Sunday, December 8, 2013

Winter Mantle Update and Metal Ladder Upcycle

Although this weekend was busy and hectic, I was able to change some of our fall decorations over to winter ones.  The first part of the decor that I changed was the metal gutter than we put on the mantle.  Remember how we decorated it for fall?

Here is the updated winter version!

To update this I was able to use a lot of the same materials.  I kept the moss (I actually added a little more,) the twigs, the brown wicker balls, the burlap, pinecones, and deer sheds.  Basically, I took out anything orange, red, or yellow, tossed out the squash and mini pumpkins that were in there and replaced it with extra moss.  I also added berry sprigs found at Hobby Lobby.  It was actually cheaper to purchase a strand of garland - only about $10 with the 50% off sale they had running - and use VERY sharp kitchen shears to cut the sprigs off the wire garland.  The letters spelling "Merry" are just 99 cent chip board letters found in the scrapbooking section of Hobby Lobby.  I didn't even paint them because I liked their original color!

Here's a little bit more of a close-up so you can see what's going on in the gutter. 
This weekend Patrick and I also scored a pretty amazing find at the Lucky Star Craft Market in Ames - an old metal farm ladder that had been cut down to be about 4 feet tall.  $28 later and we have a rustic little place to hang our blankets - a nice way to cozy up the living room for winter. 

Hope you're staying warm and cozy!  It's been snowing all day in Iowa!  Looks like we'll have some shoveling to do this evening! 

Balayage on Short Hair? What You Should Know.

So, as my last post explained, I've been growing my hair out from a pixie cut for the last year.  I've spent a TON of time on Pinterest drooling over the cute balayage/ombre color styles, but thought my hair was far too short to try the style - UNTIL I went with a friend to an Aveda open house in Des Moines and met a colorist that with chin length hair and gorgeous balayage highlights.  I decided to take the jump and I'm pretty excited that I did.

First, here are some things I learned and you might want to consider -

If your hair is curly or you plan on wearing it curly, the balayage will be a little more broken up and you can likely get away with more drastic balayage without getting that weird spotty or chunky look.

Ask your colorist to make sure the highlights are on the bottom layers, almost a peek-a-boo kind of highlight.  The color should also be "melted," meaning lighter on the ends then blending into your natural color at the top.  You can also get away with more dramatic highlights framing your face than in the back. 

Ask for the color to start at about eye level.  You want a sun-kissed look, not two inches of root grow-out look. 

The lightest color will need to be AT LEAST two shades darker than your base color, otherwise your balayage will not be very noticeable. 

Expect for the color to cost more than average highlights and take a little more time.  Balayage can be more labor intensive than regular foils.  Without dying my hair a base color first, my highlights ended up taking about three hours. 

Here's the end results!  Let me know what you think! 

Growing Out a Pixie Cut

I have a love/hate relationship with my hair, as I'm pretty sure all women do.  Over the past, five years I've bounced around between pixie cuts, inverted bobs, chin-length bobs, and shoulder length cuts - growing it out, chopping it off, and thus repeating the cycle.

Here's a year in review for my hair.  This might serve as a helpful guide for those of you that are trying to grow out a pixie or looking for ideas to style those in-between awkward styles.

I started off with shoulder length hair.  (Long enough to put in a pony tail.)  

At that point I was tired of the daily pull it back in a pony tail routine, so I opted for a long pixie.  The long bangs and hair around the ears ended up driving me nuts because my hair is naturally sort of wavy/curly and needed to be straightened daily.  What I thought would be less work ended up being more work.  

So instead of being patient and letting my hair grow out, I decided to opt for a quick fix and cut it even shorter.  (This is a picture of P and I on the way to a Blackhawks game if you're wondering about the hair accessory.)

Here's a picture of me pouting because I was frustrated with styling my hair.  Now - let me give my disclaimer here.  There have been times that I have had pixie cuts and LOVED them.  I just continually struck out with hair stylists giving me pixies in Tucson.  My hair had grown out slightly here that I could rock a kind of messy, semi-curly look. 
After that we grew into about this lovely awkward stage.  It was REALLY hard to get a straightener to work on hair that short. 

From there I was able to grow my hair over my ears and work toward a bob-esque do. 
Still working toward a bob - finally got my hair over my ears just as we moved back to Iowa. 
Once my hair grew over my ears I was able to start wearing it curly again. 
Finally getting into more of a style!  I was able to have some cute layers put in.  
Long enough to straighten and rock a half-back style with a bit of a french braid. 

