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ART WITH MS K


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Japan 2018

This blog post is all about my trip to Japan. The week before, and the week of spring break I had the incredible opportunity to go to Japan with my husband. We spent 10  days exploring the most amazing country I have ever visited. My husband is from Japan so he was the best tour guide imaginable! We went to Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Itami, and Fukuoka. The cherry blossoms were in full bloom which made the scenery completely magical.

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Tokyo

Tokyo was like a city in a dream. There were tons of people everywhere and more restaurants and shops than you can imagine. It was sunset upon our arrival and we could just barely see Mt. Fuji’s silhouette behind the cityscape from our hotel window.

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Our first day in Tokyo was busy! We started off by visiting Asakusa temple. The architecture was absolutely stunning. I was fascinated by the roof panels and strong pillars of ancient wood adorned with intricate carvings.

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From the temple, we walked over to a residential part of the city where we took a block printing class. It was so cool to get to try my hand at this art-form. I enjoyed learning about the care that goes into each print – how the layers are built up and colors mix to form an image. The prints we made depict a Japanese folktale.

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After our art class, we went to Ueno Park. It was quite crowded on such a lovely spring day. We rented paddle boats and enjoyed the beautiful lake surrounded by Sakura blossoms.

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Our second morning in Tokyo was spent at the famous Tsukiji Fish Market. I really love a good international market and Tsukiji did not disappoint – we ate delicious sashimi and saw all kinds of fish and spices and produce being bought and sold.

After enjoying the bustling sensation of the market, we made our way over to the Imperial Palace Gardens. It was so peaceful and serene.

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After enjoying a sunny walk around the Palace Gardens, we went down the street to the Museum of Modern Art Tokyo. The exhibits were great, I liked seeing the mixture of contemporary art forms alongside more classic artwork like folding screens and sculptures.

The next day we hopped on a Shinkaisen – or bullet train – to Kyoto. The train was fast, comfortable, and quiet. We got bento box lunches to enjoy on the ride.

Kyoto 

Our first stop in Kyoto was a Buddhist Temple across the street from our Ryokan (traditional lodging). After lighting ceremonial incense and washing our hands in the cool fountain, we admired the beautiful carvings of Buddha inside.

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After meandering around the temple, we made our way over to the train station to explore the magnificent building built around it. The JR Kyoto Isetan is one of the coolest buildings I have ever been in. It is filled with shops, restaurants, and hotels and represents modern architecture at it’s finest. Honestly, pictures cannot capture the expanse of this gargantuan space so you will just have to go visit for yourself one day and in the meantime enjoy my splendid sunset photo taken from the top.

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The next morning, we woke up bright and early to beat the crowds of tourists to see Fushimi Inari Shrine. This was such a highlight of the trip for me. I had seen pictures of this unique and sacred place and knew that I just had to go. I have been on some spectacular international hikes through my travels – The Golan Heights in Israel, Cinque Terre in Italy, and Skellig Island in Ireland – but I must say that Fushimi Inari takes the cake. There was something other-worldly about walking through the thousands of vermilion arches up to the top of the mountain in the morning light.

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It was awfully hot by the time we finished (and crowded too!) so we stopped for a rest at a lovely little cafe and enjoyed some green tea.

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From Fushimi Inari we took a train to another part of Kyoto and walked a few miles up Teapot Hill to get to Kiyomizudera Temple. We passed plenty of ceramic shops on the way (hence the name of “Teapot Hill”!) It was probably the largest and busiest temple that we visited and the insides of the giant wooden structure permeated with the aroma of incense and the echo of the prayer bowl.

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We grabbed some delicious street food at Nishiki Market and by the time we got back to our Ryokan we realized that we had walked over 32,000 steps in about 10 hours. We were spent! So it was a great relief in the morning when we found ourselves with time on our hands to do a bus tour of the city. I absolutely LOVE bus tours and even though I could not understand any of what the tour guide said, I certainly enjoyed looking at Kyoto from a double decker bus.

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From the bus, we hopped onto a train and headed to Osaka.

Osaka

Tokyo had a very modern vibe to it, everyone was bustling about and very professional and business like. Kyoto’s vibe was more touristy and traditional. The vibe of Osaka was more on the fun and relaxed side. Everywhere we went felt like a party!

