August 28, 2011

Oh hey.

Autumn leaves
photo via Guardian via Getty Images

The best feeling in the world for me is wanting to do work. It truly doesn't matter what the task at hand is, but when I'm inspired to roll up my sleeves and get to business, I think that is when I am at my happiest.

Since my last post, the world has been sort of crazy. Between the beginning of the school year at a new school (which is absolutely fabulous, btw), an earthquake, and a hurriance ravishing the eastern shore, my world has been full of distractions. I don't mind it, because distractions like these make life exteremly rich. They give us something to talk about, something to focus on, something to work on.

I cannot even tell you how the change in schools has rejuvinated my work ethic when it comes to teaching. My last two years teaching have been solely spent teaching a class alined with important state assessments. Because of the nature of the school I worked at, these tests really were the driving force day-in and day-out of my instruction and planning process. I didn't mind it at the time, but now that I am removed from that mentality, I am realizing how it thwarted my creativity.

Now that I am no longer teaching those classes, I am really enjoying creating lessons, finding resources, and truly wanting to educate my students so they are college ready. This semester I am teaching mostly seniors (with a handful of juniors, and a year-long class of freshmen). The senior class is called Studies in Composition and for all practical purposes, is a writing course. Essentially, it's the stepping stone between high school English and college. It's my job to get them writing and learning in a college style that is high school friendly. It's a challenge, but it is so fun having a new project to work on and think about all-the-time.

With that being said, I am feeling so happy to have found a new focus. It's rejuvinating and encouraging all at the same time.

August 20, 2011

A great man.

I lost a great uncle on Thursday morning. May he rest peacefully.

Please keep my Aunt Susie in your prayers.

xo, Liz

August 17, 2011

Goodbye, sweet summer.

Cory and I have a funny relationship. For example, I'll get irritated and he'll just try to be cute. I just ignore it, but when it comes down to it, it's usually pretty funny and I crack/budge/give in whatever you want to call it. Also, I should note, this is usually when it's revolving around something frivolous.

Our latest fiasco revolves around the fact that I cut out a coupon for bite sized Snickers. Why? I have no idea. I never keep junk food in the house, let alone candy, but I guess the timing just felt right. Ever since I carried the beloved bag of Snickers home (around 4 weeks ago), I have found trails of wrappers left by my dear husband.

He loves junk food. He would weigh about 500,000 pounds if I kept it in the house. As a means of keeping me and my husband healthy and fit, I don't buy it. This time, however, the Snickeres made Cory feel especially awesome. So he ate a lot of them. Fortunately, they're bite sized, so it's really not the end of the world.

The end of the world came when I finally had it up to here (hand up to forehead) with picking them up after Cory was finished. ugh. Please do not make me pick up after you! We have this conversation all the time. It's all in good fun, I know he means no harm. Honestly, my husband can be absent minded about leaving stuff around. I know he'll get to it eventually... but if it bugs me enough, I'll just do it myself. I know, I know... I'm probably creating a monster. Seriously though, Cory is great and very clean and tidy and takes good care of the house. And because of that, I ensued with the sarcasm about this ridiculous trail of wrappers.


I finally picked up the last one I could bare this morning and told him enough was enough. We shall live in a home coated in chocolate wrappers if it means I wouldn't have to pick up ONE MORE WRAPPER.

And that is the note he left me when he finished the last delicious nugget-y treat.

I had a really good laugh when I found it in the kitchen. Oh my sweet husband. He knows how to get me. :)

So here's to a sweet way of ending the summer before we head back to school tomorrow. I plan on doing a full fledge "the summer that was..." post within the next week. For now, however, I want to end it on this note.


August 15, 2011

Mad Men as Yearbook Class? What?!

I have a thing for Mad Men. I mean seriously, this is nothing new. I'm sort of dying over the fact that Season 5 isn't part of my back-to-school preparation this year. Definitely feels like something is missing.  

That's when I was thinking.. why wait for Mad Men when you could bring Mad Men to school? Well, as you know, Mad Men isn't the most teenage/family friendly television show. In fact, when I used a clip last school year, I was hard pressed to find one appropriate without a lot of innuendo, but I did. So what the heck am I talking about?

Yearbook Class meet Sterling Cooper.
I think you guys will compliment each other nicely.

We will have our Creative Department: To help brainstorm slogans, sections, layouts, the general feel of the yearbook.

Our Art Department: To funnel the ideas to print. Design the photography, the art, the graphics. Make sure everything fits the general theme.

