As the end of spring draws near…

…so do the numerous sightings of beautiful butterflies.  I don’t know why it’s so much fun for little kids to trace their hands or feet, but for today’s Throwback Thursday, I want to share a two-part art project that I made in kindergarten:  Feet Butterflies.

I still remember when Mrs. Cook traced my little feet to make this project.  I have no idea why we were only allowed to use four construction paper dots on the toes instead of five.  But I loved using glitter and glue, and I especially loved getting to use sequins as eyes!

I wonder if anyone else that was in my kindergarten class still has any of their Mrs. Cook projects?  I wonder if Mrs. Cook had any idea that decades later, the fun projects she helped create would not only still be preserved, but then posted on a forum where the entire world could see them?

Let this be a lesson to you teachers out there in Blogland…  You make more of a difference to the kids you teach than you may realize.  And also, thirty or forty years from now, there’s no telling what kind of advances in technology there may be…  For all you know, one of your students just might be showcasing a project you helped them with… on the moon!

Time to talk:  What’s the oldest school paper or project you or your parents have saved?  What grade were you in when you had your favorite teacher?  Are there butterflies still prevalent in your neck of the woods?

What Makes Me Smile…

For today’s Throwback Thursday, I’m going to share a photo that always brings a smile to my face.  As a professional photographer, I always get a kick out of those Facebook posts where adult siblings have recreated their childhood photos into a calendar for their parents (such as in the following links):

I always wish (out loud) that my kids would be inspired to do the same for me, but alas, they just aren’t that thoughtful.  *SIGH*

Anyway, one of my favorite photos of my son when he was little was one Easter morning when the Easter Bunny brought him a straw that was in the shape of eye glasses.  About ten years later, the Easter Bunny found a similar straw, and I was able to get the same photo again.  Now I can love it twice as much.  I hope the Easter Bunny is able to find this straw again by the time Jeremy nears the end of his twenties.  (Now, if only I can get my kids together to pose for eleven more photos, I can finally have that damn calendar!)

Time to talk:  Have you ever recreated a childhood photo?  Have you ever made your kids recreate a childhood photo?  Would you, too, love a calendar of recreated photos from your children’s youth?

All in all it’s just another brick in the…. closet door?

For today’s Throwback Thursday, I’ll share with you one of the ways I used to exercise my creativity besides writing.  When I was fourteen, I loved the band Pink Floyd.  My favorite Pink Floyd album was “The Wall,” not necessarily because of the music, but I think because of the amazing double album cover art inside.

Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” cover art

As I’ve shared before, my grandparents raised me, and they were excessively strict when it came to the matter of me socializing with other people.  But when I asked my Granddaddy if I could paint The Wall on my double closet doors, he was more than happy to comply.  (Looking back, I now realize that was because he knew it would take me months to complete, and in that time, I’d be happy to stay home rather than asking constantly to go hang out with my friends.)

I started in June of that year, and didn’t finish until December.  It was not the easiest painting to replicate because my doors were different dimensions than a double album cover, and they also had panels in the middle that weren’t flat.

At any rate, at least once every couple of days, I had to walk to the art store to buy more acrylic paint.  (All told, I used over fifty bottles!)  But I always went straight home afterward and painted until bedtime.  (See, Granddaddy was right!)

About three years later, I really wasn’t much into Pink Floyd any longer, but I still planned on keeping my doors as they were the largest art project I’d ever done at the time.  However, when my daughter was small, my Grandma was babysitting her once and allowed her to scribble all over them.  And a few years later when my birth mom moved in with my Grandma, she painted over them without first asking me if I cared to keep them!  Regrettably, I only have one photo of my masterpiece, and that photo is grainy and has a glare.

MY Pink Floyd “The Wall” replica art closet

Time to talk:  What’s the largest art project you’ve ever undertaken?  Would you allow your child to paint a picture on their bedroom wall or door?  What’s your favorite Pink Floyd song?

Remember when I wasn’t Martha Stewart?

