Sunday, December 27, 2009

My New Year's Resolutions. 10 in 10.

1. Cease drinking soda. Not only will this eliminate one more plastic item from my life, but it will improve my health!

2. Do not purchase new clothes for one year. I really have enough clothing to survive work and play without any new purchases.

3. Save the savings. Every penny saved when shopping for groceries will be physically put aside.

4. Reduce my personal belongings. I own way too many items! My goal this year will be to reduce the excess by at least one item a week! Of course, I will also remove one item for each item that I bring into the house.

5. Read at least 3 books to improve my teaching skills.
I am currently reading "Differentiating Math Instruction", so I am off to a good start on this one!

6. Keep my tax records more organized for 2010. I do manage to keep the majority of my receipts in one place in preparation for my income tax returns, but there are always a few items that slip through the cracks. I will keep better records for 2010.

7. Walk 10,000 steps each day. This is probably the easiest one on this list as I walk A LOT during the week. I have found in the past that keeping track of my steps with a pedometer motivates me to exercise more. So, I have dusted off the pedometer and will keep track of my steps.

8. Reduce my fabric stash. This is one that I often start and then it gets away from me. I never want to see fabric go to waste, thus I save every scrap and accept every box of fabric someone else wants to give me. (That is how I ended up with 5 boxes of fabric scraps last summer!) So, this year, I will NOT purchase any fabric that is not for a specific project. All of my projects MUST have some fabric from my stash incorporated into them. I will also make charity quilts from my stash to speed the reduction in my excess fabrics.

9. Make time for ME! This is a full category, as it can include any activity that is geared toward 'me time'. I initially wanted to say something about spending time quilting, or watching the movies I have stacked up to watch, or reading the books I have piled on the bookshelf. Then I realized that I could lump all of these activities into one category and call it 'me time'. I know that I am re-energized when I have a sense of accomplishment and that includes accomplishing an activity for myself.

10. Blog about these resolutions every month. Then I will be accountable and I will be able to see what I have managed to accomplish!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Preparing Your Life

I was watching a movie in which this quote was used:
God will send the rain when he's ready.
You need to prepare your fields to receive it.

I decided that it was a good place to start my New Year's greeting to all of my friends and family.

The reason I liked this quote is that it can apply to anyone's life. Ask yourself what you are doing with your life. Are you just going through the motions or are you building and creating something wonderful? Each and every day should be looked upon as a new adventure, as one tiny part of your entire life, but holding an immense amount of value. It should not be wasted. In our society today, there are so many issues struggling for our attention, for our time. We often forget to take time for ourselves, and in so doing, forget to give time to others. Our focus is sometimes off kilter and needs to be readjusted from time to time. Take the time to adjust your focus.

Some people make New Year's Resolutions. I normally make one every year and work hard to keep that one. My resolution is one that will improve my life or someone else's life.

Give thought to where you are, where you are going, where you want to be. Then lay the groundwork to get there. Prepare your fields. If you are ready, it will happen. This year, I will be making plans (resolutions, if you choose) that will simplify my life as well as improving it.

What will you do?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dry Erase Markers

One of the best inventions for a classroom is Dry erase boards and markers. They are neater than chalk boards, clean up somewhat easier and you get to use a huge variety of colors!

The biggest problem I have with them is that the markers are PLASTIC and not recyclable! It was only the other day as I was throwing yet another marker away that I realized what a huge amount of waste is created by these markers!

I did a bit of research on the internet and found EcoSmart markers, which state they are made from recycled material, are recyclable and most importantly are REFILLABLE!!!

I am awaiting my Terracycle recycling credits so that I can order the starter kit.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cold weather, Warm fires.

Now that winter has arrived in Tennessee, it is time to stoke the fire in our woodstove to heat the house. Daily, wood is brought into the house and piled in the metal washtub to keep it off the floor (thus preventing SOME of the dirt from reaching the floors!). Vince is best at starting fires in the woodstove, but I am learning (or should I say 'relearning') how to start a fire.

It never fails that I will be watching Vince start the fire and the Chicago Fire song pops into my head. You know the one:

One dark night
When we were all in bed
Old Mother Leary
Left a lantern in the shed

And when the cow kicked it over,
She winked her eye and said,
"There’ll be a hot time
In the old town, tonight."


I believe I learned this song at Girl Scout Camp!!

Nevertheless, I sing it a lot during the winter months and Vince really doesn't enjoy it, but he laughs anyway.

I did a bit of research and found these expanded lyrics

I also liked this essay about the O'Leary Legend. It provided a lot of insight into the history of Chicago at that time and the evidence that supports that Mrs. O'Leary's and/or her cow was responsible for this devastating fire.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Saturday Fun!

My day started off a little mundane. I traveled to the 'big city' of Jackson to drop off some of the printer cartridges one of my student's parents gave me this week. They are the large laser printer cartridges and I have FOUR LARGE BOXES in my truck. The local office supply store only takes FIVE a day, so I gave my five cartridges and left to complete the rest of my errands in Jackson.

