Friday, April 30, 2010

Our Toaster

Many years ago, when Vince had first purchased his dome shaped home in Clarksville, I sent him a house warming present which included this toaster oven and several packages of English Muffins (One of his favorite food items).

Earlier today, after using and unplugging the item, Vince commented that the toaster has been with us a long time. Based on my calculations, the toaster has been our companion for for 13.5 years.

It is a great toaster and we use it for many small meals, not just toast!

My blog was inspired today by this blog: Saying No to New I found that Nicole's comments mirrored my own thoughts on purchasing new items. I hope that our trusty toaster lasts longer as I dread searching through GoodWill or Gleaners for another one!

It is hard to break the cycle of buying. It is hard to resist the pull of new items and more stuff. Stuff is part of our lives.

We do need to rethink our purchases. Every one of them. There are many times that buying used is a viable option. It does take more work, however.

To shop at a thrift store, for example, means that I may not find exactly what I am looking for the first time. That usually means that I will rethink my purchase and more times than not, I realize I do not need what I was looking for.

Since I also do not like to throw usable items away, there are many times that I have what I need right here in the house.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

We are in the INDEPENDENT!

Middle school class earns cash for trash.
Colette Carrabba’s sixth-grade class is earning cash for their school by collecting items otherwise thought of as trash – used drink pouches, candy wrappers, and more. Many of the products are sent to TerraCycle, a company who ‘upcycles’ the items, making reusable items and sending money back to the school." rel="lightbox[parent7154000]">

Photo by Holly Roeder, Independent
Colette Carrabba’s sixth-grade class is earning cash for their school by collecting items otherwise thought of as trash – used drink pouches, candy wrappers, and more. Many of the products are sent to TerraCycle, a company who ‘upcycles’ the items, making reusable items and sending money back to the school.
With hundreds of students eating lunch every day, sixth-grade teacher Colette Carrabba of Chester County Middle School used to see a lot of used drink pouches, cookie wrappers and chips bags get thrown away. Now the school earns two cents for every one of those wrappers or pouches Carrabba and her students collect and return to a company, TerraCycle, who uses their non-recyclable waste to make affordable, eco-friendly products. The enthusiastic students at Chester County Middle have diverted over 12,000 pieces of waste from the landfill and earned nearly $250 for their school.

“I believe that it is important to teach the younger members of our society the importance of reducing our waste, reusing everything we can and recycling what is left over. With TerraCycle as my classroom partner, my students have fun collecting trash and are learning why it is important to keep these items out of our landfills,” said Colette about her experience with the program. “I love that TerraCycle has partnered up with public schools to teach about the importance of recycling and reducing our trash. Our children need to learn this lesson from every possible perspective.”

Carrabba’s class collects chip bags, cookie and candy wrappers, pens, markers, glue sticks, diaper packages, Lunchable boxes, tape dispensers, cereal bags, and energy bar wrappers, as well as many other recyclables in addition to the TerraCycle ‘upcycling’ items. The project has proved very successful largely due to her students’ involvement.

“The earth isn’t going to get crowded up with junk, so we’ll be able to live longer on it,” explained student Sarah Sells.

“I don’t like the idea of living in trash,” added Aspen Gray.

Malcolm Poe stressed that recycling helps the community, and was supported by Hannah Richardson, who pointed to financial gains for the community as a result of recycling.

The students further explained that trash leads to pollution, which kills trees, which are vital for our survival.

Chester County Middle School is part of a free nationwide program called the ‘Brigades’ that pays schools and non-profits to collect non-recyclable waste that would otherwise go to the landfill. Now the programs are coming full circle back to Henderson through an exciting partnership with local Walmart locations.

TerraCycle uses waste material to make a wide range of products like Seed Starter kits made from yogurt cups and pencil cases made from drink pouches, which will be sold for the first time in honor of the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day this month.

In fact, for a limited time Walmart is selling the widest range of TerraCycle’s ‘Upcycled’ products ever. For the month of April, TerraCycle’s products will be sold right next to original items, so tote bags made from Frito-Lay wrappers will be sold with bags of Frito-Lay chips and backpacks made from Capri Sun drink pouches will be sold next to boxes of the popular juice! This will help educate consumers about resource conservation and drive participation in TerraCycle’s program.

Nationwide, over 50,000 schools and community groups have signed up to help collect over 25 million used pieces of packaging. Through the TerraCycle Brigades school and non-profits will earn close to one million dollars this year!

Any interested organizations can learn more or sign up for free today at

Monday, April 19, 2010

Terracycle in the Classroom

Our class received an exciting surprise visit from a reporter from the Chester County Independent Newspaper.

