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How to Build Your Own Terrarium Tutorial

howtobuildaterrarium

 

Last week,  I visited the absolutely amazing Downtown Market in Grand Rapids, Michigan with some friends for the first time to attend a workshop called How to Build A Terrarium. If you are ever in Grand Rapids, you have to visit the Downtown Market. They have the indoor Market Hall, a “culinary collective” of artisan products including a Bakery, Juice Bar, Coffee Bar, Wine Bar, Meat Market, Bake Shoppe, AND gourmet restaurants including: Fish Lads, Rak Thai, Sushi Maki, Tacos El Cunado AND even a Creperie.

Downtown Market

In the summer, they have an Outdoor Market three times a week and in the Fall, every Saturday from 9am to 2pm.

Outdoor Market

Finally, they also offer a full schedule of classes, programs and workshops which include everything from: yoga, cheese making, Introduction to Aromatherapy & Essential Oils, Cooking Classes, Mommy and Me Activities, to Greenhouse workshops. Click Here to see their schedule of upcoming classes. This is where I went with two of my friends to do the How to Build a Terrarium Workshop.  I put together a cheat sheet of the ingredients you will need based on what I learned at the workshop to share with you:

terriarum ingredients

1. First, start by putting about 1 inch layer of gravel at the bottom of your container, to fill up space in the jar and to keep the soil from being to damp.

2. On top of the gravel, put approximately .5in to 1.5in layer of activated charcoal, also to help soak up extra water.

3. Add your cactus/succulent potting soil. The amount of soil you want to use really depends on the size and shape of your container. You want a nice, thick layer so that the soil comes up about to the bottom of your opening.

4. Plant your succulents in the soil. Give them space to breathe.

5. Add your decorative items on the top of the soil after you planted your succulents. This will help weigh the soil down.

Sun Requirements:

* Most succulents need about 6 hours a day of indirect sunlight. Make sure your terrarium is in a cool, well ventilated area.

* It helps to place your terrarium near a south or east facing windows in the winter in order to get maximum sunlight exposure.

* Observe your succulents when they are by windows, as sunlight may be magnified in the glass and can scorch leaves. Adjust accordingly.

Water Requirements:

* In the winter, you may water just once every 2-3 weeks.

* In the summer, it is closer to once a week. Water in the morning.

* If you are unsure, poke your finger in the soil and if it is completely dry then it’s probably a good idea to water it.

succulent terrarum

And voila! You have a start on a green thumb with a lovely & easy and organic terrarium, all your own. Does anyone have any other tips for making terrariums? If you have one, or make one,  I would love to see pictures of them!! succulent

 

XOXXo

jessie. bo.bessies.

 

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Six Life Changing Books

llife changing books

Books saved me. For as long as I can remember, I have loved reading. I genuinely cannot remember a time when I was without books. Even Before I learned to read, I made my mom read my favorite children’s books to me, over and over, until I had  memorized all the words. I would stay up with my lamp on, flipping through each page and narrating my version back to myself.

“At one magical instant in your early childhood, the page of a book—that string of confused, alien ciphers—shivered into meaning. Words spoke to you, gave up their secrets; at that moment, whole universes opened. You became, irrevocably, a reader.”

When I learned to read a whole new universe was open to me. I still remember the first book that transported me completely and utterly into it’s world, a world I never wanted to leave: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. I spent months after finishing that book, opening closet doors, shifting through clothes, praying to find a secret passage that would lead me to Narnia.

books

As a child (and still to this day) much of my reading took place late at night. Even as a kid, I had trouble turning my mind off, different anxieties and worries all piling up in my brain and unable to sleep. Books saved me and showed me for the first time, that I wasn’t alone.

Before the wonderful world Goodreads, I compiled a list of every book I read, including the date I finished it and a short review, in notebooks that sat on my night stand. In a separate journal, I still write down quotes and passages that stick out to me, in the books I read (although, Goodreads also has an extensive library of quotes from every book imaginable and allows you to create your own quote list).

