Monday, February 28, 2011

from february into march

Can February really be over? Time for the February goal recap!

Read 2 books. Nope. Read one. I'm a little behind here.

List 5 new items in the shop. Nope. Listed three.

Clean out and organize the 4 drawers in the kitchen island which have inadvertently become semi junk drawers. Nope. Maybe I'll move this task to spring break.

Make a bread recipe at least once. Nope ~ well, only if you count the cinnamon rolls I helped Heather make on President's Day.

Iron our school clothes the night before to help alleviate morning screaming stress. Yes, but only a few times.

Complete my February photo project. Yes. I might have cheated a little. Like, I meant to take the photo above yesterday, but got busy and forgot. So I took it this morning. This might have happened another time or two, but I'm not saying for sure! 

So, I'm thinking I wasn't so successful on the actual goals this month. But I did finish two big projects that were a challenge for me. 

And there's always March ~ so let's try this again. Let's start fresh. But I'm going to keep it simple. Maybe we can shake it up a little more in April.

  1. Read 2 books.
  2. List 5 items in the shop.
  3. Iron our school clothes the night before.
  4. Make a bread recipe at least once. If I keep saying it maybe it will actually happen.
  5. Complete the March photo project ~ same as February, different month. I hope you are ready for more pictures of fun stuff plus some very random things thrown in. 

Our flowering plum has already begun to flower. I love it when it is covered in the delicate pinkish white blossoms. It's like a beautiful promise.


coloring outside the lines

I'm a hard one to live with. I'll admit it.

I'm full of crazy contradictions.

I am a rule follower.

But don't tell me what to do.

Sometimes those rule following tendencies follow me into the creative world. There must certainly a right way and a wrong way to do things. Right?

As I grow older and more mature (ha!) I am finding out that there are many ways to do things, all of which are not necessarily right or wrong.

I've been wanting to try a mixed media art piece for a while, but it took a long time to find the courage to do it.

There are no rules! You can color outside the lines and it will still be right.

So here we have my first mixed media piece. After letting it sit for a little while and looking at it a lot, I decided it was done. I really could have fussed with it a lot more, but then it might have become too muddled.

Some of my favorite parts are the details that I didn't plan. I love how the piece of magazine with the roses crinkled with the moisture, making it look very vintage and cracked.

There are a few spontaneous swipes of paint here and there that I find quite lovely. I couldn't have planned such loveliness. It had to just happen. This is so true of life, as well. We cannot always plan the lovely moments. Rather they happen spontaneously, sometimes when we are not quite paying attention even.

I've already started another one ~ or two. Everywhere I look I see things that I can incorporate into a piece ~ papers and textures and such. Kim sent me a note in the mail and the front of the card is gorgeous and has a great embossed texture. That will be become part of a painting at some point. I found a library card (where it came from I have no clue) on the floor the other day. Like a bird gathering for her nest, I swiped that baby and put it in my stack of findings.

Oh, don't worry. This girl will remain very much a rule follower. Rules are safe. It gives life a certain needed order. But I won't be so afraid to color outside the lines from time to time.

Linked to Show and Share Day with Just a Girl and Sew Many Ways - Sew Darn Crafty Party.


Sunday, February 27, 2011

something sweet adds up to a lot of hairspray

Spice cake with cream cheese frosting is one of Greg's favorites! On Valentine's Day I tried a from-scratch recipe. Fail. The taste was good, but the cake was crumbly and stuck to the paper. He did praise the frosting over and over and asked what else we could put the frosting on.

This was on the heels of an even bigger fail from a from-scratch cupcake recipe that I tried to make for my class. Those went in the trash unfrosted! I bought Little Debbies instead.

I gave in and used a mix for the cake with the original cream cheese frosting. Success.

I am keeping up with my 6th grade math skills by helping Stephanie with her homework. I wonder when she will reach the point where I can no longer be helpful. I took Algebra II/Trig in high school and did well...but now?

This reminds me of a funny story. Last year a substitute didn't show up for one of the 5th grade teachers. So I sold my prep time to take over the class for an hour. It happened to be math. I came in and told the kids to hold on a minute while I took a glance at their math lesson for the day. One of the kids raised his hand and asked if I was going to be able to teach them the math because I was, after all, only a 2nd grade teacher.

He got the classic raised eyebrow from me as I told him that I am more than capable of teaching 5th grade math.


