DIY Girls Princess Skirt

February 16, 2014

Originally posted on DIY Mountain Mamma:

This is a child’s princess skirt.  I made it about knee length, buy you could choose whatever length you’d like.  I used one piece of fabric for the band (where the elastic goes) and two for the body of the skirt, a tulle piece and a silky piece (polyester).  You could eliminate the tulle piece and just use the silky piece (or two) if desired.  This is a good skirt for extra pieces of fabric.
Princess Skirt over Snowsuit

Princess Skirt over Snowsuit

Measurements:

Take measurements of waist, hips at the widest point and waist to desired length.

To Make the Band:

Band width:   3 ¼

Band length:   hip measurement + 1 ¼  (seam allowance) x 1.25= BL

Tulle and fabric overlay measurements:

Length:  waist to desired length + 1 ¼ seam allowance.

Width:  Band Length * 1.6.  This is an approximate value, the larger the multiplier, the more poofy the skirt, 1.3, would…

View original 315 more words


Book Review – Warriors on the Ice

January 29, 2014

Originally posted on DIY Mountain Mamma:

This is a great book for the hockey fan in your life, or even a non-hockey fan like myself.  The book is written by a Montana author who personally interviewed 30 former hockey tough guys.  Each interview is chock full of great stories and fun insights into the sport.  I thought that the tough guy’s views on the safety changes that are occurring in the game were particularly interesting.  This book was fun and entertaining, I laughed out loud in multiple places – and I’m not a hockey fan, so I can only imagine how amusing the book would be to a long time follower of the sport.  This book gets two thumbs up and is highly recommended!

View original


DIY Fold Over Clutch

December 23, 2013

Originally posted on DIY Mountain Mamma:

I made this as a gift for a friend.  It is similar to the fuzzy clutch pattern with a few modifications…

Fold Over Clutch

Fold Over Clutch

It is super cute, but I sent it off so quick, I didn’t get to take great pictures.  Of course I made it last minute and had to run to the post office.  Hopefully if you’re gifting this you don’t have to mail it!

Materials:

13’’ x 13’’ Canvas, outdoor fabric, burlap or another medium weight fabric

12’’ zipper (I used a recycled zip, worked just fine)

13’’ x 13’’Liner material, poly blend, cotton, whatever you like, I used a purple poly blend.

Light weight fusible interfacing (for lining)

I cut my patterns out of tissue paper, like the kind you get in presents.  I learned the hard way not to use colored tissue if you are using an iron with a steam function.  Even a…

View original 759 more words


What high school kids want

September 4, 2013
Students in the Overture Center during High School Friday 2012. Photo by Jessica Becker

Students in the Overture Center during High School Friday 2012. Photo by Jessica Becker

“The first reason why I chose to go on this field trip was to miss school. When I got there, I discovered it was actually super interesting.” So said a 16 year-old high school student in reflecting on her day at High School Friday during the Wisconsin Book Festival.

This year is the third year the Wisconsin Humanities Council, where I work, is sponsoring a free day of programs for high school students at the Wisconsin Book Festival. One hundred and fifty kids will come to downtown Madison on Friday, October 18 for this incredible opportunity to engage in the civic and cultural life of our city. Authors, journalists, poets, multi-media artists, and spoken word artists are bringing their stories and real-world experiences together for a groovy day of exchange, exposure, and memory-making.

The day provides an eclectic mix of voices, perspectives, and ideas that will be thought-provoking and inspiring. I can promise that some of the things said, heard, and seen, will stick in some of those kids’ heads and push them in new, and positive, directions. Humanities experiences make an impact, though the effect tends to ripple and roll and reach into unplanned nooks and crannies of the mind.

We all know that what sticks in one person’s head is not what is going to stick in another person’s head.  Impact is uneven and unpredictable. Some moments, some books, some teachers, some students, and some experiences end up having more impact than others. And that is perhaps the one TRUTH about education.

“The Romans didn’t let people study the humanities, not the people they had conquered. You know that, right?” my husband asked me the other night, out of the blue.

He is one of the most well-rounded, well-read analytical chemists you’d care to meet.  Amazingly, he still remembers so much of what he learned in high school.