A few months ago on Facebook, someone tagged me to come up with Five Books that changed me in some way and that got me thinking……so…. I  came up with a list of six books I’ve read through out the course of my life that have changed me in some way:

1. One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel Garcia Marquez

 

Up until One Hundred Years of Solitude, the only “classic” novels I had read were the ones assigned to me for classes in high school.  In fact, it was Mrs. Barney, my English Honors teacher and favorite teacher who mentioned in class one day that One Hundred Years of Solitude was one of her favorite books…I checked it out from the school library that night.

One Hundred Years chronicles the epic rise and fall of the mythical South American town of Macondo, while charting the history of the extensively populated Buendia family. It is a rich and brilliant chronicle of life and death, and the tragicomedy of humankind. In the noble, ridiculous, beautiful, and tawdry story of the Buendía family, one sees all of humanity, just as in the history, myths, growth, and decay of Macondo, one sees all of Latin America.” (Goodreads)

One Hundred Years of Solitude is the very first book I read as an adult, in which I became completely engrossed in the magnetic, magical, alluring world Marquez created, a world I never wanted to leave.

I had never encountered a writer like Marquez, a genius storyteller, brilliant writer, with questionable sanity.  It created in me a passion for all Gabriel Garcia’s books and introduced me to my favorite fiction genre: magical realism. Solitude was responsible for deepening and broadening my passion for reading and sparked in me a love of words.  Gabriel Garcia Marquez taught me through One Hundred Years of Solitude how to  to look beyond what you can see in the everyday to peer into the beyond.

2. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Chbosky, Stephen [Paperback(1999£©]

.

 Where One Hundred Years of Solitude is vast and wordy,  making your head spin with detail and complexity, Perks of Being a Wallflower is breathtakingly simple and pure.

The main character and narrator, is Charlie, Perks of Being a Wallflower is responsible for introducing me to  is one of my all time favorite literary characters: Charlie, a shy, introspective, socially awkward, but highly intelligent incoming high school freshman, with a unique and refreshing view of the world.

While Perks of Being a Wallflower is no doubt aimed at younger audiences with it’s simplified style and diminutive number of pages, everyone can identify with the ‘coming of age” themes in the book and misfits trying to fit in.

What endeared me so much to Charlie and Perks of Being a Wallflower was his struggle to understand and deal with his fragile mental health. I am probably not the only one who sees themselves in Charlie, as he tries to understand who he is, why he feels so different from everyone else, desperate to find where he fits in, and to make sense out of life. I wish I had read this book while I was in high school, it would have saved me a lot of stress.

 

East of Eden

3. East of Eden by John Steinbeck

East of Eden is undisputedly one of American Literature’s most esteemed masterpieces, Steinbeck’s “magnus opus.”

Out of some strange book stubbornness, I avoided reading East of Eden for many years. Post college, I think I had burnt myself out on trying to only ever read the classics, I was worried East of Eden would let me down, but of course it did not.

But in Steinbeck’s sprawling Eden, some of fiction’s most mesmerizing characters are born. “He expertly explores :explored his most enduring themes: the mystery of identity, the inexplicability of love, and the murderous consequences of love’s absence.”It is a sprawling story of two families and their intertwined destinies.  East of Eden is often referred to as the “classic retelling of Genesis’ story of Cain and Able” through brothers Cal and Aaron. But Steinbeck goes much, much deeper.

Timshel, my friends, timshel.

The Waves by Virginia Woolf

4. The Waves by Virginia Woolf

One of my favorite past times is underlining beautiful passages in the books I read and write them in my journal….While skimming back through my old copy of The Waves, I noticed that almost every page had at least a few lines underlined, while other pages were almost completely underlined.

The Waves is a novel unlike any other. More poetry, than novel, The NY Times calls Woolf’s writing style in The Waves as“poetic brilliance…a symphonic poem” There are six main characters, although Woolf is not concerned in character formation and is written from the perspective of each character’s inner monologue, in which they think and express themselves in a poetic manner. The Waves focuses on the poetic symbols of life. The language is beautiful, sensual, lyrical ,deeply philosophical and life and nature are interconnected.

