Follow along, It'll be fun!!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Too tired to blog

I love blogging.  I miss blogging on Chalk it up!  Actually, I've been blogging a lot but just not here.  I have two new blogs.  One is for my Game Design classes and the other is for my web design class.  I blog there Monday thur Friday.  Sadly, it leaves me no energy to blog here at my comfy, homey, familiar blog Chalk it up!

Life has changed so much.  There's so much I want to share here but that would require thinking and it's Saturday, so I don't want to think. 

Although, I still find myself scouring the internet for searching for ways to teach game design to middles schoolers.

I normally would not publish a post without at least one picture.  Maybe I'll look for something to illustrate this post.  Be right back!

Here we go:


So sweet!

These beautiful photos were sent to me by one of my wonderful customers! She is a very talented professional photographer who purchased unframed chalkboards from Chalk it up! and sent me these picture to show how she is using the chalkboards!
Thank you for giving me permission to share these photo on my blog!
Thank you for the fantastic photo!

There I did it!  I posted to my favorite blog!:) I feel much better now!:)

Have a great Saturday!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Life as a Game Design Teacher


Well, I'm entering my sixth week of life as a middle school game design teacher.  On the down side my poor Chalk it up! blog has suffered.  No  time to blog.  I have been doing one post on the weekend to try stay current.  However, one post a week really does effect my traffic.:(
I hope you'll stop by on the weekend to say hi!

So life as a Game Design  Teacher...
It's fun, it's tiring, it's sometimes difficult, well not difficult but challenging. Especially since I have never taught it before and I started this job one day before school started.
Although I have taken several courses in Digital Media I had no idea what I was entering when I started delving into the world of game design.  I thought how hard can it be?  I know how to use Maya, Illustrator, Photoshop, Final cut pro, flash... Heck I even know a little bit of coding(basic html and css throw in a dash of php) How hard can it be?

Well., as I started researching I began to realize the complexity of game design.  I would search and search for way to teach game design to middle school kids.  And let me tell you, these kids enter the class and say, "So when are we going to make our own games?"


Well, let's start with the design process.  Kids think....borrrrring.  I want to make a game!!!

I search and search and find Gamestar Mechanic.  Ok here's a site totally geared (no pun intended) toward middle school kids.  It saved my life for the first five weeks.  No downloading, we register as a class(the biggest headache here is kids forgeting their passwords and user names-yes I tell them to write it down-but you know kids)

So Gamestar starts by having the kids play the games to learn the system, and elements.  Next the move up to fixing games.  Finally they make their own games sort of.  No programing no creating sprite simply drag and drop.  This site is great for an introduction to the process of design and testing games and giving feedback.  Beyond that you really don't learn much about making games.  The kids love it because it's easy and it's mostly playing games with minimal effort in creating games(which in a way is deceptive because they think this is easy)  There are a few students who get it and are not satisfied with the limitation of creating games.  Thank god for those kids. They give me hope!

So the concepts learned in the first five weeks are Design Process, What makes a game balanced and the elements of design in a game.  All important first steps.

This week we delve a little deeper.  We will be starting Scratch.  This program begins to touch alll of the areas of game design.  I still need to poke around and figure out the best way to get the most out of this software.  I'll be doing that this weekend. I will try to quickly come up with a sequential curriculum to make sense of it all.  Wish me luck!

Also, each weekend I create a new visual to display in the classroom.
Week one I painted a large Angry bird poster because someone took my stuffed angry bird.
I posted an announcement on my poster that it went missing 7th period.  The poster worked and my angry bird was returned the next day. (the power of the paint brush)
The next week I added visuals for my one web design class ( I didn't mention I'm teaching web design too. A whole different topic for another post).  I Made big HTML and CSS signs. I also printed the codes that they were learn one per page and displayed them on the cabinets.

The next week I made a big poster showing What makes a balanced game?
The kids made cartoons the first week of school on index cards and I called them preliminary sketches for avatars(to be created in and posted them on the  bulletin boards.
Last week I printed out the words Pre production, production and post production (vertically) and laminated them and attached them to the narrow polls.  I also made gears out of foam core and attached them to the tops of the polls with words explaining the three different aspects of design.  I have to take pictures of that.
Oh I forget, I made a long banner that says Creativity is key in technology.
The kids did pre production sketches yesterday.  I will be switching out the bulletin boards with the best examples from each class. I will still display the avatars on the wall next to the boards.
My goal is to have a fun visually exciting and informative classroom.

So as you can see, I've been busy.  And did I mention the fun busy work created for us do nothing teachers.  Lots of useless paper work.  I won't get into that now.