We started off with a riverboat tour of Dotonbori. This area of town was filled with shops and tons and tons and tons of restaurants with incredible street food like takoyaki, fresh crab, gyoza, and noodles. It was a delicious adventure!

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The next morning, we made our way over to Osaka Castle. The glorious structure has been rebuilt several times over the years (due to damage from natural distasters and wars) and now it is a museum showcasing historical artifacts from feudal Japan. It was fascinating to learn about the history and unification of all of the different factions long ago.

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The view from the top was especially wonderful. You could see Osaka for miles and miles.

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Back on the ground, manhole covers were decorated with the infamous Osaka Castle design. So cool!

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From Osaka Castle we headed to and area of town called Shin-sekai. We walked right underneath the tower of Tsūtenkaku and explored the bustling streets.

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The next morning we had some time to spare before heading to our next destination so we went to the Umeda Sky building.

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This is one of the world’s top 20 buildings and it is easy to see why – not only is the design beautiful but we were again delighted to find a majestic skyline view at the top. This trip was full of good views.
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From Osaka we headed to Itami. We only stayed for a night and spent most of our time there with friends so I don’t have many pictures to show you except the decorative manhole covers:
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From Itami we caught a plane out to the city of Fukouka. My in-laws picked us up and we took an absolute beautiful drive along the coast. We ended up out in the region of Karatsu. We stopped at the beach for lunch and had a stunning view of an island shrine in the sea. The water was crystal clear and the sand was pristine. It was the cleanest and most peaceful beach I have ever been to.

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I was delighted to see the ocean, I had expected our trip to be mostly cityscsapes and after a week of spectacular ones, it was nice to experience nature. From the beach we headed up to the top of Kagamiyama Observatory for another aerial view, this time of the mountains and towns of Karatsu.

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Our last day in Japan was spent back in Fukuoka where we enjoyed shopping, exploring, and a sublimely delicious traditional style dinner. The night time streets of the city seemed to celebrate our experience in Japan and the twinkling lights of the city seemed to wave us goodbye.

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From Fukuoka it was back to Tokyo and then back to Atlanta. It really was the trip of a lifetime and I still cannot believe that I got to experience everything that I did. Now that I have been back and telling people about the trip, I get asked a lot, “what was your favorite part?” That is a really hard question because everything was my favorite part but I can certainly pinpoint some aspects that really stand out to me.

For example, it would be impossible to write about a great trip to Japan without mentioning the food – of which we ate A LOT of! I especially liked the displays of sculptural fake food showcasing the restaurant’s offerings.

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I had the best ramen EVER and the seafood was of course superb.

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I also liked buying breakfast every day from the 7-11. There are convenient stores everywhere and although you wouldn’t dream of finding a tasty, fresh, or nutritious breakfast from one in America, in Japan they stock food items that are exactly that.

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I enjoyed the cleanliness of Japan. There is no trash littering the streets, everyone takes great care to recycle.

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I liked how organized everything is too – there are signs everywhere and places to line up to get on and off the train. It was easy to travel and walk around.

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The cultural aspects were amazing to see. I love the architecture and sculptures, murals, and shrines are pretty much everywhere including some surprising places like alleyways off a busy city street.

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I also liked all of the quirky and whimsical animals and graphics everywhere. It was such a visual treat to just look around.

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By the way, did you know that it is the year of the dog? There are cute dogs everywhere in Japan!

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I of course also loved the cherry blossom trees. I think that they are so beautiful because they are so revered by the humans around them. And why not – Japan is a beautiful place to be after all. I can’t wait to go back one day!

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❤ Mrs. K

 

 

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Ireland – An Adventurous Road Trip

Hellooooooo lovely readers! And happy first day of summer 🙂

Those of you that have been following me for a while know that I have many passions – teaching art, making art, and travelling in the summertime. While my chosen career path will never pay enough (monetarily speaking) the two months off during summer is nothing to complain about!

I have had the extreme pleasure of being able to travel around the country and around the world for the past couple of years: from Israel to Italy and GreeceSan Francisco and Portland (OR), Chicago, and even Burning Man I have been to some breathtaking places. But nowhere has surprised  me and captured my heart quite like Ireland.

