Lost It

You should start writing again they say.

Well, “They” say a lot, and I generally shrug off what “They” say with my usual degree of self- absorbed laziness and a plethora of not-so-well thought out excuses, but maybe “They” have a point.

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There’s an age old saying that probably dates back to Old Testament times when God granted Moses the power to do some stuff, and he responded with “Nuh uh. I can’t do that stuff…” To which God replied, “I gave you the ability to do stuff, Moses, now go forth and do some stuff….’cuz if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.”

Or something like that.

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If you don’t use it you’ll lose it.

There they are. Those ancient, dusty words…

And maybe I have lost it.

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Oops. Wrong kind of “lost it”.

Anyhow, at times I can almost physically feel it slipping away…that passion I once had for weaving random verbiage into something mildly entertaining, the way that a kindergartner might weave some fuzzy strips of overstuffed, booger-laden yarn into a pot holder for Mother’s Day. It’s at those times that I give in to the self doubt, and then mentally beat myself up with the assurance that it’s most certainly gone by now…

But then, here we are, and just like that rambunctious little monster that hasn’t been quite right in the head since he was old enough to talk simply has to stick his tongue on the electric fence just to see what happens, I, of course, have to find out.

Who knows? Maybe I do still harbor a glimmer of that former key-stroking glory that once had my adoring one and a half fans so enraptured by my oozing charm and insatiable wit…

Or maybe it’s just a slow night for prime-time programming.

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At any rate, let’s consider this a little “stick my toe in the water” test to see if it’s warm enough to dive back into this vast blog ocean once again.

I’ll either sink or swim.

Or get eaten by something really big with sharp teeth.

So check in occasionally for random (and probably highly infrequent because the crazy lady now has a full time job) installments of really inane babbling that will probably leave you having “lost it” yourself.

Until next time…

Here’s a napkin.

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Sop up that drool.

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Unconventional Canines

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I’ve always been a dog lover and even used to want one of my own.

I’ve filed that idea away for the time being, though.

My husband had said no to a dog for many years because of his allergies. Then one day, out of the blue he agreed that I could finally get the Dachshund that I had always been begging him for, as long as he didn’t have to walk it or clean up after it. I said, “What about your allergies?” To which he replied, “Benadryl.”

So, I had immersed myself in a search for a canine companion. I had been searching rescue websites and asking around for about a week, when 2 things happened.

First of all, Ray happened. Ray Darr. The rabbit that, I have surmised, was probably found abandoned because Satan had thrown the hairy little troublemaker out of hell. My husband declared that if Ray stayed, the idea of getting a dog was out.

Then my step daughter’s dog Athena came to spend a night at our house.

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When I stuck my head into the girls’ room that night, the smell of dog was so overwhelming that my anxiety went through the roof. That’s when I realized that while I may have made great strides of improvement in the OCD department, my issues still weren’t ready to face dog ownership.

I was rather saddened by this until my daughter pointed out that we do, in fact, have dogs. Two of them. They just don’t bark or need to be taken outside regularly like your customary canines, which makes them that much better.

You see, Ray Darr thinks he’s a dog.

He digs holes:

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Yeah, don’t try to look innocent.

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He goes for rides:

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He gives kisses:

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He has his own harness and leash so we can take him for walks, where he knocks people down and jumps on them:

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Then, if he doesn’t claw the flesh right off your legs begging when he knows you have food of any kind, he just plain steals it:

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So you see he’s not really a rabbit, he’s just a rabbit-shaped dog.

And then there’s Lizzie:

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Now, don’t let her lack of fur fool you. She’s just your average pooch in so many ways.

She’ll flop down on top of her house for afternoon naps:

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She’ll lie in awkward positions:

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She’ll climb on top of things that she shouldn’t:

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(I guess the secret’s out. Now you know who writes most of my blog posts.)

She’ll knock stuff over and then look guilty:

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You can put food on top of her head and command her to stay:

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And she begs, too. Her tank sits near our dining room table, and at dinner time, she’ll rush over to the corner, mash her little face up against the glass, and start clawing until we notice her.

Then, either me or my bleeding heart, animal junkie daughter or will get her out and let her join us for dinner:

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Yep, that’s the dinner scene most nights at our house.

She’ll eat pretty much anything, too, because she’s just a dog in a lizard suit.

So I guess, in reality, I am a dog owner.

No matter how unconventional my canines happen to be.

Halloweening on a Budget

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Well folks, it’s almost that time of year again.