The chalkboard business is going well too.  Lots of sales!  If you need a chalkboard don't forgot to visit our etsy shop.  With hubby between jobs he's making lots of chalkboards and shipping them out fast!!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Always Remember 9/11

Never forget!

It is ten years later.
Ten years ago on this day I was in my nineth month of pregnancy with my son. I was so scared for his and my older son's futures. What was happening to America?

Ten years later...9/11 has left a scar on our beautiful country and changed it in many ways. However, the American spirit is one that is powerful and bright. Freedom is in our blood.

The evil people who have tried to shake it out of us have not succeeded. They thought they could but they will never understand the power of Freedom, Liberty and the American way of life!

We are strong people! Freedom and Goodness will always prevail.

I will observe a moment of silence with my family today in remembrance of the innocent lives lost, the brave Americans who fought and continue to fight for the greatest cause of all FREEDOM!

I will recall that day and teach my children about what happened and who was to blame. (they are now old enough to learn all that happened on that day)

We must never forget! And be vigilant about protecting our freedom.

God Bless America!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Leisurely Labor Day Weekend!

It's been a busy few weeks.

Yesterday when I got home from school I thought, "Wow, a three day weekend! I want to go out and celebrate... after I lay down for a few minutes." 8 hours later, I woke up, looked at the clock, which said 3:00 and realized I never even changed out of my clothes. So much for the fun night on the town.

So, today after we mulled around for most of the day, we decided to get in the car and head for the beach.

It was a glorious late afternoon at the beach. An all American Labor Day weekend! Red, white and blue!



Hope you are enjoying your weekend too!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Computer Class Activity

I've been away from my blog for so long! I have made it through my first two weeks of teaching Gaming and Web Design to nearly 200 middle school students. I think I'll return on Monday and shoot for another week!

I came up with a great activity for them to do on Monday.
We have covered a lot of information so far. I created a website for the class using what else?...blogspot... I literally put the site together in an hour. I use it everyday to post the lessons and bell work. I also have pages for chapters and other information. The list of resource links is a great feature too.
Anyway, their activity for Monday is to go to and create a word cloud using the terms we have covered. They will open the website and in windows side by side and copy and paste words from our class website. The main concepts will be copied and pasted several times more than the sub topics. They will then have fun creating their word cloud white background with black and gray words only. I will select a few word clouds to print out. Can't print them all/ too much ink.
I will use these lovely word clouds to decorate the walls of my classroom!:)
Here are some screen prints to show you my process.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Chalkboards for the Classroom

Classrooms sure have changed!  It used to be that every classroom had a chalkboard. Could you imagine back when you were a kids, if you had somebody say to you, there will be no chalkboards in the classrooms by the time your kids go to school.  You would have thought they were crazy!  Chalkboards and classrooms go together like peanut butter and jelly!

Here is my new classroom and guess what...NO Chalkboards!  Only computers and whiteboards.  We'll have to change that!:)


I see a perfect surface to put chalkboards!
Stay tuned...

This may take a while. I'm pretty busy these days. Teaching middle school kids game design and web design is fun but a lot of working too!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Painting with crayons!

I wrote this post on my new blog Art by Instinct but I'm still pretty attached to this blog. You can see all of my chalkboards and artwork at my new blog but I just can't leave my old friend Chalk it up! So sometimes I will cross post and sometimes I will write something completely different, depending on the time available.

After coming across a very interesting idea on I decided to experiment with crayons as a "serious" art medium.-

Here is the the picture that started it all for me

Crayon hot glue gun

As I read more about the process I though I just had to try it. One person who tried it said they glued the crayons to the canvas and left it in the hot car to melt.
I decided to take a box of old Crayola Crayons and peel the wrappers(hint-use an X-acto knife to score down the length of the crayon and simply peel the cut wrapper)
Then I glues five of the peeled crayons to the center of the canvas and propped it up against the wheel of the car. I live in Florida so I didn't think I needed to put it in the car to help melt the crayons.
Interestingly, after 3 hours in the hot August Florida sun only the indigo and violet started to melt. This was not working.

Crayon canvas

This melted the crayons in no time

Melted crayon canvas
The little white flecks are pieces of grated white crayon sprinkled over the top.
To further help the process I used my embossing gun to keep the wax melted and move it around fluidly.

Here is the end result of my first attempt.
Crayon landscape

I'm pretty happy with the results of this first try.
Now It's time to really experiment with this technique!

This time I decided to use a piece of 6"x6" wood instead of canvas. A more rigid support seem more stable for the wax.
Here is my second attempt at a crayon painting landscape.

Purple sky

I like the way the wax drips off the edge of the wood, revealing the process.