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I travelled with two companions and we began in New York City. Though we weren’t there for very long, I had to get some snaps of the awesome street art we saw!

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We had just enough time to stop by the CW Pencil Enterprise Shop and score some sweet pencils! #artteacherdream

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From JFK we flew into Dublin. As we drove in (on the left side of the road!) I was delighted to see a modern city on the river with some excellent architecture.

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Dublin is a very old city with some magnificent cathedrals and parts of the original fortress wall still intact.

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The big park in the middle of the city (St. Stephens Green) was stunning on a somewhat sunny Dublin day!

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And of course I couldn’t leave without some more street art snaps:

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The view from the top of the Guinness Storehouse was stunning!

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From Dublin we travelled south to Cork. The drive was beautiful, we passed lush green fields of cows, sheep, and wind turbines looming in the distance.

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We spent a couple of hours in the city of Cork.

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There was a building block covered in murals:

From the city of Cork we continued south to the charming seaside town of Crookhaven (also quite possibly the most charming town in the entire galaxy). It is the most southern point of Ireland and while we were there freezing our Georgia tushes off in winter gear, many Irish tourists were enjoying a summer holiday in shorts and t-shirts!

The town lies across a bay and has only 40 full time residents. It was quaint, quiet, and quite the hidden gem.

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It was in Crookhaven that I enjoyed one of the finest meals of my life and here I am laughing about how deliciously divine everything is. #YUM

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The bed and breakfast we stayed at had the cutest donkeys that were so sweet and gentle.

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The real highlight of the trip was the impromptu kayak excursion in the Celtic Sea. We paddled through cold water that looked like liquid silver in the cloudy sunlight – it was the experience of a lifetime.

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After kayaking, we headed up to some castle ruins. The townspeople were very excited to inform us that it will be in the next Star Wars movie – cool!

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We journeyed west to Portmagee from Cork. Portmagee is another small seaside town with more delicious seafood and salty Irish fishermen than you can count.

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We were extremely fortunate to be able to book passage to the Skellig Islands for a tour. Only 12 boats of 12 people each are allowed to visit this world heritage site everyday. I thoroughly enjoyed the choppy, chilly boat ride to the islands:

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The big Skellig island was inhabited by monks a thousand years ago. They lived 600 steep steps up into the fog on cliffs above the sea.

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The cliffs were covered in precious puffy puffins!

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The climb into the sky was surreal and when we got to the top we walked around the dwellings still standing after a thousand years.

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If these structures look familiar, that is because this is also a location from Star Wars. This is where Luke Skywalker was chillin’ at the end of the Force Awakens. This island was fascinating not only for Star Wars purposes but the ecosystem and habitat the monks cultivated.

After visiting the Skellig islands, we traveled a few kilometers to the Kerry Cliffs. Ireland has many natural and beautiful cliffs and we were thrilled to visit this one. In the distance you can see the Skellig islands:

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Next we traveled to the west coast to Galway. Galway is a lively city along the water with lots of fun things to do including walking the green way and going to the beach!

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I definitely got a sunburn at Salthill Beach – was not expecting that in Ireland! We miraculously had gorgeous weather the entire time we were there.

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And the very best thing to do in Galway is a small shop called Dungeons and Donuts where you can enjoy delectable donuts inspired by nerdy pop culture references while playing board games. We stayed with the Star Wars theme and played Star Wars Carcassonne 🙂

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After spending a couple of nights in Galway we headed back to Dublin. On the way we stopped at Birr Castle. Birr Castle was beautiful, we strolled through the lovely gardens and enjoyed scenic views. Unfortunately we missed the earl who still resides there which is a real shame because I am sure he would have enjoyed our hiking boots and flower crowns!

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From there it was back to Dublin for a couple more days then back home. I loved this international adventure. Ireland should definitely be on your bucket list if it is not already. It is a country filled with friendly folks, beautiful scenery, delicious seafood, and the adventure spirit. One week was certainly not enough time to fully experience all of the beauty, history, and fun Ireland has to offer so I hope to return one day for more adventures! ❤

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NAEA 2016 in Chicago

Getting back into the swing of things today has been rough! (#thestruggleisreal right after a conference!) I had a blast in Chicago at this year’s NAEA conference!