... Annnnddd here we are now.  A chin length bob with slightly stacked back and recently added blonde balayage highlights. 
Here's the curly picture of the grown out pixie. 

Hope this gives you a guide to help you grow out your pixie!   Good luck! 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Trash to Decor - Metal Gutter Fall Mantle Decor

Remember how I was going to blog before Thanksgiving?  Well, clearly that didn't happen, but hey!  At least I was close! 

Even though it's a little late, I couldn't resist sharing some cute fall decorating inspiration. 

Before the Thanksgiving, about that time when pumpkin flavored everything is on the market and shades of burnt orange, mustard yellow, and cranberry are everywhere, I was looking for something to dress up the top of our fireplace.  WHY was dressing up the fireplace so important?  If you're interested, then read below, if not, skip the next paragraph.... 

Somehow, before, during, or after P and I moved from Tucson to Des Moines, we lost the stand for our TV.  Don't ask me how, but we did.  Since we have a strange little corner fireplace, mounting the TV like we had before just wasn't going to work, plus buying a new stand proved to be expensive and not that easy.  Long story short, we ended up having to mount the TV on one wall with a swivel mount and the arm on the mount just isn't QUITE long enough to allow the TV to sit flush with the front of the fireplace.  Although it will likely annoy me forever, what is a girl to do?  Decorate to detract from the mismatched angles and cover up all of the ugly cords and boxes.  

... Anyway... while searching for a way to decorate the top of our fireplace, I found some inspiration at an adorable little store in Valley Junction called Vintage No. 35.  They simply have the BEST vintage/found
object/reworked junk pieces you can find.  While I was browsing for a few other items there, I noticed that one of their display tables had a gorgeous Thanksgiving set up that used an old metal gutter filled with pumpkins, gourds, and other fall items.  I purchased the gutter and started the quest to find items to fill the gutter to decorate our mantle. 

After some searching, finagling, and fluffing, here is the end product:

I must say that I love the end product.  I can't wait to decorate it for the other seasons.

Some of the items I used to decorate the gutter for fall included -
-a long burlap strip to decorate the front
 -large pinecones
-various gourds and small pumpkins
-small wicker and yarn covered decorative balls
-potpourri from World Market (the Mexican pumpkin had great leaves and berry-like elements)   
-decorative moss from World Market and Hobby Lobby
-various sized sticks and twigs
-deer sheds 

For the banner in front I used 1/4" yellow satin ribbon, small clothespins (can be found at Archiver's or Hobby Lobby - generally in the scrapbooking section), laminated burlap cut into triangles, and a black fabric pen. 

Here are a few more pictures of the finished product:

After adding the deer sheds. 

A close-up of some of the items...

Leaves and gourds galore!

Have some metal gutters laying around that you're inspired to use or do you have some good ideas for the winter decor?  Send your ideas!!! 

Happy Decorating!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

What We've Been Up To

Let's just say that I'm really good at letting everything else get in the way of some leisure time, but I promise P and I are still around exploring our new roots in Des Moines. 

Here's what we've been up to: 

Center Grove Pumpkin Patch

A few weeks ago P, his mom and I had the opportunity to go back to one of my favorite places, Center Grove Orchard to explore their pumpkin patch.  Instead of coming back with just one pumpkin a piece, we might have gone a little crazy... 

Patrick and his mom Patty with their specially selected pumpkins.

The haul of pumpkins we came home with

Huddling behind a haybale.  It might have been a little cold and windy...

Hawkeye Football Game

I will still always have an attachment to Iowa City and a fondness for calling it "home."  I love the fact that it isn't a far trip to meet my parents in Iowa City to watch a game.  Although we were freezing until the sun came out the 4th quarter, we certainly had a lot of fun.  

Herky has a secret - he's Batman...

Free pom poms always make your day a little brighter. 
Freezing at the game and wearing a hand felted flower that I picked up at the Des Moines Farmer's Market.  It might have be a pin, but with a few bobby pins no one ever knew that it wasn't meant to be a hair accessory.

Crafting with Friends

I love the fact that we finally live close enough to our friends and family that we can spend time together again.  My beautiful friend Cindy had the BEST idea of hosting a pumpkin themed craft night.  I might have spent two hours mod podging sequins onto my pumpkin... 