For today’s Throwback Thursday, I’ll be giving you a follow-up to my post last year when I told you how I was no Martha Stewart and I shared some photos with you of previous years’ Thanksgiving name cards that I made for my guests.  I couldn’t share the ones I made in 2014 because my guests hadn’t seen them yet.

I was actually just going through my point and shoot camera the other day, and realized I still had the photos on there to show you later.  (Being as I typically use my studio camera, I tend to forget that I even have a point and shoot sometimes.)

Anyway, this is the little turkey that saved my seat at Thanksgiving.  This was the first time I ever used a pre-fab kit to make the place cards rather than making them from scratch, but I found myself running out of time as the big day approached.

Immediately following Thanksgiving dinner, Jeremy’s turkey fell to the ground, and our cat Dakota got hold of it.  By the time we rescued it, it looked almost as bad as a real Thanksgiving turkey after it had already been carved and picked down to the bones!

Let’s chat:  How early do you start planning for your holiday meals and guests?  Other than Thanksgiving and Christmas, what other large meals do you plan in advance?  Do you photograph funny things that your pets do to things around your house?  (That last question applies to everyone except my good buddy Mark Bialczak… I already know that he makes a very cool photographic anthology of his sweet dog Ellie B’s collections of things she shouldn’t have.)

It’s that time again…

Believe it or not, I’m not really into prairie living, but because I have so many allergies and intolerances, I have to do a lot of cooking at home.  Another thing I make at home is laundry soap as well as body and hand soap.  Usually when I make either of these, I like to make enough to last for several months so that I only have to do it a couple of times a year.  This weekend, I made the first batch of body and hand soap.

Step One: Gather your oils and ingredients.

If you’re not familiar with the soap-making process, basically, you mix various oils with lye and heat it.  It’s actually a bit more complicated than that, and everything has to be measured precisely by weight on a digital scale.  There has to be a certain percentage of each type of oil to get the desired results, such as how hard you want the soap to be, how sudsy it will get, how moisturizing it will be, etc.  I like to add cocoa butter and shea butter as well as goat’s milk because these all add extra moisture.  Castor oil and coconut oil add for extra cleansing, and olive oil and almond oil add extra creaminess.

Step Two: Mix the lye water with the heated oils.

After the oil-lye mixture has cooked for the appropriate amount of time (around four hours), I add essential oil to make it smell pretty then pour it in a mold.  Because I use hot process (meaning I cook it), I can unmold it the next day and use it soon thereafter.  If I used the cold process method, it would be more “liquidy” and I could pour it in pretty shaped molds.  But then it would take weeks to “saponify” meaning for the lye to have a chemical reaction with the oil and not be caustic any longer.

Step Three: Cook it for a really long time.

This time, I made gardenia soap.  Later this week, I’ll be making a batch of lavender to which I’ll add some dried lavender buds to make it pretty, as well as some honey-oat-almond, which will smell like almond, and have honey as well as ground oats in it for extra exfoliation.  I actually prefer to use this oat soap in the kitchen because it smells so much like food!

Step Four: Pour it into a mold and let it harden overnight, then slice.

You can buy homemade soaps all over the place these days, as they are increasingly popular.  I did that for a few years, but they used fragrance oil rather than essential oil to keep their costs down, and I became allergic to the perfume in the fragrance.

Step Five: Enjoy!

If you’ve never used homemade soap before, let me tell you that once you do, you’ll never want to use store bought soap again.  The first time you use homemade, it feels like you just washed ten years of yuck off your skin! You’ll also realize after that, store bought soap actually feels slimy in comparison.  Your skin will be softer, your shave will be closer, and you’ll feel the cleanest you’ve ever felt.

Time to talk:  Have you ever used homemade soap?  Do you have any allergies?  Would you use soap with ground oats or lavender buds inside?

The Luck O’ the Irish

For today’s Throwback Thursday, I have yet another one of my kindergarten projects to showcase.  (My kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Cook, loved to keep us busy with art projects, which is why I think I loved her so much.)