He and I proceeded to talk about how the study of philosophy, ethics, and history would be kept from those they wanted to keep subservient for obvious reasons. An educated citizen is a more powerful one, more inclined toward big ideas, more likely to sway opinions, more prepared for leadership roles.

I married a chemist though I somehow got through high school without taking a chemistry class (He is responsible for pouring things in our house!).  I opted instead for languages, art classes, and uncommon experiences. I don’t really remember (m)any of the facts I surely must have encountered along the way, but I grew up to be a true humanist. The humanities in the real world means being intrigued by difference, looking for ways to connect ideas, being curious to hear other perspectives, and staying wary of any fact out of context.

I value those skills and wish them for teens and everyone.

As we crafted the schedule for the annual High School Friday, we were well aware of the Standards that  high school teachers must use to shape their lesson plans. Specifically, the Social and Emotional Learning Standards for grades 9-12:

Respect Others: Students will identify positive ways to express understanding of differing perspectives and use conversational skills to determine the perspectives of others.

Civic Responsibility: Students will evaluate the impact of their involvement as agents of positive change and analyze their responsibilities as positive agents of change in a democratic society.

Yes, bring on the humanities. And the Wisconsin Book Festival! October 17-20, four full days of conversation, inspiration, and opportunity to participate in civil society!

The schedule for High School Friday includes hip-hop and spoken word performers from the UW-Madison First Wave program, female sportscaster and author Jessie Garcia, the dynamic trio of artists/librarians/authors from “The Library as Incubator” project, blog, and book, and multi-media experts from the Madison Public Library media lab. Every participant will go home with a library card and knowledge about how to make the public library a source of continued inspiration, access, and power.

Please contact me by October 1, 2013 if you know some high school students from the Madison area who would like to attend!

by Jessica Becker
Director of Public Programs, Wisconsin Humanities Council


Artists invade environments

August 4, 2013

Four of Wisconsin’s fascinating art environments have got a great event for artists coming soon.  Actually the Wandering Wisconsin Plein Air Competition has something for everyone, regardless of whether you are an artist, would like to learn or just enjoy the outdoors and unique hidden places.  Spend an August weekend. 

The painting competition is for artists of all ages.  Two sites will host the event on August 10 and 11 and the other two on August 17/18.  For those who’d like to learn or hone their skills, there will be work

Art by Robert Tarrell

Art by Robert Tarrell

shops on painting in the Plein-Air style on the same-size canvas.  For experienced painters, there’s a competition with cash prizes; no entrance fee.  Work must be on postcard-sized canvases/boards (4” X 6”) and feature facets of the host environment.  Artists can bring their own materials and materials will be provided if you need them.

On August 10th and 11th you can visit Nick Engelbert’s Grandview near Hollandale in Iowa County or James Tellen’s Woodland Garden near Sheboygan.  Grandview is a beautiful rural site, almost equidistant between New Glarus and Mineral Point on Highway 39 in southern Wisconsin.  The Tellen site is nestled in the woods in the town of Wilson just south of Sheboygan. 

The next weekend’s events will be at the Painted Forest in tiny Valton in Sauk County and Fred Smith’s Wisconsin Concrete Park in Phillips.  Just the drive to Valton is worth the time – it is a secluded, gorgeous place well off the beaten path (check your Gazeteer!).  The Wisconsin Concrete Park is known to many as the granddaddy of Wisconsin’s art environments, and includes over 200 outstanding sculptures created by lumberjack Fred Smith, who once said, “It’s gotta be in ya’ to do it.”  Isn’t that the truth?

The competition starts at 8:00 am Saturdays and ends on Sunday at 4 pm.  Judging will occur Sunday at 4:00 pm.  Each environment has a slightly different twist in schedules so contact them in advance if you need to be sure of something.