Here's a look at the electronics that I have been wearing on a daily basis at school. On the right is the new microphone we got this year. It's works wonders, I tell you.

On the left is a timer that vibrates. I have been wearing it to monitor the behavior of my new student. It vibrates at the interval whatever interval you set it. I was monitoring him every.ten.minutes. After two weeks of this, I decided this was not the answer. I was being held hostage every ten minutes. Every ten minutes I was getting resentful all over again of him coming to our class. I was starting to go nuts! {Ask Greg & the kids!} Thursday I decided that I was going to another monitoring system ~ every hour. Much more manageable and no more nutso...much.

Wendy took the kids and me to dinner and a production of Hairspray put on by the arts high school. It was amazing! I was so impressed by the talent and caliber of production. Wendy knows one of the girls in the musical. When she met the kids after the show, she invited them to come to her senior dance choreography show. The girls are excited about that.

We had a great time. Thanks, Wendy!


Friday, February 25, 2011

it's been a long time coming

So one day, Kaylene shows me a purse that she bought. She loved the look of it, but didn't like that it didn't have pockets inside or a zipper. But what sold her was the ruffled flower on the front. She told me she thought I should make a purse similar to it.

Some of the other ladies at school oohed and aahed over the purse, telling me they'd love one like that.

The gauntlet had been thrown.

Challenge accepted.

But before I could get started, I had to mull over how the construction would work. Zippers in a pouch ~ sure, I've done that. In a purse? Uh, no. I'd have to research that one. I worked and reworked making this purse in my head before the scissors or needle ever touched fabric.

I decided to practice on a pair of Heather's old jeans with some really pretty new fabrics. I'm loving the contrast of the black, white, and red with the softness of the jeans.

I decided to go all out and learn how to sew a zippered inside pocket as well. There's a fun polka dot surprise inside that pocket.

I added three pockets along the other side of the purse.

I practiced an inset zipper on a purse I made for one of Stephanie's friends for her birthday.  I ran into a problem, though because the tutorial called for four separate panel pieces ~ two for the outer and two for the inner. With the jeans, the outer panels are already sewn together. I didn't want to lose that outside seam with the classic copper top stitching.

So I found another tutorial I could manipulate to fit my needs. The tutorial required taking the zipper completely apart, then reassembling it. No, thanks. I made it work without the disassembly.

I'm pretty pleased with how this cute purse turned out. I have a few ideas how to make the next one easier to sew. I even have an idea or two about different variations for the front.

I'm with Kaylene, I love the ruffly flower on the front!


Thursday, February 24, 2011

a very temporary solution

Holy ribbon, Batman!

I have these cute rainbow cubby drawers for my scrapbook & paint supplies in the craft room. One set for paint and one set for scrapbooking. In the scrapbooking set there are two drawers designated for ribbon. And then I have more ribbon elsewhere. There's no such thing as too much ribbon in my opinion.

This drawer housed the unspooled ribbon. It was so out of control that I ended up pulling it out and setting it on my paint table. And there it sat. For months. And months. Things piling up around it. Our life tends to get like that.

And then I wanted to use the paint side of the table again. Time to clean up.

But what is a girl with a lot of ribbon and inadequate drawer space to do?

About a month ago oatmeal was on a very killer sale. The kids dig this kind, so we bought several boxes. Like a pack rat thrifty gal, I cut apart the boxes and saved them for repurposing. Do not report me to that hoarders show! I had three very specific uses for these in mind when I cut them. This is one of them.

I cut the panels in half, then wrapped my unspooled ribbon around them ~ tidy storage and it's easy to see what I have.

First, I taped one end to the cardboard. Then wound and wound.

Then I pinned the ends to keep them from going every which way.

Oooo ~ look at this handy dandy sock sorter I took out of Stephanie's drawers a few months ago. It's the perfect size for my cardboard. I sorted the rolls by color.

This tote already had the blacks and browns.

Much better.

Oh. Before you go thinking I did an amazing organizing job. Here's what's left in the drawer that now fits back in the rack. There's still another drawer of spooled-but-seldom-used-but-I-still-might-need-it ribbon. In the middle of this project I realized it really wasn't going to work for my space. I don't really have a good spot for the sock organizer and yellow tote. I have another solution in mind, but it will have to wait a little bit. This is good enough for now.