Terracycle had apparently sent a press release to the Independent and this press release had my name on it. Being the good reporters that they are, they contacted me to find out more about how Terracycle impacts our classroom.

The students were very excited to talk to a reporter and to talk about what they collect for Terracycle and how recycling impacts their classroom, their community and their world.

In honor of the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day, Terracycle has put their new products in Walmarts across the United States for the month of April.

So, go and check out the Terracycle products at your local Walmart.

And those of you who are local to Henderson, check out my class in the Independent this week!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Spring Break Day Seven

Ah, slept in again until 6:30! What ever will I do when I have to return to work on Monday?

Spent the morning in my studio, cutting batting and basting quilts. I also finished stitching the baby bibs and turned them right side out.

Additionally, I stitched the 3 small ribbon blankets that will be in my Etsy Store!

I picked up lunch for mom and I and spent the afternoon with Mom, playing Scrabble and celebrating Lauren's departure. Lauren is a student who is receiving her degree and did a practicum at Southern Oaks. She is finished now and will be getting married next weekend. So the folks threw her a small party! We had cake and punch and sang songs. It was fun.

After leaving Southern Oaks, I traveled to Jackson to pick up markers for a project we are doing in school after TCAPs. I had some recycling credit at Office Depot, so I went there to buy my new markers.

Upon arrival home, I got to work on the garden. Yesterday it was tilled and composted and organized into nice rows. Today I put in markers to remember where plants are to reside in the future and I put some of the seedlings in. Each yellow marker is made from cut up foam trays.

You cannot see the seedlings well, but I have corn, cucumbers, beans, and zucchini planted. The potatoes are in as well (but they are completely underground!!)

That was enough gardening fun for me, so I watered them, and watered the seedlings still in the greenhouse and called it a day.

Tomorrow I will get the soaker hoses in place and plant marigold seeds.

Now for a nice cool shower!

Spring Break Day Six

Day Six---I know it was yesterday, but I was in such pain yesterday evening, that I just went to bed with the heating pad!

It started out well, sleeping in until 7:00!!!

Then I spent the day in the studio, working on the Green String quilt. I finished the top and the needed a little TLC to flatten out, working with those diamonds and bias edges is not an area that I excel in. So, I had to re-do some seams! But it looks good now! (Photos will show up in the Day Seven blog later today!)

I had some left over batting pieces, so I pinned several baby bibs that are destined for my Etsy Store. The store is empty right now, so I am working on some new additions.

I also COUNTED MY STASH! I am embarrassed to say that it is right back to where it was when I initially counted my stash! ACK! I did not count any of the backings or fabrics that are designated for the following quilts (as they are in the basting/quilting stage of completion):

Green String quilt
I Spy quilt
Pumpkin Floral string quilt
Patriotic Stack & Whack quilt
Prairie Schooler quilt
Bright Girl quilt

In the afternoon, Vince tilled the garden, and I went and worked with the soil...I worked in compost and pulled out roots and weeds. I straightened the rows and that is when I gave in. My lower back was tighter than it has ever been and I could not straighten up well. I figured it was a good time to revisit my garden plan.

I have been researching various ways to improve my garden for this year, and will be planting certain plants to protect others....keeping certain critters out of the corn! I also have a border of lovely marigolds to help with pests and critters. Since part of my garden does not get full sun I have to consider which plants will tolerate partial sun. Also, since my garden still slopes a bit, I have to consider which plants will tolerate more water!

I think I have a plan now!! But by the time I had finished that and we ate a late dinner, I was finished! I heated up the heating pad and went to bed with a good book.

Fortunately this morning, I awoke feeling good!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Spring Break Day Five

This morning was spent with my dear friends Caroline and Deb. We traveled to Millington, to the Naval Support facility there. As military folk, I can get on base to shop at the commissary, which usually has good prices on groceries.

More importantly, we look at it as a day out. We love each other's company and the ride gives us time to catch up with each other. The ride is filled with laughter!

The only slightly upsetting aspect was that I found out that my military ID card had expired! Now Vince and I need to find time to travel to Millington during a weekday so that I can obtain a new card. I guess that will be a June activity!

I was also able to stop in Oakland to drop my quilts off to Christine Ballard.
She will creatively and beautifully quilt my Pieces of the Past and Snow Crazy quilts. I do not have a delivery date, but I know I will get them back sometime this summer so that I can finish those two this year! I hope that by the time she has these two quilted, I will have at least 2 other tops to give her for quilting!