I spent a very little bit of time in Hancock Fabrics as I needed a piece of fleece for a project. Fortunately, I found a lovely dark blue one in the remnant section and then had to brave Target for dog food for the puppies. Fortunately, I managed to find a check out lane with NO LINE and was out in no time!

Then I traveled south to Henderson, and visited with mom for a while. I hooked up her computer and got her connected to the internet. When I left, she was happily browsing the internet.

Off to home to have lunch and visit with my hubby for a while before heading off to a wake and then dinner with a friend.

I have watched the movie Fireproof, graded papers and rinsed out all of the drink pouches from this week's collections.

I then remembered that I needed to get my holiday bibs into my Etsy store. I had to take photos and so I set up the rocking horse near the stairs. This is the photo above. I took the pictures and returned upstairs to post the bibs.

While I was working, Narnia told me she needed to go out. So, I opened the door and called Kashmir to go out. Not really paying attention, it took me a while to realize she was not running upstairs to go outside. Then she started barking. Well, Kashmir rarely barks. I would say that she saves her barks so that when she does bark, it must be VERY IMPORTANT!! Kashmir was downstairs barking, and Narnia became confused and she started barking outside, and then ran inside and barked inside.

Only then did I realize that I had left the rocking horse at the bottom of the stairs with the panda bear sitting on it wearing his santa hat.

Apparently Kashmir had her own opinions on my scenery! It took her about 3 minutes to gather her courage to run past the terrifying panda bear on the rocking horse (or perhaps it was the Santa Hat!).

Life is never boring here!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

4-H Service Projects

When I first started teaching, I did not want to take much of an active roll in the 4-H activities that take place in my class. There is one meeting each month where the students learn different life skills and participate in demonstrations and contests. The goals of 4-H are to develop leadership skills, life skills and citizenship.

So, as I stated, I initially did not want to be very involved. My observations that first year lead me to conclude that without my involvement, many of the students would not participate in these monthly meetings. I also began to see each meeting and as a teachable moment!

One of the activities that 4-H promotes is community service. At first, my students wanted to settle on the fact that we are recycling in the classroom and that is a community service project. I agreed with them, but told them that the recycling was my idea and while they could use that as one of the projects for this year, they needed to come up with at least two more on their own!

In a meeting in October, my students decided to start collecting money for a local animal rescue group to help purchase food and supplies. To make the collecting easy, the class comes back to the classroom for lunch on Fridays, but in order to pass through the door, they have to donate $0.25. We have over $30 so far!

One of their other service projects was to sponsor two needy children from the High School's Angel Tree. The children are all members of our local community, so the students are happy to help out someone close to home. We sponsored a little boy and a little girl and today I cheerfully gave the gifts that my class brought in to the Angel Tree Coordinator.

I also got them involved in, and they are busily answering questions every day and collecting their grains of rice! (I like FreeRice as it gets them thinking!!)

They have plans to help out at the local thrift store one Saturday, and have not decided on their final project.

The secretary wrote up the reports for the 4-H officer so that the class can receive credit for completing these projects.

It is amazing to watch them brainstorm ideas and then carry them through to the end. At least some of them are learning how to take responsibility for themselves and others, how to help out someone less fortunate than themselves, and they are proud of their accomplishments. I am glad that I got so involved this year, as the students abilities are really shining through!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Day After Thanksgiving!

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner! We celebrated a day early, on Wednesday, due to everyone's schedules working out best for that day! It was wonderful to have my family around the table enjoying a traditional meal. As we did last year, Rob and I prepared as much as we possibly could on Tuesday so that Wednesday was a 'light kitchen duty' day. The turkey was tender and juicy, with the meat falling off the bones. Even with making double the amount of stuffing, there was not much left over (and I LOVE leftover stuffing!). Even eating turkey leftovers yesterday was fun. Vince did the warming up while I sat and watched old movies and quilted.

Today is Buy Nothing Day! Normally, I would stay at home, avoiding the stores like the plague. I do not buy much at the holidays anyway, but especially today! However, my mother-in-law wants to go out to the craft store to buy some holiday items and I am accompanying her! I have no intention of buying anything. I will bring along my fabric tote bags and prevent her from bringing more plastic bags into the house. (I think she has added at least a dozen to my pantry bag box since her arrival--mind you it was empty of plastic grocery sacks before her arrival!)
I will not have achieved my goals of avoiding driving, turning off the computer and other non-essential electronics or avoiding the stores today.

I do rest comfortably knowing that I am doing my part to reduce consumption on a daily basis by turning off my appliances, not driving my vehicle every day, and not buying everything brand new if I truly need something.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Why Buy American?

With the holidays upon us, some people share the holiday spirit by sharing gifts with family and friends. Why not buy only American Made Products? It is your choice as a consumer.

Handmade, or not, buying products made by Americans will help to support our country. Money spent on American made products help to provide jobs for Americans.