Geek Love

5. Geek Love by Katherine Dunn

Geek Love by Katherine Dunn is probably the most disturbingly dark and wonderfully strange books  I have ever read (and I’ve read some weird stuff!) Let me explain why:

Geek Love follows the Binewskis, a  traveling, carnival “freak” show family. And by freaks, I mean freaks:  the narrator and heroine, is Olympia, a deformed, albino, humpbacked dwarf, her brother is Arturo, the Aqua-Boy, born with fins for limbs, the Siamese twin sisters, Electra and Ipheginia, and Furtuno, who, in his family’s eyes, is born disappointingly normal. If that isn’t enough, the parents and the owners of the “Binewski’s Fabulon,” are also lacking in genetic flaws, but addicted to meth-amphetamine among other drugs, in hopes of creating more genetically mutated offspring to boost their business and beat out competitors.

Ahabs Wife6. Ahab’s Wife, or, the Star-Gazer by Sena Jeter Naslund

Ahab’s Wife tells the life story of the woman who would marry the sea captain who battles Moby Dick, but she is so much more than that. Ahab’s Wife follows her on her journey to find love and tranquility:

“A magnificent, vast, and enthralling saga, Sena Jeter Naslund’s Ahab’s Wife is a remarkable epic spanning a rich, eventful, and dramatic life. Inspired by a brief passage in Moby Dick, it is the story of Una, exiled as a child to live in a lighthouse, removed from the physical and emotional abuse of a religion-mad father. It is the romantic adventure of a young woman setting sail in a cabin boy’s disguise to encounter darkness, wonder, and catastrophe; the story of a devoted wife who witnesses her husband’s destruction by obsession and madness. Ultimately it is the powerful and moving story of a woman’s triumph over tragedy and loss through her courage, creativity, and intelligence.”

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art journals.

tried my hand at some abstract journaling.
tried my hand at some abstract journaling.

Ever since I had the ability to write (non-sensical scribbles of a four year old count) I have kept a “diary.” I don’t know where the compulsion to keep a list of the daily mundane activities as a child: “Today I had rice crispies for breakfast…” The older i got, the more they developed into a living memory box of my life at that moment in time; and perhaps it started as my first paltry attempt at creating a sense of order from my distracted thoughts and messy brain. I have over 30 completed journals, which is roughly one per year.  The style and format of my journals adapts to the seasons of my life. During college and Graduate school, my journal functioned as my day planner and the keeper of my sanity. During periods in my life where I have been happy, I notice that I do more art and very little journaling. During tough times however, my journals are filled with sad song lyrics, to-do lists and life questions.

Do you like to look back at your journals? If so, do you do it often? Is creating a written record of your life to reflect back on a reason for your journaling? I am very interested to know. I can honestly say that, that is not the case with me, as writing for reflection at a later period of time would require to much forethought and planning for me. My journal has become one of my few necessities which I carry with me at all times in my bag. It is given the impossible responsibility of keeping me sane (emotionally balanced and organized enough to survive) ..so when I complete one journal, I see it as a memento of the craziness which is my life- maybe one day, when I am normal, I will want to look back at my journals to feel sorry for my crazy self.

Here are a few of my own art journal pages:

my art journal page
my art journal page
my colorful cacti
my colorful cacti
one of my favorite quotes
one of my favorite quotes
Frida and Virginia from my journal.
Frida and Virginia from my journal.

Anyways, I love nothing more than seeing pages from other peoples’ journals. I feel like I am getting a naked glimpse at their soul. I am always so amazed and inspired by the creative, beautiful things that people put down onto pages. One of my favorite artists,  Geninne Zlatkis, has the most beautiful and awe inspiring journal pages. I love all of her work and I also LOVE how she adapts her art journal entries into a day planner. Genius!!

Geninne’s Journal Page

from her flickr account
from her flickr account (October Days) 
more of Geninne's beauty
more of Geninne’s beauty

Here is the link to her flickr account for you to check her out more!: https://www.flickr.com/photos/geninne/sets/72157594514015991/

Another one of my favorites is Guilherme Dietrich. I fell in love with the bright, bold colors and vivid pieces. I had to pick my jaw up off the floor after I saw these. Unfortunately, his flickr account is no longer active and the website I found him on, isn’t either. But here are some of his beautiful pages to feast your eyes at (pangs me to know I will never create something this beautiful)

879094f849e6a1dba2595504a41cbf7e

What inspires you? Why do you journal? I would love to see!

