Saturday, December 27, 2008

Recycled Toilet Paper

I have managed to successfully switch from paper towels to cloth towels, from paper tissues to handkerchiefs, from paper napkins to cloth napkins, but of course toilet paper remains a paper usage!
However, I was rather proud of the fact that I was purchasing toilet paper that was made from recycled paper as opposed to virgin fibers! Comparing costs and packaging materials, I settled on Marcal toilet paper and have been very happy with that.
The only issue that troubled me was that the multi pack was packaged in PLASTIC! In comparing the cost of purchasing individual rolls that were wrapped in paper, I found that the cost was double!
So, today, I did a bit of internet searching to see if I could purchase my toilet paper at a reasonable price without having it wrapped in plastic!
I encountered this informative site from the Natural Resources Defense Council, which has some good tables of information regarding recycle percentage and what percent is post consumer waste. While Marcal was considered 100% recycled, only 40% of that is post-consumer waste.
There were several others that had 80% post consumer waste, so I steered my searching in that direction. Actually, Fake Plastic Fish did this same research in 2007, so I followed her ideas!
In looking at's prices, I had to agree with Beth that the subscribe and save was a good deal and a good idea.
I can purchase a 48 count case of single ply tissue (1000 sheets per roll or 48000 sheets per case) or 2-ply tissue (500 sheets per roll or 24000 sheets per case) for the same price: $47.80 with Subscribe and save. (and it qualifies for free shipping!) Since we are using a single ply tissue now, staying with that type of produce is probably what I will do.
One last bit of research is for me to check with Oma (the local health food store) to see if I can get this cheaper there.

And for an additional bit of information, check out this site.

Friday, December 26, 2008

In the Spirit of Giving

Several months ago, I read about, a website that helps teachers obtain much needed school supplies. I did a bit of research into the site and decided it was worth the effort to see what would happen if I submitted a project. I had to write a detailed proposal, use their online mall to create a materials list and wait for approval.

On September 15th, my project was submitted and accepted and "Who Founded That Religion?" was one of hundreds of projects on the site that were waiting for funding!

My sister had also mentioned another website that worked to get funds to teachers for school supplies. So, I checked out It worked very differently from, as it was a simpler process. For, all you did was list what you would like and how much you estimated it would cost.

Either way, it was worth seeing what would happen.

Well, over Thanksgiving, I received an email from letting me know that someone wanted to donate money to my classroom! Was I surprised! I was able to purchase pencils and markers for the classroom.

Then on the last day of school before Christmas break, I received an email from letting me know that my Religion project had been fully funded! Woo Hoo!

I am truly thankful for the generosity of others that makes it easier for me to do what I love!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Trash to Treasure Part 2

I neglected to update on this project!
From our 'trash' cereal boxes and other similar boxes, my class created little pyramids. They were required to cut 4 equilateral triangles and one square out of the cardboard, then assemble these pieces into a pyramid.
The students who read the instructions and measured their triangles and squares- actually managed to assemble their pyramids.

Those who just cut mindlessly were unable to get their pieces to fit.

The lesson here---follow instructions!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Angels among us

The Chester County High School puts up an Angel Tree each year, which holds the wishes and hopes and needs of many of our Chester County residents. There are individual children as well as entire families represented on this tree.

This year, the number of requests were higher than in previous years, so the coordinator sent a request out to all of the teachers in the county. In a two day period of time, all 287 angels and Santas (angels are individuals, Santas are families) were claimed. It is wonderful to see the generosity of our town, especially when times are hard for all.

In church this morning, our first reading seemed especially appropriate to these requests:
From 2 Corinthians 9:6-9---Remember this--whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: "They have scattered abroad their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever."

Our church and Sunday School classes are sponsoring a family in need this year, and I had tears in my eyes when I looked at the donations I have already been given to help this family. The generosity and loving spirit of my friends just overwhelms me.

As Thanksgiving approaches us this week, please take a moment to reflect on the blessings you have in your life, find the joy in what you have and share yourself with others.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Stingy Jack

Each year on Halloween, I teach a history lesson about how Halloween came to be the holiday it is today. We discuss the religious and cultural aspects of the holiday and how those different ideas and beliefs blended into what Americans celebrate.

My favorite Halloween myth is the one about Stingy Jack. It is the story of how Jack O'Lanterns came to be.