According to,

"Dollars spent on American-made products stay in America and that helps all of us. Patriotic Spending protects stable, quality jobs for Americans. The money they earn comes back to us again when they choose wisely by exercising Patriotic Spending. When the combined buying power of the American consumer is used to purchase American products, those dollars stay within our own system. We call this "Recycling Dollars" and it's a concept that can make our economy strong again.

The power of change is in our wallets.

We are in control of our Country's future every time we make a purchase.

Choose wisely!

You can also check out for handmade gifts. Also remember to check out local craft shows and fairs. Many church groups, schools and sometimes even hospitals host creative crafters showcasing their products.

Buy local and buy American!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cavallino Rosso Takes home a Trophy

At the local car show yesterday, Cavallino Rosso was one of the top 5 People's Choice winners! She is very proud of her new trophy, she lorded it over Vince's newest acquisition, the 1991 TransAm. He was green with envy as we drove home from the show.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

How to Recycle Anything

In my aimless wanderings through the Internet, I stumbled upon this article from Real Simple magazine. It was entitle "How to Recycle Anything". Since recycling is still in its infancy here in Chester County, I thought there might be some good ideas in this article.

What I found was an interesting collection of information, from suggested places that recycle compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CLF), to websites that collect used crayons and remake them into new ones (

Did you know that Crocs can be recycled too? The company will recycle them into new shoes! You do have to send your old ones to California though!

My favorite upcycler, Terracyle, was mentioned in this article. Did you know that Terracycle is now upcycling Malt-o-meal bags? Yup, so Carrabba's class is collecting them too! (along with Drink pouches, cookie wrappers, chip bags, candy wrappers, Kashi packaging, Clif wrappers, Scott products outer wrappers, Huggies outer wrappers, and Aveeno tubes).

I was reminded about St. Jude's Ranch,which recycles greeting cards into new cards. My sister had told me about St. Jude's ranch before, but I had actually forgotten about them. I usually take my old greeting cards and cut them up for scrapbooking or for gift tags. This may be a worthwhile project for my students this year as well!

It is worthwhile to check out the article in detail, as there may be an idea lurking there that you have not thought of. An idea for what to do with those items that are hanging out in the back of your closet or kitchen cabinet, bottom of your drawer, or corner of your cedar chest.

I have reduced or eliminated the purchase of many items because of the packaging they come in. However, it is not possible for me to eliminate all that I want to. If you are like me, I rinse it out and save it instead of tossing it in the trash. I always figure that there is a use for it somewhere, I just have to find it.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Fall Break Day Eight

Well, here it is, the last Saturday of my Fall Break. I did manage to finish this quilt top yesterday. At the beginning of my Fall Break, this top was still in pieces, the letters were not even cut out. I knew that it had been taking up space on my project table for quite some time, but I did not realize just how much time until I looked at the date on the magazine that I found the pattern in. It was from 2007. I know that I have had the fabrics since then because I purchased them right after seeing the magazine! Regardless, finally here it is! I only have to quilt it and then put the prairie points around the edge.

Now that I have this top finished, I decided to start another project that was taking up space UNDER my project table. (Yes, I have a table full of projects and others are in baskets underneath the table) I purchased the fabrics for this project in March when we were traveling through Pennsylvania. This is a shot of the main fabric, it has peacocks and peahens on it! The quilt was one that I saw on display in Burkholder's. It was set up as a kit, but I did not care for the pastel hues of the fabrics chosen. The ladies at Burkholder's were wonderful enough to sell me the pattern and templates for this quilt and helped me pick out fabrics that are more my style. I sat down this morning and started cutting out the fabrics for my first block. I also cut out the six blocks that feature these lovely peacocks!

While cutting out the block pieces using my new templates, I found that I had a bunch of these little triangles left over. So, I thought...well, some bug could make a quilt out of these! So, here is my quilt kit for an Ant!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fall Break Day Four

Here it is! I have finished Beth's T-Shirt quilt. It will be on its way to her later this week!

Finishing this project has motivated me to work on others! I mentioned the Alphabet block quilt already. I have the blocks stitched into rows and have picked up the border fabrics. I also played around with the fabrics for a quilt that I bought the pattern and fabrics for in March of this year.

I did finish grading papers yesterday and today I carried them to school so that I could grade the workbooks that awaited me there. While I was there, I cleaned the dry-erase boards and the desks. At least the grading and cleaning are finished! Now I only have to plan lessons for next week!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Start of Fall Break

Yesterday, I had to clean up the quilt studio. There were many items out of place, not the least of which were quilt projects! I rinsed out the drink pouch recycling from last week as part of the studio clean up.

I worked on Beth's T-Shirt Quilt. I would estimate that I have a bit more than half of it quilted already.

I played around with designs for a baby quilt, but finally decided that I did not like the fabric blocks I was working with. Now those blocks have been sewn into panels that will become baby bibs.