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Students’ Art Gallery Showcase

The 1st annual Art Gallery Showcase was a success! Haha. At least, I made it through it! Took me forever to put together and hang everything up and within 15 minutes of it starting, students and parents had dismantled my hard work and taken kids’ artwork home. (Which is great!) One student even gave me flowers- (Brought a tear to my eye, I have to admit!) I got some really great feedback from parents and students which is always nice to hear so hopefully I will be getting to do the same thing next year!

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Love my job!

This is a student’s drawing I came across and had to bite my lip to stifle a laugh. I had to ask him to draw something appropriate for school but secretly thought it was funny. These are the little things that make me smile and make my day better.

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Art Lesson for Kids: Canvas Colorfield Art Journals

So, I’ve started my after-school art class at the elementary school where I teach. At first, I was nervously checking the office for completed registration forms and worried I wouldn’t have enough students BUT lo, and behold, I reached my limit of 20 students and went past it, ending up with 24 students in 2nd-4th grade!
In our first class, students created their own art journals using the “colorfield” technique of abstract painting and canvas. I found this lesson on Dick Blick’s website. Here is the link: http://www.dickblick.com/lesson-plans/color-field-sketchbook/
The finished art journals should end up looking something like this:

The kids LOVED making their journals but it was a little messy. I spent a good two hours after they left scrubbing the paint from the tables, stools, and floor. So, just wanted to CAUTION you if you plan on doing this with kids (or even if you do it for yourself) you will need LOTS of old newspaper, or trash bags, and paper towels. 
So, how to make these lovely journals you ask? All you need are various colors of acrylic paints, unprimed canvas, plastic cups, an empty spray bottle and some paint brushes. 
* For each color you want to use, squirt about tablespoon of paint into a disposable cup and then put about a tablespoon of water in the cup (less water for darker colors) and mix with a paintbrush until smooth. Choose 3 or 4 colors you want to use (remember that mixing more than 3 colors together in one place will create a brownish blah color) 
* Fill the spray bottle with water and spray sections of your canvas (this will help create the swirly patterns when the colors mix together with the water and the dry canvas). 
* Pour onto the canvas! 
Experiment with different colors and different “pouring techniques.” Try pouring from far away, to create a splash pattern. Use a paintbrush to flick a spatter pattern, or pour colors, then tip the canvas up, so that the colors create a “raindrop” or “drip” pattern. 
* Be careful of using too much water, or pouring too much, because it will pool on the canvas and mix with all the other colors to create an unpleasant brownish color. 
I spent way to much time on mine…I used a lot of white paint, because I found that it brightened the colors and kept it from becoming to dark. Here’s how mine turned out….I am sure if I was to make another one, it would be completely different. 
I think next time, I want to try a more simple approach; using only 2 or 3 colors and not worrying so much if there was blank canvas. 
These are just a few of the outcomes from my students..I love how unique and colorful they all turned out. I can see their individual personalities in the colors they used and how they mixed them: 

Binding these guys is a whollllle other story!

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fun and easy art activity for kids

I love melted rocks. Melted rocks rock. I did this art activity with two 6 and 7 year old boys and I think I enjoyed it more than they did (probably because I wouldn’t let them touch the hot rocks…and you know how boys are…they only want to do what they aren’t allowed to do:) ).  Something about the simplicity of the activity and watching the crayon melt and mix and swirl with the other colors is so relaxing.