That time of year when our kids beg us for expensive costumes that they’re only going to wear for about 2 hours, while they go door to door begging for candy like a band of street urchins.

Now, the candy part I like. If I don’t send them out begging for candy, how else am I going to steal all of the good stuff like Kit Kats and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and leave them with junk like Necco Wafers and that nasty chewy peanut butter taffy? (Seriously people, stop even buying those things, they just end up in the garbage or at the end of some kid’s slingshot.)

It’s just the buying costumes part that tries to throw a monkey wrench into my devious, candy thieving plan. We haven’t been able to afford a store-bought costume in years, because we just happen to be certifiably, duct-tape-your-shoes, Ramen-five-nights-a-week, wear-your-undies-until-there’s-more-holes-than-actual-fabric poor. So, we’ve just managed to make do with what we have.

We’re so poor, in fact, that one year we cut some arm and leg holes into a trash bag, stuck some wadded up paper and wrappers to my son’s head, and took him to an upscale neighborhood, (you know, the kind where they give out candy that didn’t come from the dollar store) where he went door to door proudly proclaiming, “I’m poor white trash.”

Don’t judge. It worked. Not only did the kid win a costume contest that year, but he even got double the candy out of sympathy, and it only cost us a trash bag.

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So, lack of funding during this time of year has forced us to get quite imaginative when it comes to costume creating. Call it Halloweening on a budget. We make it work, though.

I thought I’d highlight a few of my favorite past costume creations for you; my adoring one and a half fans. In honor of the upcoming festivities.

May you be inspired.

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Let’s start with this work of art that we like to call “Stepped in Bubble Gum.” This one happens to be one of my all time favorites. It was cheap, easy, and won him another costume contest. One of his sisters had the pink shirt and pants already, and I drew tire tracks and footprints on them with a sharpie. We found the pink hat at the thrift store, and I sewed one of my old shoes to the top of it. Voila! The kid was transformed into a wad of ABC bubble gum. (That’s “already been chewed” for those who aren’t in the know.)

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We all know that money doesn’t grow on trees, but sometimes it does for Halloween!

I had alot of fun with this one. The fake foliage, headband, and play money all came from the dollar store. I got a pack of brown pipe cleaners from Wal-mart to twist into little branches, and we found the brown gloves at the thrift store. I sewed some of the leaves and money onto the finger tips of the gloves, attached the remaining leaves and money to the ends of the pipe cleaners, wound them around the headband to look like branches, and sewed a couple of the makeshift branches onto the shoulders of the shirt. I even found a rubber dragonfly hiding out in my bins of craft supplies, and sewed it to the front  of the shirt. All in all, we spent about 6 bucks to make this costume.

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This costume didn’t cost us a dime. She was going through a goth phase so she already had most of this stuff in her closet  anyway. She threw together a few of her items to make a dark fairy costume, and the wings just happened to be hand-me-downs that I found stuffed in the back of my closet from some Halloween years ago:

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I pieced that together, too, but don’t ask me what I was. No clue.

Oh, and by the way:

Tree hugging fairy!!!

Sorry, just had to throw that in there.

Moving right along:

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The Low Budget Ninja.

Michelle Phan (love her) has this awesome little YouTube video called “Be a Ninja In 30 Seconds…I Think“. She basically teaches you how to take a black t-shirt and turn it into an instant ninja mask. That’s what we did for this costume, and then we just went through closets until we found some black garb to complete the ensemble. He had the weapons already because, well…he’s a boy. Grand total spent on this costume: nothing.

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Uh oh. Looks like Mr. Ninja stepped in some gum.

Anyway…

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Who doesn’t love a zombie girl, especially when she’s eating her daddy’s brain? This corpsie cutie made her costume herself. She cut up a shirt and some jeans to look like they had slash marks, added some fake blood and face make up, and her undead look had suddenly come alive. This costume only cost a few bucks for a tube of fake blood and some face paint.

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The following year my daughter was going through an “Everything Batman” phase and decided that she wanted to be Batgirl. So, I got this little slip-type skirt that I cut up from the Salvation Army store for a buck along with the shirt which was 3 dollars. I got the fabric for 5 dollars at hobby lobby, cut out the wings, and sewed them along the side seams of the shirt. I then sewed the tips of the wings to a couple of her rings so that she wouldn’t have to hold them.  We found the mask for a couple of bucks at a Halloween store. She already had the belt which was a gift from her dad I think, and the boots were borrowed. We probably invested about 12 dollars total into making this costume, which is pretty good considering the fact that when we looked at Batgirl costumes in the store, they were 40-50 dollars! Yikes!