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This was not my first time in Chicago nor was it my first national conference but it sure was a unique and fun experience!

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I was so inspired by many of the sessions I attended especially the Curriculum Slam.

I got to spend a few hours in the Chicago Art Institute museum which was a truly amazing experience. I always feel so starstruck seeing artwork in real life. I didn’t take many pictures because I was so busy experiencing the museum!

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The city of Chicago is also filled with artwork in the form of fantastic murals and public sculptures!

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I loved seeing my dear friends Melinda, Rosie, and Noelle and rooming with them yet again, we always have a great time 🙂

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There was a cosplay convention at the conference center while we were there which just goes to show how art teachers affect creativity!

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What a fab experience! I can’t wait for next year’s conference in NYC!

IMG_20160318_154722  ❤ Ms. K

 


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Italy and Greece

Tomorrow is the first teacher workday for the 2015-2016 school year. That means that it is time for my summer-minded brain to get on board the Back-to-School train. This is easier said than done as I have had the great pleasure and fortune of being able to travel this summer. I went to cities near and far and just returned from an incredible trip to Italy and Greece. If you follow me on Twitter you have seen many of these pictures already but I wanted to put the story all together here on the blog.

This trip was months in the making and was made possible by a very detailed (possibly too detailed) google doc and strict savings plan. It was absolutely incredible to see works of art that I have grown up learning about and teach my students about. There is something very surreal about being surrounded by ruins or frescos that are thousands of years old, it makes you feel connected to humanity in the past, present, and future. This was the second time I have been out of the country and I was just as enchanted and inspired.

So with that in mind I present to you my journey abroad!

We began in Milan. Milan is a modern and clean European city that has more contemporary architecture than architecture of antiquity. However there is a magnificent Duomo cathedral in a Gothic style! This building was enormous and so intricately detailed.

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I loved riding the hop-on-hop-off bus in Milan which included an audio tour describing some of the sights.

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The next stop was Monterosso al Mare, one of the cliff towns of Cinque Terre. A friend recommended me to go here and after watching Rick Steves I was sold!

I can only describe Monterosso as magical with its lovely beaches:

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Charming town:

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Splendid views:

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and the BEST pesto I have ever had:

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I went on an amazing hike from one town to the next which led through winding vineyard hills and cliffs overlooking the sea:

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The next stop on the trip was Florence. A tour through the Tuscan countryside was first up on the agenda.

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Walking around the city of Florence was so much fun, I even stumbled across an exhibit featuring paintings and sculptures of Salvador Dali inspired by the poetry of Dante.

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The Duomo in Florence is astounding:

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Near the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge there is a hidden alleyway filled with interesting graffiti:

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The bridge itself is magnificent with its crowded street filled with shops selling gold and jewelry.

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The leather market nearby is also quite an experience:

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While in Florence I had the chance to visit the Boboli Gardens, part of the Pitti Palace. The garden has many sculptures of mythology and an excellent view overlooking the city.

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After Florence, we headed to the coast for Sorrento. Sorrento is famous for its lemons and coastal fun. The town was charming with shops, restaurants, and small churches.

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The best part of Sorrento was a boat tour to the nearby island of Capri. We got to see the famous lagoons and grottos and float once again in crystal blue Mediterranean water.

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After Sorrento, we travelled to Rome. Rome is a city of mighty magnificence. Everything there is massive and impressive and symbolic. There are sculptures in every plaza that have stories and histories. Just walking through the streets you can truly feel the splendor of one of the greatest cities the world has ever known.

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The magnificence wouldn’t be complete of course without a trip to the Colosseum! Being inside and getting to walk upon and touch ancient stones was so impressive.

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We paid a visit to the Pantheon next and marvelled at the great condition it remains in. Looking up inside you can see the domes roof with a hole in the middle. The design was stunning!

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The Vatican was another stop not to be missed. These pictures really do not capture how completely gigantic this building is.

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There was so much amazing art inside from cultures all around the world especially Greece and Egypt.