When we arrived back home after our adventure, I was amazed that I had the entire afternoon ahead of me! I spent part of it digging the compost out of the bin to spread on the new garden area. Vince will (hopefully) till the garden tomorrow so that I can get the seedlings in the ground soon!

I spent a little time working on the Green String quilt--I have the rows pinned together into a top and will stitch them together in the morning. Then I can get the borders on it and declare the top finished.

After dinner, I barely beat Vince at Scrabble (689 to 680). Our games are not always that it was nice to have a challenging game tonight! We play Super Scrabble, which has a larger game board and twice the tiles. It is a lot more fun and a lot more challenging to play!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Spring Break Day Four

The Gleaners” by Jean-Fran├žois Millet

To glean is to gather grain left behind by reapers or to gather bit by bit.

This morning I awoke with the dawn to begin yet another day of my spring break! I started with my studio, working on the Green String quilt. I laid the pieces out and stitched them into rows, then became distracted.

I pulled out the white fabric that I plan to use in the Mustang quilt and then paged through all of my DMC flosses to find a red that I liked. Then I washed both the fabric and the thread, to determine if the red would bleed onto the white. (Many hours later I checked the fabric and the thread, and there was no red on the white!) Then I sat and used my marker to outline the line drawings of the Mustang. I also determined the size of the white blocks that I will need to use.
The quilt design is similar to the Snow Crazy quilt. I am embroidering pictures of my Mustang onto white squares. The crazy quilt blocks will be different red fabrics.

After an hour and a half of quilt fun, it was time to leave for the Gleaner's House. I loaded up my vehicle with two boxes of paper and an 8' x 10' area rug that I was giving to a freecycler.

I headed downtown to Gleaners, first stopping at the bank to cash a check I have had since February! I also stopped at the City Drug store to make a copy of a photo of my father (the one where he is standing by the Chickaloon Bridge in Alaska) and pick up a package of razor blades (to remove the expired military stickers from my windshield).

At Gleaner's we sorted, cleaned and priced the goodies that local folks donate to the thrift store. It is always a real experience! I love that we get to shop there as well! I brought home a 24" tall Elmo doll for the puppies!

Lunch with friends was at Jack's, a local fast food eatery that is actually better than McDonald's or Burger King!

The rest of my afternoon was spent giving a rug to a freecycler (Yay! One more item out of my house!), getting my hair color touched up and visiting my Mom. I also made some time to piece together the rows on the Green String quilt, that was a bit of a challenge. Matching seams on diamond shaped pieces takes some time. They are finally all pinned and some are sewn together. The rest is a task for another Spring Break day!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Spring Break Day Three

AH! I slept in this morning! I woke up to the sounds of Narnia barking outside my window. It was about 5:45.

I spent the day visiting my friend Lisa in Clarksville, TN. I had a chance to see the Wickham Statues! There had been an exhibit at the Clarksville-Montgomery County Museum a number of years ago ( I am not sure if it was while I lived in Clarksville, or afterwards!) and since then I have wanted to go. We were a bit confused when we arrived there...all those twisty turny Tennessee back roads! We did find several statues, and the Wickham cemetery.

When I returned home, I studied the website a bit further and concluded that we came upon the middle of the displays of statues. If we had turned around and headed the opposite direction, then we would have seen the ones we missed! Ah well, that will be an excursion for the next visit!

While in Clarksville, I also attempted to find fabrics to coordinate with my focus fabric for the June Quiltaway in Pennsylvania. No luck. The Hancocks in Clarksville was really low on cotton fabrics. In fact it was downright depressing! Since the quilt store in Clarksville was closed today, I had no other options!!

Lisa and I headed over to Books-a-million for some light reading and coffee.

Then we headed back to Lisa's house so that I could pack up the trash she had been saving for me---all that Terracycle stuff! and I headed home.

All in all, a fun day with a dear friend!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Spring Break Day Two

Since Vince is working days this week, I am up by the time he leaves the house (5:30 or so). Today was no different!

So, since I was up earlier than I planned, I figured I could spend time in the studio! I worked further on the Green String Quilt and put borders on the I Spy quilt (yes, I know it is not the same quilt I was working on yesterday!). Here is what I accomplished on the Green String Quilt...I cut and sewed the background diamonds. I made a few mistakes along the way before I got them the way I I did not work much on this quilt today.

The I Spy quilt is for a friend who is having a baby in June. It is all ready to go and I have the backing fabric in the washer as I type this!
Then I went to church and Sunday school. I had lunch with my dear friend Caroline at our favorite local Mexican restaurant. We are going to have a yard sale together with some other folks in June! YAY!! I love yard sales...Now I get to clean out the house and price items and then get rid of them!