Wood landscape
To help the melting process along I put the canvas into the warming drawer at the bottom of my oven.

This could be addicting!

You might call this the cheap man's encaustic painting (although I've never done encaustic painting before, so don't know how similar this is) I would love to learn encaustic someday.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Little chalkboards for sale

I'm very excited! I just opened an Amazon Chalk it up! store.
So far I only have one item listed but it's a start. We are hoping to reach more people looking for chalkboards
I still love my etsy shop and will always have chalkboards there.

I also listed a new painting in my Art Spectrum shop


I have been so side tracked lately I don't know which way is up! Do you even have so many thoughts running through your head that you just can't see straight?

I mentioned in an earlier post that I created a new website for all of my artistic endeavors. Art by Instinct
Well, a few days ago I was trying to create another new and separate website and completely destroyed ABI! So I had to go back to the drawing board and rebuild it. Sometime redoing things gives you the practice you need to improve. I hope to get good enough soon to offer custom websites to others.

I think I made some improvements on my new site (it's still under construction) I hope you will check it out and let me know what you think.

Have a great day!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Looking toward the light


Don't look down
Don't look up
Look straight ahead...


Took the day yesterday to take a deep breath and bask in God's Glory


Is that the sun I see behind the clouds?

Happy Mosaic Monday!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Chalkboard Minis!

We have a new product at Chalk it up! The chalkboard mini!



Actually it is 2"x3.5" the size of a business card.


I can think of so many uses for these minis
Wedding seating cards
table place setting cards for a dinner party
birthday favors
teaching aides
labels for organizing
name tags for a social event or meeting

Can you think of other ways to use mini chalkboards?
I'd love to hear your ideas

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

New Custom Website

Hello World!

Not just another wordpress website! This is my new website and I'm very excited to introduce it to you here. Art by Instinct!

This website is a culmination of the work that I have been doing for the past several years; teaching, painting, murals, chalkboards, digital media. The cherry on the sundae or icing on the cake is the custom website that I created to house all of this work.

For the past year and a half I have been working toward a certificate in Digital/Interactive Media Design Technical.

I have taken classes in bitmap graphics, vector graphics, 3-D modeling and animation, digital video, digital imaging and interactive design. I have two more weeks left of my interactive design class and I will earn my certificate. And if I get an "A" in this class I will have a 4.0! (Ok enough tooting my own horn-that was fun:))

I still have some tweaking to do with my new site and I'm not sure if it will take over as my main site yet. But I will keep everyone updated as it evolves and gets the finishing touches.

So where do I go from here? Illustration, web design, custom banners... It's time to weigh my options and see how to put my new skill to work.

Stay tuned...

Monday, July 11, 2011



They stick together...


Through thick and thin...


And give each other space when they need it.

Luc and Bam and the kids are becoming fast friends!

It's fun to watch their friendship grow!:)

Sunday, July 10, 2011


There are times when you need to back away from the computer...just back away! When you are not in the best state of mind...hands off the keys. Thus the explanation for the revision. I have always kept my blog a positive place. After all how can you follow along and have fun if it's not?!

I've only kept the parts worth keeping. I've decided everything is going to be just fine!:)

If you'd like to buy a chalkboard here's the shop

If you'd like to buy a painting here's the shop

Again, if you'd like to order a chalkboard or painting we would happily fill your order.

I wish you health and happiness.

Don't worry bout a thing!

I need my own SHedaisy group!

God Bless

And Chalk it Up!

I feel much better now!:)

Keep smiling:):):)

And a little something for Mosaic Monday


Some things I've collected on my vision boards over at LOVE Pinterest!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Starting with a clean plate!


This is a our newest chalkboard in the shop. Silver Chalkboard Plate!
A great way to display what's for dinner tonight or your soup of the day! Or to jot down your calorie count for the day! (or maybe not)

The chef is between jobs at the moment but we're hoping he will find something quickly.

In the meantime, onward with the chalkboard business and a few other business ventures we've put on the back burner, due to a lack of time. The irony, when you don't have the time you have the money but when you have the time you don't have the money.

We hope to be adding speech bubble chalkboards to the shop soon and various other shapes.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Rustic Chalkboard


This is the newest chalkboard at Chalk it up!
It would look great in a rustic style home or a mountain cabin!

The frame measures 14"x14"


I hope you are having a relaxing summer. Have a wonderful holiday weekend!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Room for Art

This is my soon-to-be Art Studio/Classroom! It is also where much of our chalkboard production takes place.


I think there is potential here. With a few changes of added and deleted pieces of furniture, I will make a room for art! Room for creating my own artwork and room to give art lessons.