Today, I finished stitching the fabric blocks into panels for baby bibs. I also started stitching a long ago prepared project with Alphabet block fabric! I have all of the square in a square blocks finished! I did not work on Beth's quilt today because daylight was gone by the time I sat down to work on any stitching.

I actually spent the better part of today working on itemizing Rob's expenses.

I finally photographed and posted the pillowcases on Etsy. Since some of them are halloween fabrics, I figured they needed to get listed!

Tomorrow is another 'at home' day. I plan to get papers graded and finish quilting Beth's quilt.

Boxtops for Education

Ever notice this image on the top or side of the package on an item you have in your pantry or cabinet? It shows up on many many items that some people use every day! This little coupon can earn a local school $0.10.

Now I know what you are saying. "What good can $0.10 do?" Well, it can do wonders. The reason is that if every person saves every one of these little coupons and sends it to a school, then the school coordinator can use the money generated from these coupons to purchase items for their school. Last year, our school raised over $1300 that our librarian used to purchase new books and other educational items for the school library.

If you purchase an item that has this coupon on the side, please cut it out and send it to me for my school, or if you have a child in school, send it to their school. If you have a friend, relative or co-worker with a child in school, perhaps their school saves them too. All I ask is that you do not throw this money in the recycling bin! Please pass it on.

Additionally, (and here is the 'no-cost-to-you-method' of helping!) you can go to the Boxtops For Education Website. There you can enter to win a variety of sweepstakes that can earn additional boxtops for your favorite school. If you don't have a local school that is your favorite, feel free to use mine!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Donors Choose has Challenged All Teachers!!

You all know that I am currently teaching 6th grade in Tennessee. Most of you also know that I have benefited greatly from donations through I have received many wonderful resources for my classroom through donations. My students are working hard and learning every day through the generosity of others, including many of you!

Donors Choose has challenged all teachers associated with the site to collectively get 5,000 people to give to projects. If that happens before October 31st, then DonorsChoose will provide an additional $100,000 worth of funding to projects!

You may have children in school whose teachers have projects on DonorsChoose. If so, contact the teachers and get their links if you are interested in donating to a worthy cause. (remember all of your donations are tax deductible!!) You may have a friend (other than me!) who is a teacher with a project on DonorsChoose. Regardless of who you support, supporting a teacher's project on DonorsChoose is supporting the education of our young people, who are the future of our country.

Please help! Visit:
How Does History Effect What We Do Today
or: What Did He Do To Become Famous?

and support one of my classroom projects. Please also forward this to others to spread the word. If you have your own blog or website, I would love it if you could support my projects by posting this information on your own blog or website!

Thanks in advance for your help in supporting both me AND the teacher community!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Vince bought me a Pony!

Here she is! A 1966 Ford Mustang Coupe.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Well, this is a cool way to upcycle something!

While I am sure there are other creative individuals out there doing this or similar activities, I just wanted to comment on this one today.

I subscribe to the Ideal Bite which provides information about how to be 'greener'. Usually what I dislike is that they will promote the purchasing of 'green' products. Now, I know that if I had to buy something to replace a completely worn out item, I would buy used or upcycled items. I just don't believe that every 'green' product marketed is necessary.

Okay, that said, onto today's Ideal Bite! Belts. Everyone needs a belt and if I had to replace mine, I love the idea of one that use to be something else! This company, Alchemy Goods, is based in Seattle. Their slogan is "turning useless into useful"! They make belts, wallets, bags, purses and other items out of old bike inner tubes and old seatbelts. Cool, huh?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Thank you Sonic!

I never thought I would be thanking a fast food restaurant for anything!

Sonic is currently running a promotion called Limeades for Learning. During this promotion, Sonic will fund $500,000 worth of projects on

Most of you know that I have been working with since last year. I have set up five different math and social studies projects and have been truly blessed to have received funding for all of those projects! Three were last year, and I received reference books on religion and mythology as well as a series of individual Math games. Recently many of you helped me to get my Document Camera project funded (which is a WONDERFUL addition to my lessons. Thanks!)
My most recent project was another series of group math games focusing on Probability and Algebra.

I had registered as a Sonic Teacher and was busily promoting the Sonic program in my classes and within my circle of friends. Well to my pleasant surprise, my Math project was funded last Friday! YAY!

The way this Sonic program works is that each drink has a code on the side of it, sort of like the Subway Scrabble or McDonalds Monopoly games. Folks can take these Sonic codes and go to and vote for their favorite project. My Math project received 82 votes and we were funded! Since Sonic is giving away $100,000 each week, I was really excited to see that my project squeezed in!

My current pending project is for a series of Ancient World Maps. I would love for my students to be able to see and understand what the areas looked like during the time periods we are studying, as opposed to what they look like now. They would also benefit from seeing the actual names of the ancient civilizations and empires on the maps!

So, Thank You Sonic.
And, Thank You to everyone who has voted for a project, will vote for a project, has donated to a project or will donate in the future! The education of our children is a community effort. Together we can achieve greatness!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

What I am doing when I should be doing something other than what I am doing!

