to create a more dramatic effect so I opted to exaggerate the style. I sketched out the twisting staircase, and centered the final set of stairs between the two pages. To the left of the stairs I drew out my right hand and right foot, to show my injuries. Once I had the base sketches ready, I added water to my gesso, to make it more transparent, and filled in the shapes.

Once the gesso dried I began pulling out details using the charcoal pencil. I added purple and brown pastels to create shadows on the stairs and the bruise on my arm and toe. I added black charcoal around the staircase to make it pop. To create a blended look with the charcoal I colored more heavily at the edge of the stairs, then used my finger and a paper towel to blend the charcoal away from the steps and into the background. I continued to build up details with the charcoal pencil and push my shadows with the pastel and black charcoal.

Once I finished shading I painted my toe nails bright red using red acrylic paint. I liked the sudden pop of color and it created a great attention grabber. I used a thin brush and gesso to add the crack in my toenail.

Once the page was finished I sprayed it with fixative, to prevent the charcoal from smudging, and glued it on top of pages still attached in my visual journal book.

For the second page I wanted a more playful look and I wanted to create a sense of movement in the table. I decided to create 5 packaging tape transfers of the same image of my side table, then overlap them to make it look like it was moving. To do this, I printed 5 copies of the table on a laser printer. I taped clear packaging tape to the front of the pictures, then cut out the table. I then ran the cut outs under water until the paper started to separate from the tape. I carefully rubbed the paper off using my fingertips until only the ink from the printed image was left on the tape. I dried it off using paper towels and set them aside.

I decided to use book pages from two different books to create a space for the table to sit in. I used the lighter, wider book pages first and glued them to the center of my visual journal page using rubber cement. I then layered two smaller, darker book pages in the center of the ones I just glued and also glued them down with rubber cement. Next, I placed my table packaging tape image transfers on the right side of the book spread. I used Elmer’s glue to glue them in place, the chemicals in rubber cement will cause the tape to ripple.

Next, I decided to add another thin bar of the light and dark book pages to the top and write “bam, bam, bam” in Sharpie across it. To balance the layout I added one small section of layered book pages to the right page below the table and wrote “ouch” in black Sharpie.

Interested in teaching visual journals to your students? Check out my visual journal lesson plan here and bundle pack here.

CHALLENGE

Create a visual journal page about an unfortunate accident.

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

Visual Journal Page 20: Breathe In, Breathe Out

There are many nights I lay in bed, my body exhausted, eyes heavy, and mind racing. The endless to do list scrolls through, the what did I forgets start haunting, the stress from the day just can’t seem to find a way to subside.

When I first started teaching I had many restless nights. Fear kept me awake. Fear of what the next day would bring. Fear of sleeping in. Fear of not being prepared. Fear of forgetting something. Fear of failure. Fear of my students. Many days I felt like a hoax. I had no idea what I was doing. That year, everyday was the first day for me.

My first year anxieties lessened with each passing year. I learned a lot, found projects that were reliable, and developed systems for handling my students. As my stress levels were reduced, my nights of sleep got better. However, I would still periodically have those moments where I would lay in bed, stuck in limbo, unable to pass into sleep or wake up enough to do something else. In those moments I fall back on my old restless night strategies. I would lay still and focus on my lungs. As I would breathe in I would feel my lungs expand to capacity. I would imagine the folds filling out and pressing into my other organs as they expanded. I would breathe out. My lungs would slowly collapse pushing all air out, until they were tiny, limp, and deflated. I would repeat this until I finally drifted beyond the middle into sleep.

This method has helped me through many of my most restless nights. It’s my off button for my brain. A simple strategy to put focus on my most basic body function, breathe in… breathe out…

SUPPLIES

  • Visual journal
  • Scissors
  • Rubber cement
  • Black bleeding tissue paper
  • Gesso
  • Paint brush
  • Water
  • Sharpie
  • Old book pages

HOW TO

This is one of those visual journal pages that was fairly simple to create, but had a lot of impact once it was finished. It was also one of those pages that I visualized in my head before starting and it came out just as I expected, if not better, which rarely happens.

I knew I wanted to create an image of a lung. I started this journal page by looking up medical drawings of lungs to reference. I wanted to make sure it was accurate. Once I settled on an image I began thinking about the look. I had recently completed a page about a black widow (check it out here) where I used black bleeding tissue paper and gesso. I loved the look the wet gesso created on the paper. A red hue would bleed into the white gesso from the black tissue paper. I decided this would be a good material to use for this visual journal page as well.