Head of Accounts: To organize, manage, and invest time in making sure our Ads are filled, our payment has been collected, and our customers are happy!

And Me? Well, I'll be the Office Manager.

At first I thought it would just be funny to do it this way, but now I'm seriously contemplating it.
(As you can see, I try to make my classroom fun for the kids AND for me ;))

P.S. There is NO smoking or drinking allowed in the yearbook class!

What do you think?

Back to School... sort of

Teacher's head back to school this Thursday, but I had my first unofficial day back today.

I invited my entire Yearbook class to a meeting this morning (it ran 9-1pm) to introduce myself, fester some new ideas, get the minds working, and you know... just have fun and get to know one another.

When the kids arrived, we filled out name tags and got comfortable in our environment. As soon as everyone was together, we completed this icebreaker activity where the students decide which color best matches their personality. It's pretty huge for me as a teacher to see what kind of personalities I'm working with for a number of reasons. A)It will show me my leaders. B)It will show me my creative people. C)It will show me my slackers. So I'm really glad we did that!

After the icebreaker, I passed around sample yearbooks I collected at Yearbook Camp a few weeks ago from other schools in the Mid-Atlantic area. They looked through them, found strengths and weaknesses, and then we compiled a giant list for our records.

We talked a smidgeon about the theme for our yearbook, but gosh, they were just getting so excited, I didn't want to stop them from jotting down their lists of ideas. I could see the creative juices flowing! It was fun to see the creative process happen, unlike me trying to be creative. I gave them a little treat, a brand new journalism book and a mini Snickers bar. They have a small assignment due for me on the first day of school, which I don't think they were too pleased about, but it will help them in the long run.

All in all, we had a great day. It was good getting to know some of the students I'll be working with (all but 2 were able to make the meeting!) and be able to hit the ground running feeling pretty confident.

Also, I found out that I will be teaching most of the seniors I have in yearbook. That is a blessing in disguise, as well. If they're getting bogged down in my Senior Composition class, or in Yearbook, I can try to negoiate with them. It will also help me make some incredible bonds... or I hope! ;)

That's all from this end. After a full workshop day and a few extra hours working on school stuff at my desk, I am really tired! Early to bed for me; Cory and I have a Starbucks & Work day planned for tomorrow. <3


August 14, 2011

Day Trip: American Visionary Arts Museum

If you're in the mid-Atlantic/New England area, it's probably raining where you are. It's been raining so much this weekend you're probably wondering if you can reschedule or do something fun next weekend to live up the last few moments of summer, right?

That's pretty much where my mind was this past week. Cory and I traveled so much in July we have been taking a lot of time off to relax our bodies and our wallets. So we're staying at home, going to our community pool, and cooking in as much as possible. I love this because it means more time for books, more time for crochet, and more time to soak in peace and quiet before school starts back up this coming Thursday. However, earlier this week a little birdie (my friend Whitney) told me about a day trip she had taken to the American Visionary Art Museum. It had been a while since Cory and I had been to a gallery of sorts (...ok since early July...), so I knew it was a perfect Saturday thing to do!

If you're unfamiliar with Baltimore, trust me when I say that it is NOT 100% like The Wire. That is one of the most common things I hear and it is so frustrating. Baltimore actually has a lot to offer families, teens, couples, you name it! Sure, there are a few neighborhoods that are sketchy and really unsafe, but the bottom line is that if you're going there to do something cool, you're not going to end up in those areas anyway! Baltimore has a really amazing art and up and coming music scene. I have seen some incredible bands in the area when they were just starting out, that went big in NO time after the show (ie: Black Keys). Anyway, please know that Baltimore is an amazing city. It has a lot to offer! Sorry for the rant, I just felt the need to defent Charm City.

So, the AVAM is in the heart of Federal Hill, a really charming neighborhood in Baltimore near the harbor. The building itself will blow you away as it is covered in mosaic and screams GLITTER!

The Museum is comprised of three buildings. The glitter building is the main entrance where you see a lot of the galleries that are open year-round. Trust me when I say this isn't your average art gallery. It is so fun, quirky, and cool. They have a collection of every Pez dispenser ever made. EVER. It was right up my alley and provided me with so much inspiration. SO much. Right now, the exhibit on display until September 4th is "What Makes Us Smile?" which is all-around fun and so sweet.

When you walk into the building, you're instantly greeted by SMILE, a mosaic created by toothbrush parts! So creative!

Unfortuantely, photography isn't allowed inside a few of the buildings, but I tried my hardest to sneak a few for you ;). We encountered a massive downpour mid-way through our visit, so I apologize for the change in lighting and... well... the rain. Most of them are taken with my droid, but a few are taken with my Nikon D40 as well.