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What good is a superhero without her trusty sidekick?

I had found this plain green shirt and little red slip-skirt at the Salvation Army store for a few dollars as well. I cut up the skirt to match her batty counterpart’s ensemble. I bought some t-shirt paint at Hobby Lobby for 4 bucks and painted the Robin symbol on the front of her shirt. I then found some red, green, and yellow fabric pieces in the craft section of the thrift store that I used to manage. I used them to make the cape that I sewed onto the shoulder seams of her shirt, and also her green armbands, and her belt. The mask was a couple of dollars at Walmart, and she already had the boots. The total spent on this costume was around 10 dollars.

Off to fight some crime, ladies?

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Go get those candy bandits!

Alrighty then.

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Mr. Gangster here was a last minute throw together costume because we really had no other ideas. The pinstripe suit was given to him by some friends of ours, and I used an eyebrow pencil to draw on a snazzy little beard. Don’t worry son, you’ll be growing facial hair of your own soon enough.

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Last year my daughter opted for a mother nature look. I’d say we only put about 5 dollars into creating this costume with the purchase of the make-up. I used an eyebrow pencil, metallic gold eye shadow, and metallic green eyeliner to paint the design on her face. A friend had given her the fake fall leaves that she used to weave into her corded belt and make into a circlet for her head. The shirt and cover-up she already had, and the skirt was a part of my old renaissance costume:

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Uh…yeah. Old school.

And then there was Juliet:

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Okay. I’m no great seamstress, but with the added help of a plain white skirt and some gold-trimmed pink velvet ribbon, I managed to recycle an old church choir robe into a work of art. I accented the ensemble with a teardrop shaped pearl bead tied to a piece of gold ribbon to adorn her forehead. All of the items for this costume were found in the thrift store that I used to manage, so the only thing it cost me to make this costume was time.

Now, these last few low budget costumes weren’t necessarily for Halloween, but I’ll throw them in with the mix anyway because they were just so much fun to create:

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Even better than the Von Trapp family is…well…mine.

You see, we had this “World Nations” dinner at church and we were supposed to dress up in a costume that represented a country of our choosing. Since I’m of German decent, I naturally chose to piece together a few German costumes for the fam. All of the clothing and fabric that I used for these costumes I found in the thrift store. I sewed their cute little hats out of felt pieces and ribbon. I dissected an old fashioned ruffled shirt and added the sleeves to my vest and some of the lace to my step-daughter’s shirt. We found some plain white skirts that fit and used some gold cloth place mats as aprons. I made the suspender pieces out of fabric and wide ribbon and sewed them to pairs of shorts that we already had to make Lederhosen.  Ja!

And there you have it folks!

This year we’re working on an awesome Alice costume for my daughter. My son is going to be the Mad Hatter, and Ray Darr, the worlds worst excuse for a pet rabbit is going to be the March Hare.

Stay tuned for those pics. It’s going to be fabulous!

Happenings in the Hood: A Kitty Conundrum

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There’s an epidemic currently sweeping through the hood with a vengeance. I like to refer to this epidemic as “Stray Cat Fever”.

You see, the property that my husband manages has now become overrun with cats. You couldn’t even spit without hitting a feral cat. There’s probably around 2 dozen or so that hang around the breezeways, bushes, and air conditioning units; fighting, breeding, and throwing wild raucous parties until all hours of the night.

People around the property will put food out for them out of kindness, but of course it just keeps them hanging around.

One might wonder where they’ve all come from, but then when you take a closer look and see the various degrees of growth within the cat population you realize: there’s more kitty inbreeding that has taken place in recent months than you might find in even the most remote band of Ozarkian Hillfolk.

If you’ve ever thought that the stereotypical breeding rabbit tales held any measure of truth, I can assure you; they’ve got nothing on cats. A sweep of the bushes around the property on any given day will likely turn up a litter or two. I’ve lost track of how many litters of kittens we’ve found either behind AC fences, under bushes, under the propane tank, or even in the laundry room behind the washing machines.

We have been known to round up a litter occasionally and find them homes, but we’ve pretty much exhausted our supply of bleeding heart adoptees. Now my husband will generally ignore each new batch that he stumbles upon in hopes that they will eventually just wander away, but the epidemic has gotten so out of hand that it can no longer be ignored. Some of the smaller, not quite fully grown cats are getting up under the hoods of peoples cars and causing all sorts of mischief.