August 10-11

Nick Engelbert’s Grandview, 7351 State Highway 39, Hollandale, WI (Iowa County, 9 miles east of Mineral Point).  Email: grandview@nicksgrandview.com

James Tellen’s Woodland Sculpture Garden, 5634 Evergreen Drive, Sheboygan, WI, Email wandeingwisconsin@jmkac.org

August 17-18

Ernest Hupeden’s Painted Forest, Painted Forest Drive, Valton, WI  (just east of Cazenovia), Email: wanderingwisconsin@jmkac.org

Fred Smith’s Wisconsin Concrete Park, N8236 Highway 13, Phillips, WI, Email: fofs@pctcnet.net

Monkey Tree at Grandview

Monkey Tree at Grandview

Each site will award three prizes each for three age groups: Children up to 13 (first prize is $50), young adults 13-18 (first prize – $150) and adults (first prize – $300).  Better yet, photographs will be taken of each event’s winning entries and automatically entered in a statewide competition with the same prize categories and amounts.

Workshop schedules vary a bit so contact the sites.  Grandview will have a workshop in the morning each day – a great experience for the kids.  Two sites offer camping but all have lodging nearby if you want to make a weekend of it.  Grandview will feature the Moo Grass String Band from 4-6 pm on Sunday August 11th – bring a lawn chair and your favorite beverage.  Snacks will be available.

For more information and competition guidelines contact the individual sites or email wanderingwisconsin@jmkac.org.

James Tellen's Woodland Sculpture Garden

James Tellen’s Woodland Sculpture Garden

Wandering Wisconsin is a program of the Wisconsin Art Environment Consortium, a group representing nine art environments, including the Carl Peterson Garden, Dickeyville Grotto, Rudolf Grotto Gardens and Wonder Cave, Paul and Matilda Wegner Grotto, and the Prairie Moon Sculpture Garden and Museum.

And it’s all free, how about that?  Thanks to sponsor the Kohler Foundation you can bring a carload to this family event and have the neighbors join you.    

The Wandering Wisconsin Plein Air Competition has something for everyone – fun for the whole family!  And it’s a great way to become acquainted with some of Wisconsin’s unique treasures, which you’ll want to visit again and again.

Rick Rolfsmeyer, Hollandale, WI (pop. 288)


The meaning of life

July 22, 2013
Prairie Flowers

The Heart of the Matter” report riffs off recent attention given to STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering and Math) by saying the humanities are the bloom on the stem. Photo by Jessica Becker (via Instagram and facebook)

The humanities world is talking about a new report, released by The Academy of Arts & Sciences, calling attention to the importance of the humanities in 2013. I already believe the humanities are important, but it’s still nice to read editorials and listen to radio talk shows that bring together people who have done the research and given a lot of thought to these things. Like, how many people are working toward humanities degrees (only 7% according to David Brook’s NYTimes piece), what employers are looking for (curiosity, creativity, humility…), and how a humanistic approach is understood to be critical for countries working their way into first-world nation status (like China and Russia). If you don’t have time to read the report itself, there is a 7 minute video here, and after reading Mary Rizzo’s commentary suggesting the new report sounds a lot like the 1964 version, I guess I’d recommend the short-form.

Many of us would prefer the quick version. I mean, who has time for the full report? That reality has me thinking about how things have changed since 1964. I’m thinking of blogs, instagram, pinterest, twitter, tumblr, flikr and, yes, facebook.  I believe people are by nature humanists and we modern humans are on over-drive to keep up with the speed at which our world is spinning. Isn’t it all a huge humanities endeavor? Looking through my facebook newsreel today, I find people:

-reflecting on issues (“These photos are so fascinating and sad at the same time.” responding to the modern ruins in Detroit)

-reminding themselves and others to celebrate the richness of life (“First cherry tomatoes of the season will be in tomorrow’s lunchboxes.”)

-encouraging conversation around ideas (“in case you missed it, an article on what the brain can tell us about art.”).

-building community (A link to  “The City Paper” on Borracho’s new record! “We’re celebrating tonight at RnR Hotel. Come rock with us!”)

-and searching for meaning in the mundane (“This morning, as I’m trying to work at home, all I’ve heard is, “When I get my blog, I’m totally going to write about how you never change your underwear.” “When I get MY blog I’m going to post a picture of you crying like a baby.”)

I could go on, but it’s hard to look at my newsreel without getting sucked in. There is so much to comment on, share, and follow.