These are the four finished Sun Bonnet Sue blocks I am making for a lady here in town. There are 20 blocks all together, and I have finished all but the sleeves and bonnets on the remaining 16. Of course, I have several other projects of my own pending, and a project for a lady in California!

This is the floor of my studio bathroom, I use it to rinse out and dry the Drink Pouches that I send to Terracycle. My classroom earns $0.02 for each one! Of course this is just a small portion of what is occupying the room! Just another activity to keep me busy. These represent all of the efforts I take to recycle items in my little town.

Finally, a photo of the lone Silica Gel pack that I did not send to my sister! It represents the efforts that we take to reuse as many items as possible! I even have my friends at the thrift store saving these!

Sunday, August 9, 2009


For many years now, I have belonged to MyPoints (, which is a site where you can earn points for shopping on-line, as well as for reading email advertisements. Over the years, I have earned many gift certificates for shopping for items I would have bought anyway.

So, the point here is that I recently earned a $50 gift certificate to and went shopping for some items I needed in school. I found several puzzles that worked on spatial skills and a set of math blocks that I need, as well as a few math books. Unfortunately, the total came to over $50. Darn.

So, I put everything on hold to think on my purchases a while.

Then I paid my credit card bill and realized that I earned reward points on that card! What is really cool is that when I purchase items on-line through MyPoints, and use this credit card, I earn reward points through two programs!! Yay!

So, I redeemed some points and got another $50 Amazon gift certificate.

Today, I went back to Amazon and reworked my shopping cart. My puzzles, books and blocks should be arriving soon! Yay!

Friday, July 31, 2009

All ready for the new school year!

This is the front corner of my classroom...please note the NEW signs that tell my students that they MUST SHOW THEIR WORK. That pertains to Math class. Some of the students show their work, they usually get the correct answer, and if not, I can help them figure out what they are missing. Some don't have to show their work and still get the correct answer...but they will have to change their methods for a while in class this year. Most of the students don't show their work and really should.

This is one of my NEW bulletin boards:

The board will be interactive. There will be math problems written on the leaves. Students must solve the problems on the leaves each week. There will be 10 problems each week. This board will remain up for the first 6 weeks of school. Then I will change it to one of 4 others that I created.
When I say created...I did not think up the ideas! I just tweaked them and created them in fabric as opposed to just paper. The backgrounds and tree are fabric, the rest is laminated cardstock.
The tree canopy is buttoned on (with really nifty leaf shaped buttons!) and is reversible so that I can create the "Spring into Math" bulletin board in the spring!

This is the back wall of my is floor to ceiling shelves! I love the storage space!
My first year, Vince added some shelves on the left side so the students could stack their books in specific areas. Just to the right of these stacked books are the new paper organizers Vince built for me this year!

A close up of the paper organizers for this year!

And last but never least, here is where we collect items that are recycled in our classroom! Of course, I do have a bin for plastics and aluminum cans, as well as crates for paper!

Above the recycling center are the two previous years' "Time Capsules". At the end of the year, each student creates a mini time capsule that we seal in a box for each class. I also include all of the discipline slips they received, drawings and cards they made, and other items of interest for that class. When they graduate high school, the intention is to invite each class back to open up their time capsule and reminisce!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Carrabba Mushroom Farm??

Whenever it rains, we get lots of things growing around here. Of course the grass grows, the trees grow, the garden grows.....but we also get MUSHROOMS!!
There are white ones, yellow ones, orange ones, brown ones, grey ones, even one that looked purple! They are all over our property! The dogs like to chow down on them whenever they are out in the yard, so we have to keep the dogs penned in whenever we have a crop growing (the dogs tend to throw up---no other serious problems, thankfully) We don't want the dogs to eat the mushrooms, but it is impossible to prevent that when they go out where the shrooms are growing!!!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Together we can do this!

Okay folks, together we can get this DonorsChoose project funded! I have been thinking on this and with Cat thinking along the same lines as I, I guess that is the 'sign' I was looking for!

I really, really, really want this classroom project to be funded, because I really, really, really want to have a document camera for my classroom this year.

For detailed information on this project, check it out at

With this camera, I would be able to use math manipulatives as part of Math lessons. Manipulatives are used to demonstrate math concepts for the students. I would be able to demonstrate with these tools on a flat surface, with the camera projecting my work onto the BIG WHITE SCREEN at the front of the classroom. Every student would be able to see the demonstration easily.

I would be able to read a story to the class, showing them the pictures and text while I am reading, and everyone will be able to see the book easily as it would be projected onto the BIG WHITE SCREEN at the front of the clasroom.

I would be able to demonstrate various map skills for the students, while they are looking at their own copies of the maps.

I would be able to to demonstrate how to fold papers for various foldable projects we do in class.

I can share artifacts with the class without having to spend time passing it around the room, or walking it from student to student.

This camera is not only a wonderful piece of technology that would enhance the classroom learning, but it is a time saving tool as well.