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Every surface was decorated with vibrant frescos and every ceiling was sculpted with ornate details.

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My favorite part of course was the modern art collection including Matisse and Dali!

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The very best part of going to the Vatican was climbing the 551 steps to the top of St. Peter’s Basilica. The climb was exhausting and difficult – we spiraled up and up and up through tight steep stairs until we finally emerged high above Rome and looked upon the magnificent city. What a view!

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Leaving Rome marked the end of the Italian portion of the journey and the beginning of the adventures in Greece. We started out on the island of Santorini, famous for its beaches and sunsets. The appropriately named Black Sand Beach was a rocky shore of volcanic stones.

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The sunset was breathtaking and a true masterpiece of the natural world.

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The island is covered in buildings made of white stone and there are many shops including a wonderful pottery studio with some of the nicest and more talented artisans I have ever met!

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The appropriately named Red Beach is a sight to behold with its red stones and rocky shore:

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I haven’t been everywhere yet but I am certain that Santorini is one of the most beautiful places on Earth! From this paradise we travelled inland to Athens. I was so excited to see Athens because I teach my 3rd graders about The Parthenon and couldn’t wait to see the building in real life. So first thing we headed up the hill to the Acropolis.

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From the top of the Acropolis you can look out onto all of Athens and Mount Olympus. It was a spectacular view!

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Being in front of the Parthenon was a very meaningful experience for me. I was of course impressed by all of the great landmarks in Italy but there was something about seeing this original structure marking the glory of the ancient Greeks that struck a chord for me.

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After the descent back down to street level, we visited the Acropolis museum. The museum was beautiful and it was so cool to see so many of the ancient adornments and sculptures up close.

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The next stop in Athens was the original modern Olympics Panathenaic stadium from 1896. It was really neat!

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Then we went down the street and made it just in time for the famous changing of the guard. The was the guards moved and dressed was so bizarre and intriguing!

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We got to do another hop-on-hop-off bus tour which was a grand way to see Athens. The trip ended with a glorious rooftop view of the acropolis at sunset.

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This trip was an incredible experience, I learned so much about structures and art that I have only ever seen in pictures. I am excited to bring this experience back as an influence in my teaching. It is hard to believe that summer is already over!

I’ll post some pictures of my classroom sometime soon as I get it prepared for students. I have a few neat new things I am excited to implement and share. Here’s to a great summer and a great upcoming school year!

❤ Ms. K

 


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SFO to PDX

Last summer, I went to Chicago to see the Braves play and experience the city. This summer I continued the tradition of following my team out of town to San Francisco and Portland. A few days after school was finished back in May I headed out west.

I got off the plane and headed straight to Chinatown for lunch. That place is crazy and the food is crazy good.

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Then from Chinatown it was off to Pier 39. We took a boat tour under the Golden Gate Bridge and got to see the seals too!

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The next day was a visit to Haight Ashbury and Japantown.

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That tie dye is the largest framed artwork in the city, on the ceiling of a shop in Haight Ashbury! The cool looking building is a monument in Japantown. We walked around and saw the famous Painted Lady houses:

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And watched vehicles try and traverse through Russian Hill:

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San Francisco is serious business about it’s hills — there are some mighty steep streets! Here are some other cool things:

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Unlike last summer’s trip to Chicago, the Braves won against the Giants this time around! At the end of the game the stadium swarmed with seagulls.

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One of my favorite parts of this trip were the amazing hikes. San Francisco is such a cool city — one moment you can be in the middle of a busy city and the next you can be on a hike in nature by the sea.

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This is me running on a hillside:

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Here is a labyrinth made of stones on the edge of the world:

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One of the hikes was on a trail that had old army bunkers. . . now covered in graffiti!

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After a few days in San Fran, it was time to jet off to Portland.

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(hahah get it? time to jet off!)

The first thing I did in Portland was visit an exquisite Japanese garden. It was so peaceful and quite stunning in its beauty.

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Then of course I had to try some local food at the food carts downtown. Noms!!