The girls and I before the crafting began. 
Our finished pumpkins.  We clearly like a little sparkle.  
My finished pumpkin. 

Let's see if I can blog proactively before Thanksgiving and Christmas... no promises... :)

"Killer Breakfast" Vampire Doughnut Tutorial

So, clearly this post is a little late, but hey... I've been busy! 

Since I work at a school/ residential treatment facility for adjudicated male youth, the students that I work with don't get to see their families very frequently.  This fact really seems to affect the boys around holidays, so, some of the other staff and I like to do something to make the holidays a little more special. 

First, I do NOT take credit for this idea.  I ran across a picture showing a similar doughnut idea while I was scrolling through Pinterest (as I do more frequently than I would like to admit) posted by a cute little blog called Lovezilla.  Check it out for a billion cute ideas. 

Here's my take on how to make these "killer" little doughnuts. 

-plastic vampire teeth, 1 per doughnut (I purchased mine for 20 cents a piece at a local pop-up Halloween shop) 
-plain M&Ms (I used green and red ones) 
-glazed doughnuts (I picked up a few boxes of the simple glazed yeast doughnuts from Walmart)

Honestly, this is the simplest fun treat you will ever make. 

1. Grab a doughnut
2. Stick some vampire teeth in the hole of the doughnut
3. Add M&M eyeballs
4. Take to your students and enjoy!

Take a peek at how mine turned out!!!

Now, yes... I know I teach students between the ages of 12 and 19, but they still enjoy a little bit of holiday whimsy and a chance to eat some junk food for breakfast. 


Writing and Conducting an Interview - Handout and Lesson Ideas

I have the unique opportunity to be able to teach a Creative Writing class to some students over the lunch block to earn a little additional credit in English/Language Arts.  I like that Creative Writing gives me a broad range of potential teaching topics and allows me to really focus on fun ways I can help my students grow into becoming better writers, but sometimes the vast topic possibilities leave me, well. searching for what to teach next.  

With my school following the Iowa Core (almost identical to the Common Core standards), I felt that it was necessary to address the writing core in my classroom, but speaking and listening core standards as well, thus creating the idea to teach my students how to conduct an appropriate interview.

Let's be real for a second, though  - there are about a million and a half ways that you could frame writing and conducting interviews in a Creative Writing class, but I decided to attempt to make the interview a little more applicable.  That is, I wanted the students to actually be able to interview someone with the intention of gaining knowledge or information about a topic important and beneficial to themselves.  Anyone that has taught teenagers know that whether or not they want to be, there very much are very into themselves, so, I decided to ask my students to create interviews to ask their parents about themselves as part of a memoir unit.

The purpose of the interview was for students to create and conduct appropriate interviews to ask their parents more information about their families, lives, names, or any other topic that the students felt they might be able to include in a short memoir later.  

Once I introduced the topic and began gathering some pre-assessment information, I learned that my students lacked a lot of knowledge about the typical interview process.  I started out by facilitating a conversation about what the students knew about interviews (why we conduct interviews, when interviews are appropriate, what an interview looks like, etc.), then from that conversation we created a list on the whiteboard about the elements they felt that a "good" interview should include.  After creating this list, I showed students the YouTube video Katie Couric on How To Conduct an Interview.  My students needed a little background information on Katie Couric to understand why she was an appropriate authority on conducting interviews.  After watching the video, asked the students to help adapt the list of elements that a "good" interview should have. 

To show my students an example of what an interview looked like, I showed them the YouTube video @katiecouric: Drake , a video of Katie Couric conducting an interview with music artist, Drake.  My students were pretty intrigued and are still continuing to ask if they can watch another interview with someone like Drake. 

SO, after talking about interviews and how to conduct them, and watching an interview, I wanted the students to actually write one.  My class really struggles with getting started if I present them with a "blank page" moment, so I whipped up a quick graphic organizer to help the students create a rough draft of the interview they were going to create. 

The graphic organizer provides reminders that students should ask open-ended questions, make their interview conversational, and explain why they are conducing the interview to the interviewee.  If you're interested in picking up your own copy, click your way to my Teachers Pay Teacher's store to snag one for your class.  (Psssst... there's a preview below!)

After students completed their rough drafts on the graphic organizer, I split students into pairs to role play their interviews.  If any parts of the role play interview weren't quite right, the students had the opportunity to edit their graphic organizers.  Once all of the editing was complete, I asked the students to write the final copy of their interview on a separate sheet of paper.