(Now you might be asking yourself...
WHAT is that pink fluffy thing in the bottom left corner!?)

In the main building there is a really great shop that has lots of wacky stuff. I picked up a new bag to use for my lunch bag at work. I also picked up a few of Twinkie Chan's Yummy You pins!

But I will admit... I did leave this beauty behind:

I hope you enjoyed a little peek into the AVAM!


August 13, 2011

Recipe: Maple Glazed Salmon w/Pineapple

Maple-Glazed Salmon With Pineapple

I subscribe to Real Simple magazine and love how much they offer me each month. I always have the hardest time tossing out my issues because they're like mini encyclopedias to help me with the day to day issues in life.

A while ago I was in desperate need of a quick recipe to use with a large piece of salmon I picked up for the store, so I instantly sought out Real Simple for a little help. I was not led astray, the answer was right there infront of me: Maple Glazed Salmon w/Pineapple.

What I loved about this meal:
1) I had all the ingredients already at home (yay for not having to run out to the store!)
2) The actual cooking time was only 7 minutes for the salmon. I <3 a quick meal!
3) The glaze was so refreshing and not very sticky. It perfectly complimented the salmon and pineapple!
4) We had a ton of leftovers for lunch the next day! (yay!)
 It's so easy and so yummy!

(disclaimer: 1) these were taken with my Droid. 2) It looks burnt, but it's not. It was just the syrup on the outside, not the actual fish.)

Artomatic is coming to Frederick!

Artomatic logo

Artomatic, a non-profit organization created with intentions to support open-entry artisans in the D.C. community, began in 1999 and has become quite an exciting event in the metro area. So what does D.C. have to do with Frederick? Well, other than it being less than an hour away from us, what happens in D.C./Baltimore usually floats our way eventually, which is why I'm smitten with this little artist-friendly town.

Nearly four years ago, the local school system finally decided to compile all four Board of Education offices that operated throughout Frederick County and have one massive BOE building downtown. Sure, they already had a headquarters downtown, but it wasn't even close to being large enough to house all the offices... plus it was in need of millions of dollars in rennovations, that unfortunately, were much more expensive than starting from scratch. That brings us to 2010 when they opened the doors to their beautiful new office building. But what was going to happen with the landmark location on Church Street?

(old office)

(new office)

It's been the question in a lot of discussions recently, and that's when Artomatic stepped in!

Yes! Artomatic is to be held in Frederick this fall (September 28-November 6)! I can't even believe it. Although the plans had been in the works with the Frederick Arts Council, I didn't hear about this until last night and I am so excited to share it with all of you!

So here's the deal. Artists have until September 9th to sign up for a spot in the building. The building can house over 300 artists! Each spot is $100. Each artist is required to pay the fee plus donate a few hours of their time helping out with the event. Now--let's say you're a gal like me that has a pretty busy fall season ahead and you're not quite sure if you can handle another big event--I'm just donating my time! That's right, I signed up to be a greeter for the event a few Sundays. If I can't give my art, I will surely give my time!

I'm really excited about this for a few key reasons.
1) More art in Frederick is never a bad thing.
2) Autumn is my favorite season for art... and life in general... ;)
3) Frederick is gorgeous in autumn!

So, come on out folks. If you're a metro-area resident, it will be worth your journey. Many locals have already signed up (did you know Frederick has always had a large artist demographic?), but there are also quite a few visiting artists looking to get their work introduced in a new community! Fun!

August 12, 2011

This book will change you as an artist!

I have a bittersweet relationship with creative energy. It seems like I need all my inspiration to hit at the exact same moment when I can actually sit down and make an idea come to life. For the longest time, I've blamed a lack of productivity on time. Or organization. Or other people. Or life in general. It's honestly ridiculous. In fact, I got so used to blaming my lack of time to crochet, I began to feel extremely overwhelmed by creative energy. This energy was within and struggling to come out in a myraid of ideas and designs, but I just put up a wall. I just couldn't bring myself to sit down and do it. "Planning a few lessons for school is more important..." and the excuses continued. It was then, I realized, that I was allowing myself to be overwhelmed by creative energy.

There are so many amazing, dedicated, inspiring artisans out there that I admire with my whole heart. I dream of the day when I could be standing next of them, but what was I actually doing about it? Not much. I have been thinking about this overwhelmed sensation pretty much all summer. I even took a few weeks off from crocheting to "re-focus" myself and combat the nervous feeling head on.