“The humanities” are, quite simply, the different ways we as humans have come up with for looking at the world and making meaning of it. The humanities are studied in academic disciplines (like philosophy, literature, linguistics, art history, folklore, anthropology, and history), and the report encourages folks to remember that the distinctions we have more recently (in historical time) made between the sciences, arts, and humanities are detrimental to both a real education and getting a job.

Less public money is being directed toward “the humanities” and that has a lot of us worried since how we spend our money indicates what we value.  However, I have no fear that our search for the meaning of life will wither and die. I see it everywhere in all that we do.

I’m worried that we’ll all drown in our ongoing, non-stop chatter into the e-niverse about how meaningful every little thing is and we’ll forget how to sit still, grow bored, and wonder if life is, actually, meaningless.

The wondering, I know, is worthy.

by Jessica Becker (why not follow me on Instagram?)
Director of Public Programs, Wisconsin Humanities Council

Instagram


Doing it for the kids

June 19, 2013
Wayne Valliere, packing canoe bark out of the birch forest, in the summer of 2012. Photo by Tim Frandy

Wayne Valliere, packing canoe bark out of the birch forest. Photo by Tim Frandy 2012

I am really concerned that kids are not getting useful and appropriate educations based on what we know to be useful and appropriate ways to educate kids. Research shows all sorts of things, and yet schools systems do other things. There are so many examples I dare not go into it (and so many reasons why, the road-blocks to change sometimes feel insurmountable). Happily, I know there are independent and creative thinkers who are working their butts off to add opportunities for meaningful and transformative experiences to the lives of youth.

The Wisconsin Humanities Council, where I work, has seven grant rounds every year. I am so proud of the projects we fund and also proud that a good number of them are designed to enrich humanities education for the youth of Wisconsin.

For example, a project called “These Canoes Carry Culture” awarded to the Goodman Community Center. This collaborative effort makes it possible for an Ojibwe artist, culture bearer and language teacher named Wayne Valliere to work side-by-side with a small group of young people from Madison and Lac du Flambeau to build a birch bark canoe. They will build it from scratch, making trips to gather materials from the particular forests and fields where the particular materials grow at a particular time of year. The kids will have time to talk to each other about what it is like to live in the city, or live on a reservation, while they are learning a disciplined craft and dying art from a master. They will read and discuss history and language and tradition, but not in a formal classroom with tests and grades. Instead, they’ll be exchanging ideas as they create, ultimately, a boat that will be on display in the new Dejope student dorm on campus.  The project brings together educators from community centers and academics from many departments at UW. It will be documented in a film and hopefully serve as a model for future community-university-folk artist partnerships. All wonderful and admirable. What most excites me is remembering what it was like to be a teenager and projecting what I imagine will be a life-altering experience for the kids involved. I believe this project will influence how these kids see the world and themselves in it, for the better.

Another inspired effort comes from Arts @ Large, a non-profit that works from within the Milwaukee School District to create “arts-infused learning.” They are responding to serious issues and producing serious outcomes that are student-led and student-centric. They have recently partnered with a group called Serve2Unite and together are creating student chapters of the organization dedicated to spreading peace through understanding, tolerance and, education.  Serve2Unite was formed after the tragedy in Oak Creek, Wisconsin on August 5, 2012 where a gunman walked into a Sikh Temple opened fire, killing six members of the 400-person congregation.  They work to fight hate in the form of bullying and other violent crimes. Arts @ Large Serve2Unite chapters will research and develop service projects so that students learn, through doing, how to be agents of change, and social wellness, in their own families an communities. I heard some of the kids who have been involved in past Arts @ Large efforts speak recently and was impressed. Here, too, I see an example of how teenagers are treated as human beings with value, life experiences, and skills to bring to the table.

We know that kids, and more immediately teenagers, are the future leaders of the world. I’m excited about projects and places where they get to shine, speak up, hone skills, teach and learn from each other, and find meaning in their lives. I want that for my kids and all the kids, everywhere.

Read more about projects funded by the Wisconsin Humanities Council here.

by Jessica Becker
Director of Public Programs
Wisconsin Humanities Council


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 49 other followers