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And a trip to the famous and delicious doughnut shop was of course in order:

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The evening ended with a trip to an awesome arcade:

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Overall it was a fantastic trip. Special thanks to Erika & Jeremy for their hospitality! I am really excited to continue my year of crazy travelling and jetsetting with my trip to Italy and Greece in a couple of weeks. Stay tuned for more adventures!

❤ Ms. K

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NAEA 2015 – A NoLa Adventure!

I had a blast in New Orleans this past weekend for the National Art Education Association conference!

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I thought the conference was great, especially the vendor’s hall. #swag

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I got to spend the weekend with some fab art ed buddies from GA. . .

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I even got to see some art teachers from Fulton County:

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And of course the amazing Tim Gunn! Here is a selfie with Hope Knight and Tim 🙂

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Make it work!

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I was thrilled to present a session on blogging and social media in the classroom to advocate and network.

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I co-presented with Melinda Gram. ❤

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And of course the city of NoLa is a truly incredible place!

From daytime:

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To night-time!

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I can’t wait to go back. And I can’t wait ’til next year’s conference in Chicago!


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Hey Chicago Whaddya Say?

I went to Chicago and it was amazing!

You can feel the friendly midwestern spirit as you walk down the streets:

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There is public art everywhere:

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Cloud Gate (a.k.a. The Bean) is like a portal to another dimension:

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One of my favorite things about Chicago is the architecture. I went on a river boat architecture tour and it was super cool!

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The terrace of Trump Tower makes you feel like you are dining with buildings:

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The best building though was Sears Tower. I got to go in the glass box and could feel one of the tallest buildings in the world swaying and creaking in the wind.

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And what is a trip to Chicago without a slice of deep dish pizza and a walk around Navy Pier?

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Another highlight of the trip was a visit to the Chicago Art Institute. The art collection is grand with everything from ancient Eastern art to contemporary and modern art. I was starstruck to see so many of my favorite artworks in real life!

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Wrigley Field was also a great experience (even though the Braves lost). It is a really cool stadium!

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Chicago is a fabulous city and I can’t wait to go back!


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Art in Israel

This summer I had the opportunity to travel to Israel for 10 days with a program called Birthright. It was a whirlwind adventure of hiking, food, friends, sunshine, desert, bus rides, history, and culture. In short — it was incredible.

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Israel is a country full of natural and man-made beauty and I was so excited to see so much art everywhere — especially public art all over mostly in the form of monuments or commemorations.

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The architecture is beautiful; especially in Jerusalem where all of the building are made out of limestone.

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The columns, arches, and aqueducts are Roman inspired. Walking through Jerusalem felt like traveling back in time a couple of millenia. The stone streets were smooth weathered with hundreds and hundreds of years of wandering feet.

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Check out this awesome mosaic:

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We went to the room where The Last Supper (supposedly) took place:

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The mystical city of Tzfat is famous for artists and musicians. There were plenty of both selling art or playing music in the streets.

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A harpist playing the harp under a statue of a harpist playing a harp:

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This is a beautiful and intricately carved wooden ark where the Torah is kept. This was in an old Synagogue that was also filled with beautiful stained glass windows.

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A stained glass window with the “tree of life” symbol:

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tzedakah or charity box outside the synagogue:

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The amazing waxworks in a small candle shop (made by weaving wax — WOW!) :

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We got to meet and talk to one artist named Avraham. He was so inspiring and creative! Here he is in his studio shop:

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Beautiful contemporary Kabbalistic art:

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If you know me in real life, you know that I absolutely love street art. Tel Aviv and Jerusalem had some really cool tags and graffiti.

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One very special art related moment occurred at the top of Mount Herzl (the military cemetery). A woman had an easel set up and she was painting a gorgeous landscape with oil paints. It was such a beautiful moment for an artist on top of a mountain in the sun.

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Israel is full of vibrant art. From street art to monuments, from paintings to architecture there is creativity throughout the country.And the beauty doesn’t stop at man-made — there is plenty of artistic and natural beauty.

Masada:

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The Dead Sea:

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The desert:

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Gardens:

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And of course the marketplace!:
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I enjoyed every minute of my time in Israel and I cannot wait to go back and continue to explore such a vividly beautiful country. I am excited to use my experience as inspiration for my own art and to inform my teaching through understanding of other cultures. 🙂

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