Guilty of Blog Abandonment

Dear Blog--

I'm sorry. I've been distracted by another website. It was new. It was exciting. It paid me. It's not that I no longer care for you, because I do, but I guess I just needed a break. But now I have completed it and am no longer feeling the thrill of the chase. So I can now pay more attention to you. I promise to try...


I've just finished the new website for the Middle Tennessee Writing Project, and am really excited about how it turned out! Let me start by saying that I am not a web designer. I worked for a website in college, but I did mostly copy writing and data entry. The little design I did was very template driven. Besides, things have changed A LOT in the last few years. I used WordPress to create it as it gave me a lot of flexibility and then googled constantly trying to figure out how to do what I wanted. It was sometimes frustrating, but I learned so much about web design! And I learned the most from having to fix problems.
Actually, it was a ton of fun, and I'm sure I'll continue to fiddle with it forever. And let me just say one thing: Plugins are SO MUCH FUN! Other people figure things out and you just download and insert. I was able to add a message board, mailing list and chat room (among other more admin type things) using plugins. And you see the MTWP button in my sidebar? It's grabbable from the website! I may do a tutorial on that, because it was super easy.

I also want to point out that this is not my website. MTWP is part of the National Writing Project, a teachers-teaching-teachers professional development model that has completely changed my appproach to teaching and has given me avenues into areas of education that interested me, but that I had no idea how to break into. I'm honored to be a part of the organization, and even more so to be able to be so in a leadership role. My job as Co-Technology Liaison is to use technology to further the work of the Writing Project. Which, if you are a teacher, you need to be a part of. Today. (go to NWP.org to find a list of sites in your state) Objective number one was to create a website that would be interactive, could be used for both continuity and professional development, and act as a marketing tool for the organization. I think we have a good start on that (we already have four online applications to the Summer Institute!), but am excited to look for additional ways to support the work.

So, check out the site, and please leave me any feedback you can on it. It's not perfect, but I want it to be, and I need some other eyes on it.

Next up....Birthday Party planning! Avery will be 3 in just over 2 months...and I'm behind!


Have I Mentioned How I Love a Dollar Aisle?

Probably only once or twenty times. They. Are. Fabulous. Especially the one at Target. Apparently they are not doing well in this economy, which shocks me as I feel like my visits alone could keep the entire company afloat. But anyway. They have a really cute line of desk accessories in right now. I found this little clipboard...

Cute, but not really my style. So I grabbed some scraps of my favorite paper ever, some fifty cent bobbin ribbons and some modge podge and came up with this...

I so love it. It's small--it holds a mini legal pad--but perfectly pink now. I used a dip spreader to pry the rivets off the back so I could add the paper. That bent the metal ever so slightly, making it impossible to re-fasten one of the rivets. So one side is super glued down. I added some pink brads over the rivets to hide the rough side since that's on the front. I also added some green polka dot paper to the back to finish it off. And this is important--I added a coat of modge podge over the whole surface to help keep it from getting quite so dirty.
Seriously. A dollar and thirty minutes.

And since I mentioned my favorite paper, look what else I made with it!!

I found these mugs at Oriental Trading. They came with a "World's Greatest Dad" insert for kids to color, so I used that as the template and traced my inserts on pretty paper. I cut the circles with my beloved Cricut (Kyle got me two new carts for Christmas!), and used stickers for the monogram. I made these for my friends at school for Christmas and for Avery's teachers.
And speaking of the Cricut....

Santa brought Avery this little step stool for her playhouse, but let us do the monogramming in anticipation of new Cricut fonts. I cut the name from the Mini Monogram cartridge and the polka dots from George. But they're not cut from paper; it's vinyl! Lowes has their Wall Pops for $3 (though I've heard some of the stores have them for $1), so I stocked up on pink and green. They only had the dark pink, so I clipped a piece to Avery's new easel and painted right on it. Using the easel was her idea, by the way. You just peel the paper off the cut vinyl and stick it on. I first tried the vinyl out on the front door, and am now anxious to ghost the words to Michigan's fight song as a border in the den.

So that's all for my December crafting. I have a couple of pictures of a new decoration I tried this year, which I may post later, and of course "the cold Grinch" will make an appearance, but it's time to more or less move in to the new year. Or at least that's my excuse...really I just need to figure out what I'm teaching on Tuesday and launch the website for the Writing Project.


TuTu Cute

One day while I was perusing Etsy I came across all these beautiful tutu dresses--a new concept to me! They are actually really easy to make, and can be done completely no-sew. You can see some gorgeous examples here. Basically, you just knot lengths of tulle onto a ribbon waistband long enough to fit across the chest and have room to tie into a bow at the back. A second ribbon is looped on the front and ties around the neck. Instead of being super short like most tutus, these extend to tea-length.

So here's what I came up with for Kyle's cousin's little girl Kaylee. It uses 100 yards of tulle in hot pink, light pink and white. With 50% off coupons, that's about $5 worth of tulle. I hot glued some sherbety peonies to the front to help keep everything modest (and pretty!).

And of course, every tutu needs a matching hairbow...

As expected, Steph was more excited about this than Kaylee. She's planning to have pictures made of Kaylee in it this spring. Those were my thoughts exactly when making it :). Avery has one, too, of course. Hers is white with the softest pink flowers on the front. And for hers I made ribbon straps instead of the halter. Hers is a tad too small, though, so I'm waiting for a sale or coupon so I can finish it.

I haven't blogged in forever, but I have been creating, so I'll get to some more things soon. Just after I make my house look a little less like Toy R Us exploded in it. And finish the website. And plan next semester. And...well, you get the picture.

Happy New Year all!!
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