I spent some time at Gleaner's House Thrift Store before visiting Mom. At Gleaner's I scored a great 2" 3 ring binder, and some letter and number tiles. The tiles sort of look like oversized Scrabble tiles. I believe I can create a station activity with those! I also picked up a broken keyboard (for that as yet unknown craft idea!).

My visit with Mom was interesting...she had previously asked me to bring her a Catholic bible as the one she had was not a Catholic one. So, I brought her my parent's bible and she spent our visit paging through the bible, making comments about snippets of sentences she read. At least she was reading the bible!

I stopped by my classroom on the way home to pick up a box of used paper (for Inez's grandson's baseball fundraiser), the box of chip bags I need to send to Terracycle, and my large dry erase eraser.

I also gassed up the truck and washed it!

Upon arrival home, I sorted through the stuff in my truck and loaded up the 3.5 boxes of fabric I am bringing to Diana tomorrow. I also collected all of the newspapers around the house and from the recycling bin to bring to Lisa tomorrow (for the birds!) Then I collected up the loose 2-liter plastic soda bottles that had escaped the plastic bag they were in! I boxed the bottles as they will be used at the end of the school year for the 6th grade end of year water fight. (At least if it is still scheduled to occur!)

When I came back inside, I emailed Chris about dropping off two quilts on Wednesday, and then proceeded to my studio so that I could iron the backings and make sure I had batting. I have a piece for the Snow Crazy Quilt but need to buy batting for the Pieces of the Past quilt. One out of two is not bad! My last post on these two quilts was back in June of last year!

Here are the finished tops for Snow Crazy, this is almost a full sized quilt.
And here is Pieces of the Past, this one is a king sized quilt.

Now I am finished for the day. It is dinner on my own (Vince had a late flight), and then off to bed to rest up for my Clarksville trip tomorrow!

Terracycle Products hit the stores!

Most of you know that I am a huge supporter of Terracycle. I collect items for them to upcycle into new and exciting products. They in turn help keep these non-biodegradable items out of our landfills and help support education.

They have recently opened a pop-up shop in New York's Port Authority which features a number of really cool items from Terracycle and several other unique vendors.

Terracycle has also put many new products in Walmart stores for the month of April. While I know that some people will not shop at Walmart, I do agree that it is a good idea for Terracycle to team up with them to promote their products. A LOT of people go into Walmart and A LOT of people shop there. This is an excellent way to get their products seen an a mass market level.

I have actually considered going into Walmart to see what the products look like as there are no other stores here in my corner of Tennessee that carry Terracycle products. These new products are available nationwide at Walmart stores for the month of April in honor of Earth Day's 40th Anniversary.

So, check out the new Terracycle products, visit Walmart to see them in person or shop on-line at:

Spring Break Day One

One my first day of Spring Break I woke up at the same time I usually do. So much for sleeping in!

So, I decided I should make the best of it and stay busy.

I started with the laundry! Then cleaned up the kitchen, scrubbing the counters and clearing off all the clutter that accumulates there. I did manage to finish all of the laundry, get it folded and put away! (normally the laundry sits in the basket for a week--folded of course--but not put away!)

Then I wandered into my studio where I am working on two quilts simultaneously. I have one that I am making for a friend that needs to be finished before the end of school. I finished all of the string pieced diamonds using only scraps of fabric that I had in my stash. The "Green Scrap" box is now EMPTY! I just need to find a background fabric that compliments all that green! Here are my diamonds:

This is a diagram of the pattern I am working from for this quilt:

The other quilt is a neat quilt using nine-patch blocks. The blocks are each 3" square. A few years ago, when I still belonged to the Jackson Guild, I joined a block exchange and then realized I would NEVER have the time to complete the required blocks each month, so I resigned. Of course I had a bunch of nine-patch blocks already sewn so I did need to find a quilt to use them in! Fortunately, I found one I loved and saved the pattern with the blocks. Well, it is one of the quilts on my list to complete this summer so I started making some additional blocks now. I finished another 45 blocks yesterday and cut a few more. I need a total of 148 nine patch blocks. I need to search the stash for a background fabric for that one as well. Here are some of the nine patch blocks with the picture of the Skyward Nines pattern I am working from. Since so many of my blocks have blue in them, I am thinking of either a gold or gray background.

I also responded to a freecycle request for fabric! Last year someone gifted me a ton of cotton fabric scraps that I washed and sorted and then stored. I used a little of it but most of it is still sitting in boxes in my studio, getting in the way. I looked at this ad as a sign that I should part with some of this fabric so that it can be used! I now have 3.5 boxes of fabric on the couch waiting for me to deliver it on Monday. (I guess that counts as a stash reduction!)