I have already pledged to give all of the money I make in sales from and etsy.

Now, I pledge to match, dollar for dollar, any donations made by individuals between now and Friday of this week.

I encourage you to donate any amount, even one dollar. Do you need a gift for a relative? Make a donation in their name! Check with friends and co-workers, perhaps they are willing to forego their $5.00 coffee for one day and give to a good educational cause. Check with your they have a matching gift program?


Thursday, June 25, 2009


A few weeks ago, I just happened to be in the office at school when Terracycle called to talk to me. They wanted to find out what I thought about their cookie wrapper/drink pouch/candy wrapper/chip bag collection program and how I use it in the classroom.

Here is the published article in the local paper, the Chester County Independent:
Check it out!

Please check and see if anyone locally is upcycling these waste items for Terracycle. It is one way to keep some waste out of our landfills. Not one of these items that is being upcycled is biodegradable; it just sits in the landfill FOREVER!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

One Day without Plastic??

I know that it is difficult to live without plastic. I have been trying for over a year to reduce my plastic use and while I have been successful in many areas, I know I have far to go.

Today, I attempted to go the entire day without using any disposable plastic. I am sad to say I was unsuccessful.

As I was preparing to write this blog, I thought back over my day:

I ate breakfast at home, a bowl of Cheerios. I emptied the box, then tore off the Boxtops for Education coupon for school, folded up the box for recycling, and folded the PLASTIC INNER BAG, so I could use it for trash.

For lunch, we all ate out after working at the Thrift Store. I ate a Chicken Finger meal with a biscuit which came in a paper tray. I brought in my own cup so that I would not use a styrofoam cup. So, no plastic for me at lunch.

Before the above thought process, I thought I only had one offense:

These are the little plastic pricing tags from the Thrift Store where I picked up some shirts for my mother. They are small, but they are disposable plastic.

Then after remembering I had the plastic cereal bag to account for, I realized I had two offenses.


And we have not even started dinner yet. I know there will be plastic there as any meat we decide to prepare will be packaged on a styrofoam tray and wrapped in plastic. Unfortunately for us, that is how meats are packaged here.

Awareness is critical to beginning to control plastic waste.

Be aware.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Plasticky Lives

Today, a coworker of mine attempted to put a plastic soda bottle in my trashcan. I stopped her and said that it was recyclable. She told me it was a plastic soda bottle, and I repeated that it was recyclable and to put it in my wooden basket. I intended to take it home for recycling. She is not use to recycling. The recycling of plastic is relatively new here in our county.

We live in a world where plastic is part of our lives. We cannot get away from it. Every where we look....there it is!

Wallace J. Nichols challenges people to go ONE DAY without using any disposable plastic.
Can you do it? I know it will be a challenge for me! But I am willing to try it. I have been working on reducing my plastic waste for over a year now, and while it is down significantly, I have not managed to reduce it enough that I don't think about it every day.

I challenge you to go ONE DAY without using any disposable plastic. Send me a comment on how you do.

My update will be here tomorrow!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

I have been busy, just not blogging!

I know it has been a while since I blogged about my summer projects, but I really have been busy on them!! Here is Pieces of the Past with the first pieced border and second solid border. The border is comprised of a block known as either Underground Railroad or Jacob's Ladder. I really like the look of this quilt so far! I am hopeful that before the end of this calendar year, I will have this one and several others to pass along to Chris. (the wonderful quilter I found in Oakland)

You can see that my sewing machine is working hard on flying geese units for the next border! The pattern has a different way of making the geese, I started with a 5.25" square and sewed 2.5" squares to the corners, cut them apart and am now sewing another 2.5" square to the first unit and when finished, I will have 2 flying geese units from this weird triangle unit.

I did get tired of working on the Pieces of the Past quilt and dragged out the book Vince gave me for Christmas. It was patterns for Jelly Rolls. I purchased a Jelly Roll from Connecting Threads because I liked the fabric line. I did find that the pattern I picked needed a few more fabrics, so I added to the roll from my stash (Yay, for reducing the stash again!) and I created this lovely scrappy quilt! I have the border fabric picked out and cut, but not sewed in place yet!

Two years ago, Sherry and I attended a Quiltaways weekend in Pennsylvania. This quilt pattern called out to me every place we stopped to shop or look at quilts on Saturday. So, I purchased the pattern and planned to raid my stash for the fabrics. Well, I settled on a fabric for the borders which has lots of fun colors in it.

What I could not decide on were fabrics for the spinning stars. I wanted the fabrics to start light and get darker as they radiated outward. I had some fabrics in my stash which worked, but I was missing some! Last summer, Cat was here and together we worked my stash and visited 2 quilt shops in the Memphis area to fill in the missing colors.

Finally, this summer, I cut and stitched the strips to create these blocks! These are the big blocks, there are also 4 smaller blocks in each color scheme and 2 strips or each color block. The next step is to cut these apart and sew them together in another way!