First of all, you’ll notice this is printed on the old school “ditto” paper, which you can tell because of the purple ink (which always smelled so awful to me!).  And while it might look like I got lazy with the assignment, that is not the case.  We were supposed to paint a green “wash” over the entire page, though I’m not entirely sure why.  (It seems to me that if we would have perhaps first colored with a white crayon of a piece of wax, that would’ve made more sense because it would have been like Easter Egg art.)  At any rate, it was a very thin, watery paint, and at first, I didn’t use enough.  So Mrs. Cook held my hand in hers and dipped my brush in the green water, then helped me paint the entire page.

Of all my works that my Grandma threw out over the years, I have no idea why she felt that this one was a keeper.

Let’s talk:  Did your mom ever keep an absolutely stupid piece of work you did?  Did you ever have to complete what seemed like a pointless assignment?  Did you like the smell of ditto paper?

More Mixed Media Art

For today’s Throwback Thursday, I submit for your approval, another month-themed mixed media collage I made in kindergarten.  My kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Cook, would roll over in her grave if she realized just how much impact she had on me.  I loved her so much!

For March that year, as you can see, we learned that the first telephone call was transmitted on the tenth of the month in 1876.  As you can see by my purple crayon drawing of a phone, I am old enough that phones had dials rather than buttons when I was little.

St. Patrick’s Day was of course on the seventeenth.  I don’t quite remember, but I’m pretty positive that Mrs. Cook actually cut out the leprechaun I have glued here.  However, it never occurred to me before now, but I wonder why one of his arms is so much longer than the other!

You can see I had trouble with my twos and my fives.  I don’t think we were actually supposed to write these, but I was just showing off what a smart little four-year old I was. HA!

You probably can’t tell, but the tulip in the middle is made of crumbled blue tissue paper.

Spring of course started on the twenty-first that year, and you can probably already tell that my favorite colors were purple and red.

And finally, we come to Easter which was on the thirtieth that year.  My sad little bunny lost one of his ears being packed in the heat of my Grandma’s attic all these years.  I don’t know if you can tell, but his head is actually made out of a Styrofoam circle that they used to use before “packing peanuts” came along.  (Man, am I old!)

So there we have it…  my kindergarten March lesson.  Mrs. Cook also always used to say, “March blows in like a lion and out like a lamb,” so I’m rather surprised I don’t have either a lion or a lamb on here.

Let’s talk:  What historical fact most sticks in your mind about March?  Did you love your kindergarten teacher?  What was your favorite subject in school?

Walking Through February

For today’s Throwback Thursday, I submit for your approval, a piece of mixed media art created by me when I was five years old and in kindergarten.  As you can see here, several milestones in February are represented.  In the corners, we have crayon-colored hearts for Valentine’s Day on the fourteenth.  On the left, we have a hand drawn light bulb for Thomas Edison’s birthday on the eleventh.  In the top center, we have a cut-out twig from a cherry tree, a flag sticker, and a cut-out picture of George Washington’s head for his birthday, also on the eleventh (though 116 years before Thomas Edison’s).  There is also apparently some debate as to whether it is really on the eleventh or the twenty-second.  And at the bottom, we have a log cabin made of corrugated paper, some boot prints made with marker, and some pencil rubbings of Abraham Lincoln’s head on a penny to represent his birthday on the twelfth.

As you can see, back then in school, we used that incredibly thin manila paper that really wasn’t suitable for drawing or coloring projects that we may have wanted to keep, and my project didn’t fare well being stored in my grandma’s hot attic for decades.  Now, it’s brittle and torn.

So there you have it:  an ancient piece of art by yours, truly.

Let’s talk:  Do you have any of your own art made in kindergarten?  Did your kindergarten teacher teach you about what special dates came each month and then have you do an art project to commemorate them?  Do you feel that you were taught more in kindergarten than kids in kindergarten are taught these days?

Oh, Christmas Tree, Oh, Christmas Tree

For today’s Throwback Thursday, I present to you a piece of art I made in kindergarten.  I have absolutely NO IDEA what those two tall, purple presents are on each side.  (Golf clubs, perhaps?)  Have a Merry Christmas, friends!

You want to talk?  Tell me, what are you doing today?  Are you with family or friends?  Is there anything special on the menu?