Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Pondering My Universe

Balance. I once read or heard that balance in your life is more like keeping a pile of tennis balls on a tennis racket rather than juggling, because in juggling you are throwing and catching and only holding them for a short while where as keeping balls on a racket involves careful attention focused on each ball as they are all in your grasp.

I often think of this analogy but find it difficult to find a direct connection and application to my daily feelings of being overwhelmed. Perhaps it is because I am unable to contain all that I am trying to balance in neat little tennis balls. All the tasks that need completing, issues that need resolution, and activities I am involved in are not neat little spheres that I simply need to balance on a tennis racket (not like that is easy to begin with). All the things I need to balance are more like little terrors. They are alive, always finding ways to get more complicated, and do not like to hear "no." So really I am trying to balance a pile of monkeys on a tennis racket!

Yes, I like that. Monkeys or perhaps some creepy bugs too. All the aspects of my busy, overflowing life need to be put in their place...spheres. Spheres are bad enough anyway because they roll! If rolling were my only issue, rather than the current screeching, climbing, and monstrous behaviors of these things I try to accomplish, I think I could handle balancing it all on a tennis racket.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Getting Gothic on Halloween

I have been steadily chipping away at my grand plans for a Gothic/Poe, slightly creepy bathroom. My goal was to finish by halloween, but that is not the case (this will have to do for GPP Street Team Crusade #13). There are some small decorating details that need to happen and the sink and faucet on the vanity must be replaced still. I found an old marble vanity top that fits perfectly and went ahead and bought exactly what I wanted for an undermount sink and faucet. That's all I will say for now...wait in anticipation for the final post.

Much progress had been made since I last posted pics of my materials and some shots of the metalic paint.

The light fixture is by Meyda from their Mica Missions Collection. I wanted a dimmer and orangy glow and that is what I got.

The paint is a Ralph Lauren metallic in Thatcher Green. I matched it with an overall bronze-brown color to match oil-rubbed bronze fixtures that are planned but not in yet.

The birds are the Poe thread in the gothic, slightly creepy theme. Two little black birds cling to the vine-like metal votive holder on the wall and a big black crow stands currently on the back of the toilet.

The key on the back of the toilet was a perfect find! Etsy Storque featured Vital Industries with their toilet decals and I knew I had found another luxurious necessity for the room. I messaged the shop owners and in the end they designed the skeleton key decal for my room specifically, although now the key is available in their store.

Among the materials I laid out last post was lace and a shower curtain. I tea-dyed the lace and then stitched it all onto the shower curtain with turquoise top-stitching. It is splendid!

For window treatments I went with a ricepaper shade layered with a section of brown silky fabric that I raggedly nailed into the woodwork with big, old-fashion nails you find in general stores or Old Sturbridge Village. I tugged at some of the stray threads to make it a tad more ragged.

Here are my birds in more detail. The big crow is sitting on a stack of books (Poe & Dickinson). I want to put her on a shelf at some point. I made her a pearl and skeleton key necklace on satin ribbon to give her a little more humor. When the crow was first in the bathroom it gave both my husband and I momentary heart failure despite having put her there.

And what would a creepy bathroom be without a mirror self-portrait?

When the other major pieces come together I will do a final post. And then there will be other rooms in the house...

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

School, Art, and the Inbetween

My last 2 weeks: (in no particular or cause and effect order)
Shelter building, essays, globe lab, sparking more interest in rock climbing, new routes, knives, expullsion, worry about students, simplifying my goals, frustration, whining, working my butt off on field trip, always the complaining, feeling used, no new shirts, just 3 days with kids this week, dancing with a giant puffy globe, caving soon...but I can't really remember what I did in class 2 weeks ago. If I don't remember, why should the kids?

BUT I have made progress on the bathroom. More on that is good and creepy and will make a great halloween post. Until the cute kids are knocking on my door...goodnight.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Bluebird Sewanee

This is a beautiful film collage my cousin made as part of a class. It makes me smile and feel contented. It also makes me long for the new life and hope of the spring season. It will come fast enough...and a lot of other beautiful weather before then. Take a minute to see how cute and pretty it is!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

a Hint of Bath

Spent some of this weekend working on my gothic/Poe themed bathroom. I'm very excited about it. Here are some sneak previews of the work.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Finally in the middle of the moving, renovation, and starting school year I got the b+j greene Etsy store up and running. I will be adding new things soon...including some furniture! Thank you to my models for helping me get the photos to show everyone how wonderful the shirts are!

Brief note about school...took the kids outside for the first time today. So much smoother than last year, of course. It is so nice to see the kids who hate school loving being outside and actually participating. We found Black moment of the day was seeing kids in the hall chewing on branches and showing their friends that is smells and tastes like root beer. I hold those memories close to my heart. There have been many moments to keep me going this week...which has been very needed. I am already over tired. But tons of interest in Outdoor Club...Monday should be a crazy day at our first meeting. Goal: weed out the girls who wear mini skirts to school; either they will love it or run away screaming from bugs.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Fresh Start

At the beginning of school last year my approach to my job was "Middle school students can accomplish more than people expect them to and if you just hold them to a higher standard and explain things well they can complete any task." That was my attitude. Not quite sure where it came from (maybe because my top strength according to Gallup is Achieve). That attitude combine with the demanding, intense, and negative voices around me telling me to command the respect of my students and be strict led to a rather disastrous beginning to last year. Adding to it also was the constant feeling of being completely overwhelmed. The whole beginning of last year felt like and remains in my memory as a blur of demands put upon me by myself.