Of course my dogs and I wandered down to the pond to feed the fish and turtles. We also walked through our 'orchard' and noted that all of our trees have leaves and some have flowers! It looks like we did a good job with the initial planting! YAY for fruit!

That was my day one!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Upcycling at its best!

I wanted to share our latest upcycled project!

This will be our second year with a vegetable garden and because it is going to be larger than last year's garden, I wanted Vince to build me a small greenhouse to get the seedlings started in.

So using concrete blocks that we removed from our driveway's edge and one of the skylights we removed from the house, Vince created my greenhouse:

Inside the greenhouse is more evidence of reuse going on: all of my little veggies are growing in old egg cartons:

As you can see, I have had some success with the little green darlings!

Here are my cucumbers, corn and beans:

Here are some tomatoes, broccoli and cauliflower!

I encountered a small issue with watering the babies. I do not own a watering can and pouring water from a jar or pitcher put out too strong of a stream of water for the babies. So, using our stash of non-recyclable stuff, Vince created my very own watering container:

He drilled a series of holes in the lid so that the water sprinkles out on my little green babies!

I hope we can get the garden tilled this week as I am on Spring Break and it would be a great time to get these darlings in the ground.

I also have marigolds growing in abundance in several pots around the house so that I can keep some of the critters at bay!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Quilt Bling!

Cat and Sherry had the opportunity to spend the weekend in Lancaster at the American Quilt Show. They took great photos of the quilts on display there and I am sure that they were very motivated and inspired by what they saw. Of course the vendors are always a favorite place to spend money!

I was thrilled today to receive an envelope containing my very own QUILT BLING! I love that Cat and Sherry thought of me on their quilting weekend!! I plan to wear my bling when I go to the AQS show in Paducah Kentucky at the end of April! YAY!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Resolutions: March Update

March's update on my Resolutions

1. Cease drinking soda. Hmmm..No soda this month! I do think about Pepsi from time to time, but have not purchased any single serve bottles (thus one less plastic item) and have not consumed any from what Vince purchases! Nor have I caved in and taken my reusable cup into the Shell station to fill up at the soda dispenser! I may have achieved success here!

2. Do not purchase new clothes for one year. Nothing here. I did purchase a skirt at the thrift store. It is new, so would that qualify as buying something new.?? I did buy it at a thrift store! So, technically it is a second hand item.

3. Save the savings. Huh. No grocery shopping trip this month. My shopping trips were small, and nothing saved! We are actually planning our shopping trip for tomorrow morning.

4. Reduce my personal belongings. Did well here. I gave my rubber duck collection to a friend of mine who is going to Nicaragua on a mission trip. She also received my mini-beanie baby collection that I have not used (although I did try to find a school use for them!) I also freecycled a plastic water bottle with an insulated sleeve, and a candy thermometer (it was an extra one!)

I also freecycled two loads of styrofoam packing peanuts and bubble wrap.

5. Read at least 3 books to improve my teaching skills.
URK. I have not moved along on this resolution at all this month. I did read several novels, but nothing that required much thought.

6. Keep my tax records more organized for 2010. Things are filling in nicely here. We even have our 2009 taxes filed and the check ready for mailing. (Yes, we owe money again this year!) I did put our receipts from the accountant into the 2010 file.

7. Walk 10,000 steps each day. I wear the pedometer every day that I am not home. I have been wearing it around the house more. I am still averaging 7,000 steps a day. I took a walk with the puppies the other day. We walked through the woods...up and down small hills....I am sorry to say I was tired when we finished! I also planted the flower bulbs I purchased last year.

8. Reduce my fabric stash. Hmm..after looking at last month's status in this category, I am disappointed to see I have not sewn a stitch since them! Perhaps the illness I contracted has affected me more than I thought!
I did go through my scraps and boxed them up and posted them on freecycle. No takers as of yet.
I also acquired more fabric! The lady who took the styrofoam pieces gifted me a huge bag of fabric in exchange! YAY for fabric!!
Oh wait. I am supposed to REDUCE MY STASH! Guess I did not meet my goal this month! I can say that in April I will again increase my fabric acquisitions....the Paducah quilt show is fast approaching and I am headed up that way to gain inspiration. I also plan to purchase some fabric to finish the mystery quilt fabric requirements for my June Quiltaway.

9. Make time for ME! Ha. This month, with being sick, I had a lot of 'me time' to rest and read.

10. Blog about these resolutions every month. DONE!