Yep, kitty population control has become quite a conundrum. There’s no real solution, either, as I found out after making a few phone calls today.

City animal control will come and round them up, take them to get fixed, and then bring them right back to where they got them from and release them. This will take care of the breeding problem of course, but then we still have a ton of feral cats running around the property.

It’s the only option we seem to have with the adult cats, though, so my husband intends to get animal control out as soon as possible to do what they do.

But then there’s the kittens.

After finding a fresh batch of kittens hanging out behind one of the buildings today, my daughter and I got this brilliant idea that we would gather them up in a box so that she could take them into the office with her and get her kitty fix for the rest of the afternoon.

I’ve had better ideas in my lifetime, believe me.

You see, my daughter just happens to be an animal addict. She’s a junkie for anything with 4 legs and a tail. If she goes for more than a few hours without loving on some critter, she visibly shakes and even drools a little until she can get her next dose of cuddles.  It’s a disturbing display, and I’m a terrible mother because I’ll actually feed her addiction.

Which I did as usual today.

So now we had this box of kittens that we’d gathered up, and my husband’s response to our box full of cuteness was, “You’re not putting them back on my property now that you’ve caught them!”

Uh oh. We weren’t thinking that far in advance when we just wanted to cuddle kittens.

Well then.

I made a few more calls and not one single animal adoption agency in Jacksonville will take in stray kittens because they’re all currently overrun with unwanted domestics. Humane society won’t take in drop-offs, either. They put you on a waiting list first, and then you’re likely stuck with the unwanted animal for weeks until they decide to take it.

Great.

So I tried one last number at about 5:30 today and got ahold of a lady that gave me some very helpful advice that actually worked!

She was with another adoption agency that of course could not take the kittens, either, but she was really kind and tried to help me the best she could under the circumstances. Here’s what she suggested I do:

“Don’t call the Humane Society, but instead take your box of kittens directly to their adoption center and tell them that it was left in the laundry room of the property. Inform them that they can’t stay there, and that you’re unable to care for them yourself for any length of time for whatever reason.”

Well, I didn’t need to come up with a reason as to why we couldn’t keep them. They really can’t stay with us; my husband is insanely allergic to anything with fur. We’re even pushing the limits of what his sinuses can handle by allowing Ray Darr, the world’s worst excuse for a pet rabbit stay in the girls’ room across the house.

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I really hated to lie about the rest, though, and don’t make a habit of lying. Lying is wrong and I know this. Telling this little fib to the Humane Society went against everything I stand for, but a bind is a bind and I had gotten myself into one. For the good of the helpless little critters in question, I did as advised.

The only other problem, though, was that the Humane Society closed at 6. After battling traffic to get there, we managed to make it with just 5 minutes to spare. They agreed to take the kittens after hearing our *gulp* lie, but there was no one left there to process the admission. So, the really nice lady that was closing up told us to bring them back first thing in the morning, and she would even leave a note explaining to the morning staff that we’d be bringing them in. She suggested that we maybe keep them in a bathroom or something just for tonight for the sake of my husband’s allergies.

So, until 11 a.m. tomorrow morning, we have a box full of kittens.

My daughter is floating along on a kitten high for the time being.

Cute little buggers, aren’t they?

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I bet they’ll have no problem finding homes.

Bacon Nation

Daily Prompt: 2100

The language of the future: what will it be like? Write an experimental post using some imagined vocabulary — abbreviations, slang, new terms.

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There’s this new Facebook game going around in which you’re encouraged to replace one word of any movie title with the word bacon.

This of course only works with movie titles that are more than one word long, as my son and I soon discovered.

The boy, being 11 (almost 12) decided that this is now his new favorite game, and on our drive home from work yesterday, he started musing to himself over this whole bacon bit of fun. I, of course, added my 2 salty cents, and before we knew it, we were embroiled in a contest to see who could come up with the most amazing bacon movie title.

I was admittedly in the lead with “Mr. Magorium’s Bacon Emporium” and “Percy Jackson and the Bacon Thief”, both of which he found uproariously funny, until he, after about 20 seconds of silence and some careful, face scrunching consideration, blurted out, “Harry Bacon”. We both laughed the remaining mile home. I conceded. The kid won by a landslide.