Then, a few days ago a sweet friend of mine and extremely talented jewelry designer, Chrissy Gemmill, posted on her blog about a book she had just finished reading. It was EXACTLY what I needed.

I immediately sprinted out to Barnes & Nobel, grabbed the book, and finished it within just a few hours sitting by the pool. That's right. All it took was just a few hours to kick myself in the rear, enjoy Pressfield's ability to identify and name my issue with creative energy, and then recharge my batteries. It was incredible.

Ultimately, if you have ever struggled with creative energy, you should read this book. For example, if you've ever wanted to write a story, design a dress, learn how to knit, paint a portrait as a gift, or... organize your closet... but "never got around to it" and then felt really sort of guilty about it... then this is for you.

Essentially, Pressfield starts by explaning the idea of Resistance. When you have an idea, feel overwhelmed, and never bring it to fruition (um, hello... that was me nearly every day), you have succummed to Resistance. Pressfield explains the various froms of Resistance and why artists allow it to overwhelm themselves (insecurity, nervousness, etc.) in the early days.

He then begins to address how experience plays a part in allowing Resistance into your life. He separates us into two groups: ametures and professionals. I am an amerture... for now.
I completely understood what he was saying and I knew that I had been my own worse enemy. I'm not being overly negative on myself, but the fact of the matter was I needed toughen up and get serious!

The most incredible part of the book was while I was reading this particular section, it was almost as if three of my biggest inspirations, Yokoo, Maggie from GussySews, and Elsie Larson of A Beautiful Mess were reading it aloud to me. Honestly. It was such a magical moment, and that is why I emplore you to read it as well. It is such a quick read and has totally motivated me to think more clearly, jump on ideas, and be true to my creative spirit.

I'm fortunate to have such a strong creative energy that I need to embrace it and stop resisting it!

So, go. Go read this book. It will encourage you, probably make you giggle a few times, and encourage you to combat the negatitvity and pressure. I promise!

Happy Friday!

August 11, 2011

Back to School

(photo & bag via CaptainCat)

Well, folks. A week from today I'll be sitting in a library with notebook in hand, taking copious notes regarding new policies, procedures (and probably doodling about observations in the crowd). That's right. Teacher's go back to school next week.

Back to school is such an exciting time. Everyone starts on a good note and everyone wants to be the best. Teachers and students alike have butterflies regarding the first day of school. Will we look presentable? Will we be organized enough? Who will be in our classes? Did I get the right supplies? Seriously. That feeling never goes away... even as a teacher.

This year brings so many changes for Team Matheny (what Cory and I have coined our joint efforts in life). I will be changing schools, and so will Cory! That's right. At the tail end of July Cory interviewed for a history position at the local School for the Arts. He was so fortunate to get this dream job and has been kinda high-on-life ever since. I am so happy for him. This is where he is meant to be, I just know it. His artistic and lyric soul will be surrounded with like-minded people and students. It might sound trite, but I seriously believe this is a dream come true. I think all anyone hopes and wishes for is to have a job where you're surrounded by your people.

Here are a few other firsts for this fall:
1)For the first time in my teaching career, I will not have a classroom. I will be a floating teacher. I'm actually ok with this. It will force me to think outside the box and approach lessons in a different, minimalist kind of way.

2) I will be teaching yearbook. I am so excited to teach this class! I met a few Yearbook students yesterday and was just overjoyed with this opportunity. I'm hosting my very first yearbook meeting this coming Monday. A time to team build, talk about the basics, and get students REALLY excited for the upcoming school year! Hooray!

3)I will be participating in a few new events this fall with Donna's Decembers. Here are a few dates to jot down on your calendars:
10/8-9 Thurmont Color Fest
11/5 First Saturday Guest Artist @ The Muse
11/12 Liberty High School Craft Fair

(I have maaaaany more applications floating out there in the craft fair world, so check back for more events!)

Time for me to grab a quick bite before heading off to the pool! :)


August 9, 2011

A little treat for your Tuesday!

Hi, friends! How's your Tuesday going? Mine is going strangely, to be perfectly honest.

A fellow teacher and I were supposed to meet up to do some school work at my community pool, and when I awoke, there were nothing but black clouds in my skies. So, I made some coffee to wait it out, but the rain continued for hours.
(Note: Of course, its bright and sunny out now...)

Cory and I bought a ceiling fan for our bedroom last night and decided to wait until this morning to install it. Well.. if there's one thing that is extremely hard to put together without a ladder, it's a ceiling fan. You should've seen the extremely unsafe stack of books (and even at one time a MCM chair) that donned our bed in hopes of reacing the ceiling. Yikes! After a patient few hours, our ceiling fan is mounted and gorgeous. I am in love with it... srsly.