Yesterday, my class books arrived! At the end of the year, my students completed a journal assignment entitled "A Lesson my Grandparent Taught Me". I loved the responses so much, that I knew it had to become a book. This company called Nationwide Learning has a program called Student Treasures where teachers can get free book kits for the creation of a class book. The kits are free as are all of the shipping costs. The instructions are easy to follow and my students created this great book. There are two shown because both classes completed a book.

Finally, my garden GROWS!! I have spent several early morning hours weeding the garden! We were away for two days and it seems like the garden just bloomed---plants as well as weeds. I even have two potato plants growing! The weather has finally gotten summery, so the heat and humidity are zapping my energy. But, since I awaken at around 6:00 AM EVERY DAY, I have been getting out to the garden to weed. Every morning I manage to pull weeds for an hour before the heat sucked me dry. Today, I decided the bad weeds are pulled, and I just need to maintain the garden by plucking the new shoots. My soaker hose is set up and working nicely as well. We had green beans and cucumbers growing, and many flowers yet to produce vegetables!
It is our first attempt at a garden, so I am thrilled to have anything growing!

Well, I will work hard at keeping you updated more often!

Friday, June 19, 2009

St. Louis

The Arch! It was quite cool and extraordinary!
Rob, Vince and I were there looking at apartments for Rob and after our work was done, we had time to relax and play!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Vanilla Extract update!

I checked on the vanilla extract today and this is what it looks like. It is a nice vanilla extract brown. When I sniffed it, it smelled much more like vanilla extract than vodka! I guess that is the good part!
I figure the more it sits and steeps, the better it will be!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Pieces of the Past Quilt progress

While not the greatest picture, this is the center of one of the quilts I have been working on this summer. This center measures 48.5 " square. It is comprised of 108 flying geese and 144 half square triangles!

I am actually quite pleased with this quilt so far! I have several borders to put on this before it is finished, 3 are simple, but one is comprised of Jacob Ladder blocks and the other is rows of flying geese.

Should be fun!

Today, I worked a bit on the Snow Crazy quilt, finishing the last crazy block and part of the second to last snowman head.

I cut out the letters to make the few posters I plan to put in my classroom this year. I used old magazines to make the letters! I thought it was quite appropriate since one of the posters makes reference to recycling!

I used up almost all of my remaining bulk soap to mold scented bars of soap. Last summer, Vince and I decided to stop buying soaps until all of the bulk soap was used up. Well, we are still working our way through it!! I still have half a block to go, but with a dozen new bars of soap to use, it will be a while before I have to make new bars.

Another positive note: Today I received a donation to one of my Donors Choose projects! YAY!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Vanilla Extract

A while ago, my sister sent me information on how to make vanilla extract. I saved the blog entry, but made no further progress.
Eventually, I did purchase 30 vanilla beans on Ebay (I actually received 31!) for $9.99.

Last week at the commissary, I purchased the Military Special Vodka for $8.57 for one liter.

Today, I 'cooked' up my extract after reading through additional information on the instructables site.

I sliced my beans lengthwise and filled my jar with vodka, stuck in the beans and made sure all of the beans were covered with vodka. Then I put on the lid, shook it well and marveled at how the caviar (the stuff inside the bean pods) swirled around the beans.

Instructables gave detailed instructions on scraping out the caviar and cutting up the bean pods, but I elected to combine their instructions with Bethany's on her blog.

We shall see what happens in a few weeks!

In total, I spent $18.65, and I have made5 cups of extract. According to, 8 ounces of McCormick's pure vanilla extract is $18.03.

So, I think in the cost category, I am ahead of the game.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Yesterday was almost a bust in the quilting progress category. Vince and I went to Millington to shop at the commissary there. It is a bit of a ride, so we make a day of it, enjoying the time together.
Knowing I would have an hour in the car on the way there, I brought along my Snow Crazy blocks. I started this quilt in February in a Class at the Quilt Barn in Arlington. I still have 5 snow man head blocks to embroider. I decided to do the embroidery by hand instead of machine because I loved the look. In the car on the way there and back, I finished on block and completed 3/4 of another.
Grocery shopping always takes all of my energies---looking for wise food choices, picking items that do not have loads of plastic attached (a futile search most often!)!! Not to mention the numerous times I have to handle those groceries.
1. pick it up and put it in the cart
2. take it out of the cart.
3. (fortunately I am spared bagging as the commissary bags for us)
4. putting bags in the car.
5. taking bags out of car and putting them in the wagon to bring them to the house.
6. taking bags out of wagon
7. unloading bags and putting groceries away.

Whew! I touch those items 6-7 times before I even prepare the food!

This morning, I cleaned the studio, putting away items that I have been tripping over in there! I also worked on Pieces of the Past--marking squares for diagonal sewing! I finished the flying geese for the center part of the quilt.

Then, Vince and I actually went to the movies! We saw Star Trek, which was good.
We also went to Lowes and purchased the materials necessary to complete the painting job on the upstairs. That is my task next week. I will be repairing holes in the walls, and painting!