In comparison, these last few days have been wonderful. No problems, no reason to yell, no frustration with students, no throwing, and no animal noises resulting in my room becoming a zoo. It is Day 4 of teaching and I know all first names and about half of students' last names. I know more about my students now than I did at the end of September last year. I have taken the time to enter the year by getting to know my students and spending much more time building community and reinforcing that I want to have a positive relationship with them. I have intentionally had good conversations and very positive interactions with all students who have a history of being disruptive or violent. I surveyed my students and their parents and my aide helped me organize them all into a binder, so I have 200 pieces of data on who my kids are and what makes them tick. Today I already had students turning in BeDe cards early. They are awesome. Tomorrow I will have 100 4"x6" pieces of art to hang on my wall. This year at open house I will know exactly whose parents I am talking to. And my SmartBoard and I are bonding wonderfully.

I am pretty sure my first class of the day is willing to do anything I ask them to. It is a nice way to start the day. My students just finished their Hopes and Dreams for the year. I have 100 sincere desires to be better, do better, live better, play better, and be prepared for the road ahead. As Barbara says, I hold hope for them. Some of their hopes are so fragile because they are already tired in life. Some of my students are one fight, one F, one negative comment, or one loss away from crumbling. But we are off to a great start. They are smiling as I smile at them and believing in themselves, some tentatively but they are. I know we will have our days in the 175 that are left, but I am proud and excited to start this way with the class they warned us was challenging.

Last year there were times I felt like I had turned my back on the teacher I had always wanted to be. I felt I had absorbed all the monstrous qualities displayed around me. But I think the summer did me good because this year I feel like I am well on my way to creating the classroom I have always envisioned -- the classroom that really reflects my philosophy of education.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

A Little Before and After

The house is still in progress but these represent our hard work so far.

Kitchen Before

Kitchen after...but still in progress.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The All-Consuming House

Not much time for blogger this week. I've been playing with my wrecking bar!

Monday, August 13, 2007

And the Winner is...

The winner of my shirt giveaway during ArtsyMama's Artful Blogging Party is


Thank you to everyone who commented on my tutorial. It was very uplifting, especially those who said they look forward to my Etsy store. I hope to have shirts listed by the end of the week! I will keep you posted!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Kayaking, Eating, Swimming, and Sleeping

I am headed off to the Cape for the weekend, but before I go I wanted to share a few photos (to start) from my kayaking trip last week. My sis-in-law and I went to Lake Champlain and island hopped. It was fabulous and very relaxing. We didn't do much more than kayaking, eat, sleep, swim, repeat.

I fell in love with this tree. It will probably make it onto a future shirt.

Julie is always up for a challenge, which the wind provided.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

July Hometown Swap

Finally getting back to posting about the July Create a Connection Swap, which was all about your hometown.

This is the lovely box I received from Kelly. All about her hometown of LONDON! Very fun. Love the pop song mix. :-) Thanks, Kelly!

And this is the altered book I made for Nina about my hometown of the Pioneer Valley in Masschusetts. She posted about it on her blog too.

And a slideshow of the detail pics. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Artful Blogging Party & Giveaway!

Kari is hosting a fabulous blog party over at The party is to celebrate the new Somerset Special Publication Artful Blogging, so the theme is crafty tutorials and posts. So I decided to show a little about my thought process in how I make the shirts that have become a hot seller here in the Pioneer Valley.

My husband and I order the shirts wholesale through American Apparel (sweatshop-free!) and then embellish them. I love this shirt and so do all the customers. It is flattering on just about everyone.

This shirt was first screened. We either screen or stencil depending on how complicated the design is. All of our images come from photographs taken by us and then made into either a screen or stencil. Making screens and stencils is a little complicated to describe so I won't go into it now but there are TONS of tutorials online for you to have fun with. In brief, we specifically use the Live Trace function in InDesign CS2 to make the photos into the silhouette form you see. Then we may change it around and clean it up on Photoshop.

This shows the screen used next to the image it produces. We use Speedball screenprinting ink for our screening and stenciling.

And up close of the emulsion on the screen.

On this shirt I decided to do a decorative top stitch on the sleeve. I love this sparkling metallic thread but it breaks a lot in the machine so a sleeve is a small safe distance to go without the thread snapping!

Machine setting...on stretch it makes a cool vine-like pattern. In the future I would love a machine that does a bunch of decorative stitches, but I like this one a lot.

The subtle glistening on the 3/4 length sleeve.

Another popular embellishment I like to add is sequins. I really go for a subtle but very intentional attention to detail.

My goal is to make it look like a fairy has sprinkled pixie dust on the wearer's shoulder. If the sequins are on the back of the shoulder I add one sequin just over the front of the shoulder so you get a glimpse of it from the front (and vice versa).

The final product.

It is all very subtle which makes it not flashy but special and fun. Between the details and the fit of the shirts, I am told they are much loved by customers. Soon they will be available on Etsy! (I have been tearing out ceilings and cabinets at the new house, so I will hopefully get to Etsy in the next week!)

These are the tags that adorn the shirts...just a little added bonus for the customer!

And the GIVEAWAY...leave a comment on this post by the end of Friday and I will pull one name to receive this SHIRT (or one like it in your size, of course!). Good luck and thanks for checking it out!

Thank you Kari for hosting this amazing party! You rock!