I also have to consider some additional lighting. I may paint two of the walls white to be a crisp clean backdrop for the artwork. The piano will be going, no one plays it, and I may have to move my craigslist loveseat to another room. In the center of the room will be a table and chairs for students to work.

I've been gathering inspiration on this great new site that I found through one of this weeks SITS featured bloggers. It's called Here is my inspiration board for my studio.

Pinterest is like an online vision board! I love it! Thank you Lisa from Surviving Oz

This summer is becoming one of action for me. We are going through some changes around here and we have decided that WORRYING accomplishes nothing, ACTION accomplishes everything.

I was hoping to be teaching art in the public school this year; however, the position went to a art teacher who lost their position at another school, so by default he/she got the job. It was not much consolation when the principal told me if not for the school district rule I would have been his first choice. I decided not to wait for somebody to tell me when I can teach.

It's time to take matters into my own hands and teach what I love. Hopefully in a few weeks the studio will be ready for students!

Visit Mary's Little Red House for Mosaic Monday!

Stay tuned...

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Things to do this summer!

1.Go to the local animal shelter and adopt a pet!


We have been thinking about adding another puppy to our clan. The other day we decided to visit the pound and see if our new puppy was there. As we walked from pen to pen we stopped when we got to one where there seemed to be no dogs. We called to see if any were in the inside portion and out slinked Bambi. Bambi is a beagle/chihuahua mix. Too cute! She worked her charm as we played with her in the play area. That was it! She closed the deal! Adopting a pet is not to be taken lightly. We are probably not going anywhere this summer so it is the perfect time to introduce a new pet into the family.
2. Make new friends!

If you can't adopt a pet, go to the park, enroll in camp, go to a dog park, join the gym, join the YMCA, enroll in a class at the local College or visit your community pool.

3. Go canoeing


Rent a canoe and explore your local surroundings from a whole new perspective or should I say an old perspective. We went canoeing on the Wekiva river here in Florida. It was hot but so much fun! We paddled to the springs (always 72 degrees, freezing) and jumped in to cool off before we turned around to head back. We explored Florida's natural beauty. This is the beautiful side of Florida that many aren't aware of. We came nose to nose with alligators, otters, turtles, herons, egrets...


We so want to buy our own canoe or kayaks!
Do you own a canoe?
What would you encounter during your canoe trip in your state?

4.Find some indoor fun


The obvious would be bowling, the movies (we just saw Super8 with the kids-Great Summer movie), indoor kids zones(dare I say Chucky Cheese or Kidtropolis), art classes, or my son's favorite place, Rebounderz! Rebounderz is a wall to wall trampoline room. You can literally bounce off the walls! They also have a bungee cord harness, video games, pool tables, a cafe, comfy couches, and party rooms! A boys paradise! Other indoor activity that don't cost much, walk around the mall and window shop or go to thrift stores and have to kids search for a particular items like a scavenger hunt! Let them buy something for a dollar! Good places for this, Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity.

Do you have any good summer activity ideas that you can share with me? We're always looking for new things to do.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A view from my window


Ok so it's not a real window. It's my computer window. Yes, I'm still only on virtual vacation.

Summer is upon us and no vacation time in sight. But I'm sure we'll figure it out before the season disappears. We always do:)

Looking out my "window" I see many opportunities, virtual and real! The future is bright!

Happy Father's Day!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

How to take a virtual vacation...

In these challenging economic times you may being finding it hard to find the money or time or both to squeeze in that summer vacation.

Here's a temporary fix, think about where you would like to go this summer, then google your destination to see if there is a streaming webcam in that location. For example, I was thinking how nice it would be to take a mini vacation to Sanibel Island. It's only about a three hour drive and I've heard it's great for shell collecting. I googled Sanibel webcam and found this site, Island Inn Sanibel .


This beautiful resort offers cottages, beach houses, duplexes and suites.

So, how to take a virtual vacation?

View your destination web cam in full screen if possible. Check at different times during the day to see the changing colors and light of the day. Pull up your laptop at your patio table as you dine al fresco and gaze at the beautiful beach sunset. Imagine you are looking out the window from your luxurious suite at your beach front view.

Sounds a little cooky? Well, maybe but remember that visualization is key in making your dreams a reality. I did this a few summers ago when I really wanted to take a trip to the northwest Georgia Mountains. I found a webcam of Brasstown Bald Mountain. I viewed it several times a day imagining myself being there and that summer I found myself standing on top of that mountain!

Maybe in a few weeks I'll be standing on this beach. Or in a cabin in the mountains


Or Lauderdale at sunrise

Or maybe a view of Time Square is more like it...

I'll keep you posted...

Happy mosaic Monday!
See more mosaics at Mary's little red house