I weeded the garden and turned the earth for tomorrow's plantings. Vince made tomato cages for the garden and tomorrow we will fertilize the garden and get the remainder of the plants in the ground.

Vince and I washed windows today as well; he brought in the ladder to handle the high windows facing the pond. I scrubbed the puppy nose prints off the lower windows!

That's all folks!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Further Progress

On Monday, I completed this quilt top for a friend of mine.

Today, I finished quilting and binding it!

The fabric is based on a book by Eric Carle, Brown Bear, Brown Bear. It is wonderful fabric and will be perfect in Elizabeth's classroom next year!

Today, I also finished the binding on Balloon Race, finished trimming the 144 half square triangles for Pieces of the Past, worked on ONE snowman head for Snow Crazy and started some handkerchiefs for my mom.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Summer Vacation is Here!

Now that school is over for the year, I can focus on all of those unfinished projects I have accumulated since August!
Today, we were still recuperating from our weekend in Rochester so we spent it at home.
As usual, I woke up early, so I started working on a quilt top for a friend of mine (not the one pictured here!) It was the only item on my "to do" list for today, so once I finished the top, I started a few other little projects.
The quilt top shown here is for my mother in law, I started it last summer and stitched the last part of the binding this morning. It is finished and ready for delivery!

I also machine sewed the bindings on the "Just Can't Cut It" king sized quilt and the Underground Railroad quilt. I did a little work on "Pieces of the Past", a kit I have had for more than a year! It has loads of half square triangles and flying geese in it. It is rather challenging so it will require a lot of my attention! I am finally sitting down to hand stitch the binding on the "Balloon Race" quilt, a top I bought the fabrics for 2 years ago at my last Quiltaway with Sherry!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

One more item kept from those landfills!

Terracycle is at it again!
I signed on to check my drink pouch status, and found that they are ready to start collecting CHIP BAGS!
Every week, the students in my class have snack day, where they consume a variety of Frito-Lay chip products. Now, we can upcycle these bags into something else.
While I would prefer to reduce or eliminate the need for these bags, I understand that these students are not going to give up their snacks! Thus showing them that upcycling these previously disposed of items will increase their awareness. They are very keen on giving me drink pouches and cookie wrappers so I am very sure they will be keen on giving me their chip bags!

The drink pouch brigade has been running much more smoothly as of late and I only have another 2,000 drink pouches in my studio that are awaiting their turn to be sent to Terracycle. I mentioned to my students that after Spring Break I will begin collecting bags again, but that I would only accept rinsed out bags. (I just KNOW that they have been stockpiling the pouches since December and that the pouches will be moldy and smelly! If they have been opened and rinsed, they will not have that problem!)

That way, I can continue to ship out pouches over the summer and keep up the recycling efforts I have already started!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Donors Choose helps Teachers!

As most of you know, I have been very successful with my projects that I have posted with a website called

My third project was recently fully funded, and my class will be receiving a large library of Mythology books!!

Two of my colleagues have posted projects to the site, here is one for a 4th grade class: share

I have one that is in review, as does my other colleague who teaches 5th grade. Once they are approved, I will update this blog.

In the meantime, please SPREAD THE WORD!! Anyone can donate any amount to these projects, and any amount will be greatly appreciated! Thanks!!

Posted using ShareThis

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Yes folks, it does snow in Tennessee!
These are our young pine trees, you can see that they are suffering under the weight of the snow!

This is looking towards our garage, and all you can see is trees and SNOW!

This is a view of our pond, which is NOT frozen!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tissues vs Handkerchiefs

I subscribe to these daily emails from Ideal Bite, a website that promotes itself as a 'sassier shade of green'! They do have some useful information, like the blog I had about phone books!
Today's daily tip had to do with using Recycled Facial Tissues.
I read through the information and thought it was quite useful.

However, I also realized that there is a better way!

I have been using cotton hankies for a number of months now. When I ran out of tissues, I just stopped buying more! It does take some getting use to, but I have been using men's handkerchiefs, which are bigger and can take more blows!

I also thought about the cost. My sister sells hankies in her Etsy shop 2 for $5.00! Now, given that on the Ideal bite, one box of recycled tissues was $4.00 for 96 tissues, buying one hankie for $5.00 is a deal! After all, trees are saved, and that cotton hankie will last a lot longer than one box of tissues!

Now, if you are a handy person, you can make your own hankies from cotton fabric! Go, get stitching folks! Save a tree!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Skullbone, Tennessee!

There are many unusual town names here in Tennessee; I just heard about this one!
Skullbone, Tennessee.
This is a photo of the side of the general store in Skullbone.
Skullbone, which doesn't appear on some maps now, was the site of long-ago fist-fighting competitions in which bare-knuckle boxers could only deliver blows to their opponents' heads. It was called "skullbone" fighting, and the name stuck to this unincorporated hamlet.

The sign was placed by the locals for all the tourist that comes through. Back in the day people would come in from everywhere to fist fight.