Then I got to thinking about this amazing little game and the awesomeness of bacon. What if bacon becomes so big, that someday, we’ve replaced every adjective and verb with the word bacon, just like the Smurfs always did with the name of their race. Bank tellers would send us off with a smile and encourage us to, “Have a bacony day!”

What if bacon became currency?! Bacon bits could be spare change, of course, and our wealth could be counted in terms of how many slabs we have. Okay maybe that wouldn’t work; we’d always be eating up our assets.

Bacon could become so huge, though, that it replaces all other amazing things in life. Like hugs and kisses. Can’t you just see yourself holding your arms out to your spouse as they walk through the door, saying, “Come on over here and give me some bacon.”

What? It could work.

There’s a whole bacony world out there, just waiting to be explored. I’m betting that bacon will become so big someday,  that I can almost taste the future.

Just some food for thought.

Collaborating With My Kid

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On a recent trip to Michigan to visit my parents that included my husband, daughter, son, and one of my step-daughters, we found ourselves attending my cousin’s college graduation party. It was just a simple outdoor gathering with a barbecue style buffet spread.

While there, there was an item made available to the gathered guests and children that caught my ever-artistic daughter’s eye:

Sidewalk chalk.

She proceeded to grab the bucket of chalk and set to work doodling on the cement driveway.

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This eventually led to her working on a detailed picture of one of her favorite things to draw:

Her “Mushies”.

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Being the huge Alice in Wonderland fanatic that she is, she loves mushrooms, and she loves to draw colorful and creative pictures of whatever toadstools her imagination can work up; among other things, of course. She has a very vivid imagination.

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So there she was down on her knees, diligently working on her chalky cement creation while other party-goers were slowly packing up and heading out one by one. The party was coming to an end, and my husband and parents were trying to hurry my daughter along so that we could leave soon ourselves.

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My child, however, takes after her mother in that she’s not only an artist, but a perfectionist as well, and walking away from an unfinished work of art just isn’t an option for her. I understand this incessant need to finish a masterpiece while others may not.

In a crunch for time, however, I bent down and asked, “Would you like me to help?”

She responded with a relieved “yes,” and we proceeded to finish the creation together that she had started herself.

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Now, in the artistic world, one does not simply allow other people to dip their hands into one’s creative cookie jar. This is especially true with me and my daughter, considering how seriously we take each project that we set our minds to. There has to be complete trust in another person’s artistic abilities to even consider allowing them to touch your own masterpiece.

My daughter and I share a bond that goes deeper than just mother and child, though. We share an artistic bond, in that we have almost the exact same sense of artistic style, imagination, and ability. We have complete trust in one another artistically, and often times, we’ll find ourselves working together or running ideas by each other on any given project.

We collaborate well, and we complement each other quite nicely. It means a lot to me that I’m the only one on this earth that she trusts enough to touch her work. This goes both ways.

We recently worked together on a project to rework a beat up old gun rack that had been kicking around the thrift store for almost a year into a sword rack for my step-son. My husband screwed a wooden plaque on the front for us, and I painted the whole thing black. I had intended to paint some sort of Asian dragon design on it, but I asked my daughter if she would be willing to do it instead, because I knew it would turn out just as well if she did it.

And it did.

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I look forward to collaborating on many more future projects with my kiddo. As a matter of fact, we’re wracking our brains even now trying to come up with something amazing that we can work on together. I have a few ideas. You’ll have to stick around if you want to see what we come up with.

I told her yesterday that I was throwing her out of my art class. Not because I don’t love her, of course, but because she’s just way too advanced. Then I decided to let her stay, but only as my assistant. I think that would be a much better arrangement, don’t you?

A Ray of Artshine

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So, after wracking my brain to come up with a fun, low budget idea for my art class tomorrow, I came up with this. My mom made something similar many years ago and I sort of stole her idea.

You simply cut paper plates in half and paint them whatever color you like. Once they dry, hot glue them in a circular fan pattern. Then paint an uncut paper plate and hot glue it in the center. You can draw or paint a face on the center plate if you like, or leave it plain. Then attach a piece of yarn to the back and you have a super cute and creative wall decoration.

Not only was it an inexpensive project because the paints only cost 57 cents a bottle at Wal Mart, and the only other materials needed are paper plates and glue, but it’s also a great lesson in color mixing for the kids. I intend to supply them with only the primary colors plus white and black, and they will need to mix them to create oranges or purples or whatever colors they decide on.

Hopefully they’ll have fun with it.