So why am I telling you about this solution that's not really a solution? Well, it could easily be a solution for someone who has a reasonable amount of ribbon. Maybe you? I got the idea from this Just a Girl post and it seems to work well for her.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

keeping up is hard to do

Thanks to the former presidents, I had a nice long weekend. I got a lot done, yet I got nothing done.

I spent part of my weekend with this.

And working on this. I think it is done. Maybe. I have to wait and see. I'll show you when I know for sure.

Sister secrets ~ getting along sometimes means plotting against their neighbor buddies they were playing some game with. Hey, at least they aren't plotting against their parents. Right?

Other projects were finished and there was some cooking fun in the kitchen. We'll have to catch up later.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Y'all know I like to provide my family with a home-cooked meal ~ the more from scratch, the better. But there are some days that they are lucky I stay awake for dinner! Last night when we got home from dance class the only thing I was interested in doing was counting sheep. But Stephanie still had homework. Instead of telling everyone to have cereal, I busted out the quickest.dinner.ever!

I'd like to introduce you to my friend, Mr. Frozen Taquito. Of course they are far more crispy and delicious if you actually cook them in the oven. But on a night like last night, that 8 minutes is far too long. The microwave instructions are for 2.5 minutes.

Fancy them up with shredded ice berg lettuce (cut while the first batch was cooking), shredded cheese, and salsa. There you have dinner in a flash that looks fancier than it sounds. This method of serving them is actually a copycat of how a local fast food place serves them.

Nothing says, "I love you" like dressed up frozen Mexican food.

Kitchen tip: Don't want to get out the grater for cheese every time you want some? Don't. And don't buy those too expensive bags of cheese that have ingredients added to them that are tricky to pronounce. I use my food processor to grate the whole pound (or two) brick of cheese at once and store it in a Tupperware in the fridge. Cheese all the time.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

tales from the schoolyard

The other day I was explaining something to my students (don't remember the topic) and I said, "unless you are a freak of nature...."

A very sweet boy innocently raised his hand and said, "What is a freak of nature?" All of a sudden I couldn't think of a delicate way to explain it. Everything that came to mind sounded ~ well, freakish.

I should really think before I speak sometimes!

Before the beginning of the year all of our classrooms were equipped with receivers and speakers. We were given microphones on lanyards to use during class. Apparently there's research about using them saving teachers' voices and us being less tired (ha!) and the kids being able to focus and learn better. I have noticed a difference in them between when I am wearing it and when I'm not.

But sometimes I feel like a lounge singer.

Requests anyone?

I'm here all week.

These pictures have nothing to do with my schoolyard stories ~ they are to tease Sharon. Almost done, Sharon, almost done. I don't know what's taking me so long besides the fact that I try to do 57 crafts & home management items at once!


Monday, February 14, 2011

heart day

Happy Valentine's Day!

Lots of love from our house to yours.


menu plan monday ~ february 14

I think someone really wanted us to buy Frosted Flakes at the grocery store. Luckily for them, a box found its way into the shopping cart when Greg went shopping yesterday.

This week we will be having:

  • teriyaki chicken
  • chicken marsala
  • steak & noodles
  • spaghetti & meatballs
  • alfredo chicken bake
  • pork chops & mashed potatoes
  • chicken pot pie

What's cookin' in your kitchen?

Visit for more menu ideas.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

this week

What have you been up to this week? Our computer was out of commission for a few days while Greg did some rearranging of files, disc repair, blah, blah, blah on it. During the school year it's not unusual for me to go a few days without sitting at the computer. But as soon as it's not available, let me tell you, it seemed like everything I needed or wanted to do was on the computer.  

I have had an idea in my head for a little while of something I want to try. I used to paint all the time, but haven't for a while. The kind of painting I want to try is different than anything else I've done. I'm a little nervous about it, but have decided to take the risk.

When Greg saw what I bought with my gift card, he got a pretty scared look on his face. The look that said, "Oh, no. Another thing." All I can say is he's lucky I haven't ever decided to knit or crochet! Ha!

Monday before dance, Heather wanted a snack with protein. We were out of the fiber bars she usually eats so I told her to have some peanut butter and crackers. Tuesday she brought the ingredients to school to recreate the snack for her breakfast ~ Ritz crackers, peanut butter, and almond pieces.

