Blog Fail

Did anyone notice that my blog header image has said "January 2009" all month!  Why were you all too polite to point out my error?

Too late to change it now, I have a new image for February coming up. 

Prop Shopping: Jewerly Wholesale Edition

Went on a fun prop run last weekend for my friend again.  Thrilling: I'm not one for shopping (it isn't really fun when you're broke), but give me an objective, an unexplored part of town, and a time limit and I'll be off to the races.  After a tip from my friend, and some research on Yelp, I headed off to Clark Street between Montrose and Wilson in Chicago where there is a stretch of jewelry wholesalers open to the public on Saturdays.  And oh boy, what a sight to behold!  Store after store of crappy inexpensive jewelry from China (or perhaps some other country from which we import gobs and gobs of bling).  And oh, the BLING!  Fake engagement rings, fake diamonds, fake gold, fake silver, and no store was without a good ole healthy sampling of chince! 

The hunt for the rings was quick, but involved scouring the counters of almost all the stores on the block to find the best deal.  I was very proud of myself for not stopping to look at all the pretty stuff (sparkly objects lure me like a moth to a flame; the feathered headbands were especially intriguing - "I could make these," I thought).  I went in and got down to business; the shopkeepers were especially helpful and if they didn't have what I needed, I moved on.  I was on a mission!

I finally found perfect little wedding bands for $10 each at this one shop, only to discover they were missing one size I needed.  On my way outside to call my friend to see what I should do, I wandered into a few more shops and sifted through the boxes behind the counters with no luck.   I was about to give up my little hunt when I entered the last store on the street, and to my delight found the exact same rings (!) in the exact sizes I needed (!) for only $3 dollars each!  And this is when I felt my first shopping high.  Oh the thrill of the bargain (now I understand how those ladies on the T. J. Maxx commercials feel)!  I simply cannot believe I found them for so cheap.

I heard the stores are only open to the public on Saturdays, but I am not sure if that is true.  If you are in Chicago on a Saturday, here is the Yelp link with some information concerning the wholesale district.  Some of the stores are nicer and easier to navigate and sift through than others, and you can find a variety of jewelry, some of it actually quite nice looking, as well as scarves, hair accessories and knock - off designer bags.  I might check it out one day when I have a little more time and cash to spend.


Whiteboards Just Don't Cut It

I wish I brought my camera more to work, because I never know what I'm going to see.  Every once in a while, I get to work in a classroom that is so beautifully filled with children's artwork and such an inviting and warm environment that I wish I could spend every day there.  Also, believe it or not, sometimes I get inspiration for projects I could incorporate into my own home.  I can't forgive myself for not being able to photograph the classroom I worked in recently with floor to ceiling windows covered in stained glass artwork.

I did walk into this classroom the other day though, and was pleasantly surprised to find a blackboard, dusty with chalk and (my favorite part) covered in little snowflakes.  I think it would be nice to have a little "idea chalkboard" in my own home near my work area.  As a teacher, nothing beats writing your name on the smooth slate to introduce yourself to a class (and it sure conjures up memories of grammar school when you wrote your name on the board for being naughty).  I remember kids used to love being picked to clean the erasures every week, with the big dusty vacuum-like machine, and wash the blackboard at the end of each day, making it smooth and shiny with straight sponge strokes. 

Stormy Weather...

It's been so gloomy lately.  Here are some bobbles from Mexico City I keep on my windowsill to brighten my day.


Jack + Balloons = One Scared Kitty

Yesterday was the boyfriend's birthday, and to surprise him I decorated the house with streamers and balloons.  It wasn't much of a surprise, as I had to do it at 5:00 A.M. before he woke up - and of course he heard me cutting and ripping and rustling and taping the crepe paper to the walls.  But it was nice just the same.  And there were balloons (!), which we had fun rubbing onto Jack's fur to make them stick, after which Jack would walk around the apartment sideways trying to get away from them, probably wondering why they were so persistent in their pursuit.  We tortured him with balloons so much that he is now afraid of them, and will run and hide if he sees us coming with one in our hands.


Tuesday, Spaghetti

This weekend I went on a prop scavenger hunt of sorts with my friend, who is currently in charge of props for the Building Stage's new show The Ring Cycle, adapted from Wagner's opera Der Ring Des Nibelungen.  Over a quick lunch (Thai - curry, yum) she informed me of some items we needed to find that day; among these were a metal pail, sequins, a muslin doll, potion bottles, a ladder back chair, an old fashioned leather camera case, a megaphone and a frog lawn ornament.  We were not so lucky on our search, our only thrift store find for the show being the metal pail.  We did however find this:

AND one for everyday of the week!  They're large too, so they stood out among the pots and pans they were nestled between at the back of the store.  We laughed so hard when we found these, in part because of their idiosyncratic nature, but also as a result of their random placement in the kitchen section of the thrift store.  When I unveiled them to my boyfriend however, he was nonplussed, much to my chagrin.

Here is a link to a picture of all of them together.  The illustrator is Eric Carle, whom I love; one of my favorite books as a kid was The Very Hungry Caterpillar, which he also illustrated.


This Took Hours...

At last! My little presentation of a Christmas card I made out of a paper bag:

Comic Life Trial and Error...

I'm working on a post right now to display an embroidered Christmas card I made over the holiday.  I decided to get crafty about displaying it online, and am consequently learning some new technologies.  This doesn't happen often, so hold your breath, because usually Computers + Disaster Cat = FAIL.  No - seriously, the fact that I even have a blog right now is nothing short of miraculous.  Did I mention I failed Microsoft Word during a placement test I took for a temp agency?  I mean, I knew I would fail Excel and PowerPoint, but WORD people?  Word.  Usually any task related to computers proves too difficult or frustrating, or simply not fun, resulting in some sort of redfaced tear fest 30 minutes before a deadline. But I digress. This project will take time, so I suggest you twiddle your thumbs for a while until I figure out how to do this.

This = Comic Life.  I first learned about it through substituting at an elementary school in my district.  Walking down the hallways, I was able to check out some pretty good looking comic strips and report visuals the children made with the application.  If children can do it, I can too, right?  We'll see!  It actually is a cinch to use - I'm spending the most time on the design and layout aspect of the project, and playing around with some cool styles.


The Death of Christmas

Yesterday I took down my Christmas tree.  The poor pitiful future pile of mulch, stripped of all its Christmas glory, dripping pine needles and leaving my hands covered in sap signified the end of one of the nicest Christmas vacations I have had since I was a kid.  It was quite sad.

(  It is amazing how bad a Christmas tree can look after you have taken all the lights and decorations off of it.  )

This vacation was different from ones in the past in that I actually got to celebrate it- and it was awesome!  I have been working in restaurants (and before that, retail - equally less generous with holiday off time) and had become used to bargaining for which holiday I wanted off the most, playing politics with managers to try and get enough time to travel home in time for Christmas dinner (or Thanksgiving's, if that was the holiday I was able to procure).

No more!

I'm a substitute teacher, so I get the same vacation time as a little child!  And it's wonderful!

I utterly packed my vacation time to the brim.

And now it is time to go back to work.  I picked up a job using our online scheduling system called Subfinder at about 1:00 A.M. this morning, and would have canceled it today if I hadn't woken up past the cancellation deadline this morning.  The perk about being a sub is that I really can work whenever I want, but need to find the discipline  on mornings like these, after a two week long joyous vacation with snow and great food and travel and buffalo hunts to get back in the car and make the long early morning drive to a middle school in my hometown.


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