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. 

Zombie Mob in a Flash Tutorial

It's been a while since I've had a change to write a blog post because life has been crazy!  Last week was homecoming week at my school and since I work as part of a residential program, my goal was to go all out and really make homecoming week special for the boys on my dorm.  We had a blast bringing in clothes to help the boys dress up.  My favorite day, by far, was walking dead Wednesday.  Another teacher and I were faced with the task of making 32 teenage boys and 4 staff members into zombies in about the span of two hours.  Our goal was to make each "zombie," or student, look a little bit different.  After a lot of face paint, fake blood, latex, and a monstrous mess, we created our zombie mob. 

Unfortunately I can't post a picture of my zombie clan and handiwork, but here's a list of what we used. 

-Ben Nye face paint in three different colors of corpse-esque gray (found at a local theatrical store).  This paint promised to be more hypoallergenic.  (We thought this would help some of our acne prone kiddos not break out so much.) 
-Target Halloween face paint (the $10 multi-color pack.  You'll use the yellow, green, purple and blue from this palette a lot!)
-cheap black eye shadow (I used the Rimmel London brand)
-cheap makeup brushes ($1 E.L.F. brushes from Target)  I bought several blush and eyeshadow brushes
-fake blood (either purchased or created)
-a squirt bottle
-a LOT of wedge shaped makeup sponges
-liquid latex (purchased from a Halloween store)
-cotton balls

We followed these steps:

-Using one of the three colors of the Ben Nye gray face paint and a wedge shaped makeup brush, paint the subject's face.  Don't worry about being neat - sloppy is fine, remember, you're likely in a hurry.  The sloppiness kind of adds to the effect in the end, too.
-Take one of the E.L.F. eyeshadow makeup brushes and the eyeshadow and place black shadow all over the eyelid to the brow.  Sweep the shadow under the eye to create the effect of a recessed eye socket. 
-Using the blush brush, sweep the black eyeshadow under the subject's cheek bones to create a sunken effect. 
-Brush the remainder of the black eye shadow from the brush and blend the face paint and the eyeshadow together.
-At this point, if you would like to add some structural detail, liquid latex may be used to quickly add a "rotting skin" type of texture.  While the latex is still wet, you may add small bits of cotton from cotton balls to exaggerate the texture.  Latex should be dabbed over the top of the cotton to create a more skin-like appearance.  Allow the latex to dry for several minutes before adding face paint over the top to blend the latex into the skin.  The cotton balls and latex can be shaped to create scars, open wounds, or peeling flesh features.  I usually added green, yellow, purple, and blue face paint to these areas to create a more bruised or rotting color.  FUN TIP: Place a few layers of latex on the skin, then use tweezers to rip blister-like semi-round holes in the latex.  These holes can be filled in with red, purple, and black face paint then covered with fake blood to create a chemical burn/ blister effect.
-To make the subject's hair look gray, we rubbed a bit of flour in.  The flour may be set with hairspray if you want to ensure that it will last for a little while.
-The last, but most fun part, is adding the fake blood.  We asked all of our students to dress in clothing that could be ruined.  We had several jugs of fake blood and a few squirt bottles.  For each student, we chose to identify specific types of injuries, like gunshot wounds, slit throats, etc. The blood was placed depending on the wound.  By letting the blood drip onto the clothes, the injuries seemed more realistic.  The final touch was spraying all of the students down with fake "splatter" from the squirt bottles.  FUN TIP:  Coat the subject's arms with flour and then add the fake blood.  If you rub the flour, the fake blood will clump in some places and create an even grimier, clotted texture. 

I followed some slightly different steps for my own zombie makeup, however it will give you a better idea of some of the techniques that can be used with the latex.

The steps I followed as well as the materials and some pictures of the process are below: 

First I coated my face with the lightest foundation I owned (several shades lighter than what I normally wear.)  Then, using a wedge shaped makeup sponge, I dabbed liquid latex on my forehead and under my eye.  You may need several coats of latex.  Be careful that you do not get the latex too close to your eye.  BEWARE!  The smell of the latex will likely make your eyes burn and water  For my hair, I used cheap, strong hold hairspray to make my hair crunchy, gross, and tousled - I also stuck in a few leaves and sticks on the way to school.  

Once the latex on my forehead and under my eye dried, I used tweezers to pull some of the latex away from my skin.  On my forehead, I was going for a chemical burn/blistered look, so I used the tweezers to create round, blister like spots of open skin.  Under my eye, I wanted to create an effect like the skin under my eye had been ripped away.  To do this, I gently pulled the latex down away from my eye with my tweezers.  After I finished using my tweezers, I dabbed the foundation on top of the latex to make it closer to the color of my skin.  To add some more architectural detail, I added some latex and cotton on my cheek to create an open wound effect. 

Once the latex was dry, I filled in the spaces with red face paint.  After this picture, I added black and purple face paint inside the "wounds" to create a darker, more realistic color.  I also added some yellow and green face paint stippled and blended around the "wounds" to make the surrounding skin look a little bruised and rotten.

Once you have finished shading in the "wounds" with face paint, add fake blood to the wounds.  don't be afraid to let some drip. I also added black eye shadow around my eyes, up to my eyebrows and below my eyes.  I pulled some eyeshadow around the sides of my nose, around my hair line, and under my cheekbones too to create a more skeletal look. 

And, there you have it.  Zombie makeup in a flash!