In other news, the ceiling fan installation wore me out so thoroughly that I promptly took a 45 minute nap with my kitten until it was time for lunch. What? Who naps in the morning other than... children!? haha.

Now, I'm trying to figure out what to do with my day. I scheduled some time this morning to apply for fall/winter craft fairs in the Maryland/DC area. I already have a running list that I am participating in, so I am getting giddy with excitement! I need to run out to the local bookstore to grab a copy of this month's Lucky magazine. Elsie Larson is in the magazine and I truly admire her, so I want to check it out! I also need to pick up a few last minute school supplies.

One of the hardest parts of teaching is figuring out how in the heck you are going to keep your kids organized. Seriously! You can't just hope for them to figure it out... especially high schoolers. They need to be given the guidance and structure to succeed. Looks like I'll be measuring the pros and cons of notebooks vs. binders. Oh the quandries of life.

Okay so here's my treat. Dana over at Craftyminx posted this video and it cracks me up (and terrifies me) so I had to share! Go on and enjoy some "Craft Talk" ;)

What?! A no photo post... it's true.

I don't know how this happened... but I go back to school next Thursday.

What the what?!

In typical teacher fashion, I will be spending my last few days of summer getting prepared for the upcoming school year. I've already bought the supplies I needed, so the rest is just up to me and a computer.

In case you're curious, I will be teaching (in some order, throughout the entire school year):

Freshman English
Honors Freshman English
Studies in Composition

I'm very excited for this schedule, as it breaks me away from the crazy testing that happens during the English curriculum. I'm excited to start at my new school and get settled in the new community.

Between now and then, I'll be working on my syllabi, keeping my butterflies under control, and making master plans of greatness (okay, semi-great, if I'm lucky ;)).

For now, though, I have stared at this computer for long enough (you know.. practically 12 hours). It's time for bed!

August 7, 2011

How I spent my Sunday..

One of my favorite things about having the exact same schedule as Cory is that it lends us more time to relax together. The last few days have been chulk full of fun times with family and friends, but we were due for some quiet time today. Once we woke up, I was determined to make today a pajama day.

We have a NY style pizza place in our neighborhood, so convincing Cory to stay indoors so we could get pizza, wasn't much work ;). We've enjoyed a quiet day with a little bit of rain outside, by lounging on the couch reading a ton of magazines and working on new yarn projects (oh hey, fall totes!). On days like this, it's important that the movies you watch are intriguing and easy to watch, so we went with two classics:

"Manhattan" (a great Woody Allen film):

and, of course, "When Harry Met Sally":

How was your Sunday?

August 6, 2011

You crazy knook!

Holy moley. Crocheters unite at the fabulousness of the latest release from Leisure Arts. The Kook!

I cannot even tell you how many times I have had the following converstion:
"Liz, you should really start knitting. Teach yourself how to knit. Just do it. Why aren't you teaching yourself how to knit yet? What's your problem? JUST KNIT ALREADY!"

Seriously. I've been putting an insane amount of pressure on myself to figure out how to knit. Why? Because it's totally different than crocheting and I could really expand my product. owever, to me, knitting is like driving a manual car. It takes too many limbs to operate. Something that requires that many body parts to just get started is...well, pointless to me. Call me a quitter, but this lady needs things streamlined and easy. Oh well.

I thought I would never learn to knit until I stumbed across the Knook!

Anyone can knit with the Knook from Leisure Arts

That's right. I can crochet and make something knit-like. Yes please! Sign me up!

Now, you might be saying to yourself, how can it be that different? Here's a perfect example:

One of Leisure Art's free patterns for the knook is this sampler scarf:

Sampler Scarf

What I adore about this product is that you get the best of both worlds. The beauty of crochet stitches with the fabric-like, classic beauty of knits.

I'm still a work in progress over here with the knook, but I wil certainly post updates later this week(end)!

Note: I am not affiliated with Leisure Arts in any way. I just love the brilliance of this product!


P.S. I am dying to know what projects you are working on! Tell me in the comments!

August 5, 2011

Upcycling Inspiration

I love upcycled things. I say thing, because I'm generally very easy to please and just love the creativity behind pretty things being used to make other pretty things.

I've been needing some inspiration for a few home projects I want to create in the upcoming months, so here are the photos I've stored away!











(all of these ridiculously awesome photos are from the recycled tag via weheartit)