There was this Irishman named Jack who was very miserly. The story goes that he was having a drink with the Devil one night and promised to give the Devil his soul if the Devil paid for the drinks. The Devil changed himself into a coin to pay the bartender, and Jack, being stingy and miserly, snatched up the coin and put it in his pocket. Jack always carried a silver cross in that pocket and the cross kept the Devil from changing back into his original form. Jack made the Devil promise to leave him alone for a year. One year later, the Devil sought out Jack to take his soul, but Jack tricked the Devil again by asking the Devil to get him an apple from a tree as his last meal. The Devil, figuring he had nothing to lose climbed the tree. Jack immediately put crosses around the trunk of the tree, trapping the Devil. He would not release the Devil until the Devil promised to leave Jack alone for 10 years and that if Jack died, he would not claim Jack's soul. The Devil agreed and Jack released the Devil.

When Stingy Jack eventually passed away several years later, he went to the Gates of Heaven, but was refused entrance because of his life of drinking and because he had been so tight-fisted and deceitful. So, Jack then went down to Hell to see the Devil and find out whether it were possible to gain entrance into the depths of Hell, but the Devil kept the promise that had been made to Jack years earlier, and would not let him enter.

"But where can I go?" asked Jack.

"Back to where you came from!" replied the Devil.

The way back was windy and very dark. Stingy Jack pleaded with the Devil to at least provide him with a light to help find his way. The Devil, as a final gesture, tossed Jack an ember straight from the fires of Hell. Jack placed the ember in a hollowed-out of Jack's favorite foods which he always carried around with him whenever he could steal one. From that day forward, Stingy Jack has been doomed to roam the earth without a resting place and with only his lit turnip to light the way in the darkness.

Have a fun Halloween!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fall Break

Ah, an entire week to do whatever I want to do!!

I had great plans for this week, and then reality settled in and I shortened the list!

I spent time in my studio finishing up some quilt projects. I quilted two baby quilts and sewed the binding on. I only have to hand sew the binding to the backs. I finished the binding on Rob's quilt and hand quilted 2 more blocks (that makes 9 out of 32). I also worked on a few more blocks for my Mother-in-law's quilt (I think I have 5 out of 16) My MIL's quilt is a sampler, so each block is completely different. These are the blocks for my Underground Railroad Quilt. I also cut out the fabric for the sashing and borders for this quilt.

I also finally finished stocking my Etsy shop! I have 9 items listed and more to come. I did create another 10 baby bibs from my stash in addition to the other quilting projects I worked on this week so far. I have to just put on the velcro and do the top stitching.

I plan to spend today finishing up some more of the projects, as it is a rainy day here in Tennessee!!

Monday, September 29, 2008

From Trash to Treasure??

Every year in school, the students get involved in 4-H. Each month they have a contest to promote different skills. The first month is usually entitled 'From Trash to Treasure' which works to encourage the students to create something useful and wonderful from trash.
I want to believe that I am encouraging this in the classroom this year by my own actions!
Our first Social Studies Project will be making Pyramid Trading Cards. These are similar to baseball cards in that they will have a picture of a pyramid on the front and statistics about the pyramid on the back.
The cardboard base of the trading card will be cut from cereal boxes. The kids liked the idea of bringing in trash to school that we then use!

Another project I want to work on is to make models of pyramids. The pattern I have uses a 21" square piece of poster board. I want to avoid asking my students to buy poster board, but I have yet to find a source for thin cardboard (paperboard) that will yield a 21" square. I thought about using a smaller piece of cardboard, but then the model is to small for the other part of the project. Other types of cardboard are not thin enough to fold well. I have some friends who work in retail, I plan to ask them if they receive anything in that I can use for this!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Can I reduce paper towel usage further?

Over the past year or so, I have stopped using paper napkins and tissues. I was just contemplating paper towel usage.
I do not use them to dry my hands, nor do I use them for cleaning.

I find that the only time I use them is to pick up a mess the dogs have made.
It is time to designate some old worn-out dishtowels for this purpose. Then the only use for paper towels would be when Vince makes his greasy, stinky steak sandwiches.

Can I come up with a method that will work and that Vince will use? Ah, there is the question of the day!!

I know my mother use to use brown paper bags to absorb grease, but we no longer get paper bags when we shop. We bring our own.

I have some old dish towels that are not terrycloth, so perhaps they would work and not leave terrycloth fibers on the steaks. Any thoughts?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


We have started our Social Studies Chapter on Egypt. Yesterday, we created T-charts showing what the students know about Egypt and what they want to know about Egypt. The plan is to create cross-curricular lessons involving Math and Social Studies. After reading an article in Education Week about the need to extend learning time, I am even happier that I am planning to make this Egypt unit work for more than one subject.
Over 25 years ago, A Nation At Risk was published, which was a report urging the American public to see that our nation was falling behind other countries and that our education system needed to be reformed. While there are always changes being made, it is up to the individual teachers to work hard at making the most of the time we are given.
One of the challenges for the students will be in the project area of this unit, they will only be able to re-use items to create their projects! There will be pyramids, hieroglyphics and trading cards created. Let's see how they do!