This is sometimes how I use my dance-studio-bench-warming time. That's right ~ I know how to spice up a party!

Little cutie at the roller rink! The PTA sponsored a skate night. Stephanie was MIA for this event because she was at a play at her school.

I stayed at work a little bit late on Friday night getting my lesson plans and other stuff ready for next week. The killer is that I still have so much to do! My room is a disaster area.

Sneak peak ~ I took that chance and stepped out of my comfort zone. Even though I kinda don't know what I'm doing, it seems to be working out so far and hopefully won't be totally ridiculous when I'm finished. I'm hoping it works out, because I've got ideas for other ones already lined up.


Monday, February 7, 2011

what's another word for random?

Chronicling my February days in pictures is leaving me with some really random pictures...which leads to pretty random posts...which leaves you shaking your head wondering why I seem so...well...random.

Friday it was my turn to bring lunch for the 2nd grade teachers. I made this cute little dessert in honor of the Month of Love. They turned out pretty cute. They were easy too!

Happiness is getting a full session of hairapy. I was considering going short. Luckily, Greg talked me down from that ledge of destruction. I did get some of the length taken off in an effort to get rid of some of the wispy layers on the ends. It turns it was enough of a difference to matter, but not enough of a difference to deter me from my ultimate goal. I am easily bored with my hair and need something different. This can make a goal of a longer do seem unbearable at times. No need to be rash about it, though. Right?

I know, you're probably thinking it's no different at all and I am completely cuckoo. It's different enough for me. 

When I picked Stephanie up from her sleepover and announced that we were going to the craft store she was m.a.d. But her friend's house if already half way to the store, so why not take advantage of that and the gift card that was burning a hole in my pocket. I've got some fun ideas up my sleeve. I need to get busy on them cuz the space up my sleeve is getting a little crowded. 

She was convinced she would be imprisoned at the store for a miserable two hours. Surprise, surprise. It was only one hour and she managed to have a little fun in the meantime. 



Thursday, February 3, 2011

february in photos

For the month of February, I will chronicle a photo every day. Notice I didn't say I'd post every day, just take a photo. And because I'm such a generous soul who tells everybody too much of my beeswax, I'm going to share those photos with you.

Remember I said I didn't "big pink puffy heart" decorate for Valentine's? I need to take part of that back because I made a puffy heart for decoration. I was going to put this in the shop, but she sat on the shelf for a while before I could get a picture. I think I'm keeping her.

Unless, of course, you've got to have her. Then let me know. We'll talk.

I found my reading mojo again.

Big sigh.

Here's a little back story ~ Last school year I was having a really hard time with this teaching profession I have chosen for myself. If I could have quit and found another job (or stayed home) with the same days off, same contract hours, the same ability to meddle be involved in the girls' school life, and at least the same pay I would have quit in a heartbeat. I actually muttered the words, "I hate my job" to my principal behind a veil of tears. There was a lot involved in those feelings that I won't bore you with. One day after listening to me complain endlessly, Greg told me that he thought it boiled down to one thing ~ I needed to find my passion for teaching again. I need to find the joy. Gosh, that man is so smart!

This year? I started with a seriously anxious soul, but still with high hopes. It wasn't until a few weeks into school that I realized I was feeling joyful about being in the classroom. The students and I were just getting along so well. Teaching clicked again for me. I was rocking it! My students and I were thriving off each other. They were getting compliments from various staff members. I felt like I was doing the best job I ever have in all these years. Reading levels were moving up and up. I had found the joy again and it was feeling good.


A week ago I got a new student. Any teacher will tell you that getting a new student rocks the boat a little. It takes some time to get that little person acclimated into your classroom family.

On the first day, this boy not only rocked the boat, but he sunk my ship! He drew the very breath out of me. For the past week, I have dreaded going to work. I sit in the parking lot and pray his family will move back to from where they came. My heart skips a beat when I don't see him in line, only to drop later to see him saunter into the classroom.

It breaks my heart to feel this way about a child, but he's robbing my of my joy. He's screwed up the lovely balance of what the other kids and I have established together. I am mad at him. And so are they. I can see it in the looks they give me when he's acting out.

Apparently, we have lessons to learn ~ those kids and me. Apparently, my quest for the joy in teaching is not over. Because today if I were given the offer of same days off, same hours, same meddling privileges, and at least the same pay doing something else, I'd take it.