I hope these ideas work as well for you as they did for me!  If you implement these ideas in your classroom, shoot me a comment to tell me how it went.

Happy Teaching!  

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Current Indie Obssessions

Uggghhhh... It has been so long since I have taken the time to write a blog post, so here it is, albeit long overdue. 

It seems like in the last year I've taken a break from music.  Throughout college I spent a decent amount of time exploring new artists and songs that I liked, but after starting a "real world job" a lot of that went to the wayside.  In the last few days, I've decided to get back into that music exploration. 

Here's a list of a few of my new found obsessions.  Enjoy!  

1. Lorde - Royals 

I know that everyone has heard this song and it's been viciously overplayed, but how can you not love letting this tune get stuck in your head?  

2. Pacific Air - Float 

Pacific Air is actually a band that I discovered in Tucson while attending a Ra Ra Riot concert with a friend.  As much as I loved Ra Ra Riot, Pacific Air was an exceptional opener.

3. Tune-Yards - Gangsta 

Because the best bands are always discovered while listening to NPR...

4. Max Frost - White Lies 

LOVE his gnarly voice

5. Joywave - Tongues ft. Kopps 

A fun vocal electronica tune that will stick in your head all day. 

6. Tove Lo - Habits 

Gritty, a little cliche, and somewhat raunchy, but I'm intrigued by the improvement on the Kesha-esque image. 

7. Disclosure - White Noise 

The perfect upbeat background electronic for a workout. 

8. Lana Del Rey - Diet Mountain Dew 

Ok, so maybe this isn't a new obsession, but it's another song that continues to pop into my list of favorites. 

9. Youth Lagoon - Dropla 

The perfect background sound that fits in splendidly with the rest of my more mellow songs. 

10. Ra Ra Riot - Can You Tell 

Again, maybe not the newest song, but still remains one of my favorites - plus, they're amazing live.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Iowa's Cozy Places and Spaces - Exploring the Autumn Outdoors Edition

One of the best parts about being back in Iowa is the change in seasons.  After living in Tucson and essentially missing the seasons for a year, Patrick and I are really ready to experience fall again.  That said, I think we've done a pretty bang-up job of exploring some of the best places to visit in the fall around the Des Moines area. 

Here's where we've gone and what we've done (so far)...

1. Center Grove Orchard 

Center Grove Orchard is only one of the happiest places on Earth.  It's a great place for adults and families. 

I particularly enjoyed checking out their one room school house.  (I'm certainly glad my classroom doesn't look like this!) 

The appropriate apple picking apparatus. 

Sporting my new Kate Spade for Keds kicks with a freshly picked apple.  The apples tasted soooo good fresh off the tree. 
2. Iowa City's Northside Oktoberfest

Iowa City's Oktoberfest is always a blast.  With tent after tent of local craft brews, how can you go wrong... except maybe making a typo on hundreds of tasting mugs...

How can you not love the free spirited citizens of Iowa City for making sweaters for trees?  Trees need love, too, dontcha know. 

The University of Iowa will always seem like home.   It was great to go back and enjoy some great brews in one of my favorite cities. 
3. Big Creek Lake Park

Big Creek Lake Park is one of our favorite places to hike.  With beautiful tree lined trails and paths that lead right up to the lake, it's a great place to relax (or catch a few frogs.)    

4. Clive Greenbelt Trail

Surrounded by beautiful prairies and cozy neighborhoods, we've met some of the friendliest people in the Des Moines area walking, running and biking on this trail on weekend mornings. 

5.Gray's Lake

Gray's Lake is one of the cutest, inner-city places to get outdoors I have seen.  The trail around the lake includes a cute bridge packed with special plaques commemorating weddings, lives of loved ones, and special events, plus you can always walk or ride on over to Confluence Brewery for a mid-workout beer. 

 6. The Amana Colonies

Making yarn from wool in the Amana Colonies. 

The Amana Colonies was a cute and quaint little town for an afternoon visit.  Definitely stop by White Cross Cellars and pick up a bottle of the "Monk's Red" Red picnic wine and pick up some apple cider from the Chocolate Haus. 
7. Jester Park

With plenty of great trails to walk and trees to climb, Jester park offers tons of great wooded trails that are awesome for hiking or running. 

Hiking adventures at Jester Park.