Once I had my image, a sheet of black tissue paper, paintbrush, and gesso, I was ready. I freehanded the painting of the lungs. I started with a loose outline of the shape and went into the bigger sections first, which was the white block in the heart that expanded to the veins in the lungs. I carefully planned around sections that needed to stay black and moved from one area to the next. For the arteries of the heart I used curved lines to show the shape and to give it texture to separate it from everything else. I liked the look of the lines and decided to carry them into the spaces between the veins in the lungs to fill out the shape. I mimicked the circular tissue pattern from the original image into my painting as I moved to the bottom of the lungs. To define the esophagus I used short, hatch lines, that also curved along the contour of the shape. I decided to make it longer than I needed, just to make sure it filled the page.

As I painted each section, the color from the bleeding tissue paper would bleed into the white. I loved the look it created, it added much more interest to the color than a stark white. Once the painting was dry, I cut the shape out of the rectangular bleeding tissue paper sheet. I carefully glued it into my visual journal using rubber cement and trimmed off the excess esophagus.

I overlapped sheets of old and discolored book pages to the top with ripped out pieces of black bleeding tissue paper on top. This tied the top section to my lungs visually, while also giving me a space to write words. Even with the detailed painting, I still felt the background was lacking. I decided to cut out rounded shapes from the book pages to mimic the shape of the lungs and create a sense of movement. I glued them into the background, which helped further tie the book pages into the entire piece.

Last, but not least, I used gesso to paint the words “breathe in… breathe out…” over the ripped up tissue paper. In the sections where the words extended beyond the bleeding tissue paper, I went over the letters with black sharpie to help them stand out.

CHALLENGE

Create a visual journal page about your method to falling asleep.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help me spread the word about visual journals by following and sharing with others on your social media site of choice.Interested in teaching visual journals to your students? Check out my visual journal lesson plan here and bundle pack here. Thanks for stopping by!

Visual Journal Page 19: Fancy Days

visual-journal-page-19-fancy-days

This visual journal page was inspired by an image. It’s hard to remember exactly where I first discovered this, but I know it must have been from one of the many art school catalogues that arrive in my school mailbox at least weekly. While I tire of constantly throwing out half the items that find their way into my box, I never tire of looking through student artwork.

This woman in her fancy dress is an example of one of the many moments I have as I flip through these magazines. I’m always so impressed with the range of style, level of talent, and crazy creativity people have. These college art catalogues are put together to show the wide range of talent they attract, so you get a piece of each department. An illustration here, a graphic design there, an oil painting in between. So many of these images pique my interest and pull on my heartstrings. When I have a moment with one I carefully tear out the page, and stow it away in my visual journal folder.

This image sat in my folder for a long time. It took awhile to find a purpose for it. I knew I loved the image, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why it appealed to me so much. One day, while in a visual journal idea slump, I flipped back through my saved images, and had another moment while looking at this one. I loved the petal dress that transformed from flower to traditional dress to flower again. And what an absurd, yet beautiful, neck adornment. It took me back to my childhood. To my constant wish to live in the “olden days” so I had a reason to where outrageously puffy dresses everyday. Even as an adult I love the special occasions that call for fancy dresses. Although my preferred daily attire are jeans or pajamas, some days just need to be fancy days.

SUPPLIES

  • Visual journal
  • Rubber cement or Mod Podge
  • Magazine cut outs
  • Xacto knife
  • Scissors
  • Book pages
  • Packaging tape
  • Newspaper

HOW TO

To create this visual journal page I started with the original image of the girl. I cut out it out, and glued it to the right side page. I wanted to emphasize the image, so I cut the yellow pattern background of the original image into strips that went along the contour of the image. I glued those down using rubber cement.

On the left hand page I decided to write the sentence: “some days just need to be fancy days.” I wanted to mimic the over the top, decorative style of the dress in the text, so I typed the sentence into a Word document, and choose the frilliest, fanciest font I could find. I printed the text, and carefully cut it out using a combination of scissors and an Xacto knife.

Rather than glue the text down and be done with it, I decided to create a equally decorative page on the left side of my visual journal spread. I ripped out and glued down a strip of lighter book page paper in the center of the left page. I ripped out a page from the actual visual journal book, tore it into two strips, and glued them down on either side of the lighter book page. I then created newspaper tape transfers by taking a piece of packaging tape, sticking it to newspaper, and pulling the tape back up. The ink from the newsprint stuck to the tape, and I then taped them down around the lighter center strip of book page paper.

Next, I glued a thin strip of darker brown, older book page paper in the middle of the center strip. I emphasized various areas with small pieces of the old book pages. I then used more of the yellow, pattern background of the original image to create a scalloped pattern around the strips of book page paper. Last but not least I glued the text on top of the center section of the left page.

Interested in teaching visual journals to your students? Check out my visual journal lesson plan here and bundle pack here.

CHALLENGE

Flip through a magazine and rip out the image that you find most interesting. Create a visual journal page about it.

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