You will need:

  • smooth rocks- pick out some rocks from your garden (preferably smooth rocks with flattened tops) or you can buy a bag of river rocks from a craft supply store for fairly cheap. 
  • crayons- The Crayola brand work perfectly fine…I had some oil pastels I also tried using…a few of them worked, the more thicker and more expensive they were, the LESS they worked because they didn’t melt as easy and didn’t mix with the other crayons. ALTHOUGH, saying that, one gold oil pastel I had from Blicks art store turned out to be the best. So, try a few different types and experiment. 
  • an oven- or access to one. 
  • An oven mitts (those babies come out of the oven hot) 
  • Foil paper
  • a large (and preferably old and well used) baking tray
Instructions: 
  •  Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit 
  • Wash off and dry the rocks if you grabbed them from the garden
  • Peel the paper off the crayons you want to use 
  • Put foil paper on the oven tray (to keep any melted crayons from getting on the tray)
  • Place the rocks on the tray and put them in the oven for at least 15 minutes (the hotter they are the better) 
  • Take the rocks out using the oven mitt (if you are doing this with children make sure to warn them NOT to place their hands directly onto the rock because they will born themselves) and place them on paper plates or foil sheets
  • Put the crayon onto the surface of the rock and push down firmly for a few moments. Use several different colors to get a colorful effect. 
  • Let them cool. 

and WHALAAA! Glorious- beautimus rocks!

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where have i been??

okay, laugh if you want…but this weekend I found out about A.T.C’s for the first time ever! I can’t believe it has taken me this long to get it in on this wondrous artistic movement. Maybe this is old news to you but A.T.C’s (or Artist’s Trading Cards) are these lovely little baseball card sized pieces of artwork that artists then trade with friends, family and artists around the globe!

Here are just a few of some the amazing cards I found and love:

an incredible way to organize cards via http://ramblingrose.typepad.com/journal/sprapodex/

The only rule to A.T.C’s are that they must be 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ in size. But that’s it. I stumbled upon ATCs while I was looking for some good art lessons for an after school art club curriculum I am putting together for 2nd through 4th graders. I found an art lesson on the subject of ATC’s on Dick Blick’s website: http://www.dickblick.com/lesson-plans/atc-artist-trading-cards/ (They have so many amazing art lessons).  After looking over the lesson and getting excited about the idea….I then googled ATCs and it was like a hidden (or I guess not so hidden) world of ATC artists, galleries, international swaps, ideas, ect. Needless to say, I spent about 6 hours glued to my laptop (nothing new there I guess) and then another 6 hours trying to make some samples…and I am hooked. HOOKED!

And of course, you didn’t think I could spend so much time falling in love with these things without trying some out for myself…so here are my first attempts at ATC cards:

So…if you are interested here are some websites that I found along the way…..


Also, if you are interested in a swap or know of any swaps I would LOVE to be apart of that. Also, probably in the spring of 2012, I will have a group of elementary aged kids who would love to swap with other kids (preferabbly not in Illinois).

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gum on my shoe.

wow. Has it really been four years since my life changing journey to the Phillipines?
it is truly shocking how quickly time goes by but how some moments in life stick with you like gum on the bottom of your shoes; always there, always a part of you, always waiting for you to take a fork and to pick at the memories left behind….

the philippines wasn’t gum on my shoe, it was more than that and will always be one of the purest and clear times of my life…in a way, its sad that the phillipines didn’t play a bigger role in my life than i thought it would at one point, i saw myself there, cooking beef patties and sweating through typhoons, but life moves and we move with it.

i close my eyes and when i open them, four years have past, and i have to ask myself where i have landed.

and i’m here. in chicago. a quick summary of the important parts of those four years include: meeting and marrying the man of my dreams, mark, enrolling in grad school in chicago for a masters in elementary education, getting Henri (my wacky miniature dachsund), and now student teaching in a 5th grade class in evanston.

and im back. I wanted a place to reflect on my teaching, a place maybe where i can learn and hear from other educators, past educators, (or hopefully soon to be teachers like me), learn from them, or just to write this all down for myself, even if nobody else cares. and post my shiyza out into cyberspace to clang about and make noise with millions of others who occasionally have the urge to blog it up. like me..

…i am a life long learner. so the title stays and i like it, b.c. its true, and im here again. searching for truth, meaning, knowledge, understanding. and how to deal with seventeen 10 and 11 year olds who only care about Twilight, or miley whats-a-doodle, and their cell phones(!!?!) and facebook.