Thursday, February 28, 2013

Read Across America Madness

Or, the things we do for love. Let's not talk about what I went through tonight to get the 24th student picture for a bulletin board, after the inevitable "Hey, where's my picture?" happened today, and I found out yesterday that I'd sent my pictures to the wrong store for pick up. And then I got stuck in rush hour downtown traffic looking for the right store that the pictures were at, and picked the wrong store. Twice. For three hours [because, silly me had no idea that there's a building going up from scratch down there, blocking all kinds of roads]. Are my elephant ears for "Horton hears a Who" made for tomorrow? Did I get to practice reading "Fox in Socks"? Nope. But that kid's picture is going to be on the bulletin board. These are the days that make me think I just might fail student teaching.

Anyway, Miss Honey for the win. While I was running around not knowing where pictures were, she was tracking down cupcake carriers and extra cupcake pans that I don't already own for sneech  cupcakes, which I ended up baking in ice cream cake cones, to help cut down on clean up.

And yes. That is totally the washer and dryer in the background. Perk #687 of living in my apartment.

As part of Read Across America Day, I put together a bulletin board featuring each student in the class, Miss Honey and myself, and our favorite [children's] book[s].

 Mine, that were picture books, included Elfwyn's Saga, which my grandparents had autographed by the author, David Wisniewski, for my fifth birthday, and Slinky Malinky, by Lynley Dodd.

Bad Kitty, in all her bad forms, was banned as a choice, because everyone likes her so much.

So we took a group shot of kids "reading" behind every Bad Kitty book that Miss Honey and I possessed. 

... and our door came out super cute! The kids had so much fun making a sock for Fox! We only had a little difficulty getting the basket to stay up there in the first place. I brought socks from my own collection in to hangout for the week. There have been some great looking doors in the first floor hallway, I must say, I am a little nervous about what the results of the contest will be!
[what, me, competitive? nah...]

Monday, February 25, 2013

Goodwill FTW

The Goodwill across the river has recently instated a student discount. Score one. So aside from the fact that I've been loosing weight [safely and intentionally] and I had no pants that fit, it was a huge score number two that I found four pairs of pants on Saturday - after thinking  okay, quietly freaking out, that my wallet had been stolen [my purse was half open, what can I say?], leaving my cart unattended, driving home, finding out that really I had left my wallet sitting next to my computer the whole time, and then driving back to the GW to find my cart *exactly* where I had left it, with nothing out of place. They were just that busy. Because honestly, I avoid thrift shops like the plague on weekends because getting there is a pain, parking is a pain, there's a million people there, someone inevitably muscles their way ahead of you into the dressing room even though you were there first waiting for it for 15 minutes ... I was spoiled by growing up in a low population area. But I found a bunch of nice clothes for student teaching, and a pair of gently worn Clarks. [I may be ready to squeeze into some sixes, but I still feel like a 14.] Will be saving a trip to Macy's for another day - did not realize that the birthday card stipulated that it included an outing :)

Also, while I was there, I found 4 Duquesne tee shirts! FOUR! This was the nicest of the bunch, so home it came. Had I been student teaching at WT, Brookline, B-W, Mt. L, a handful of Catholic schools in the metro area, or [really?] of all places, Hopewell, I could have scored a tee to round out my list of accomplishments, but no such luck.  Will just have to do a web search for a thrift shop out there towards my placement, or something. 

do cats count as photo-bombers?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

waffles and burnt bacon

Happy Sunday morning! I'm noshing - and there's the chirp [it chirps when it's done] - on burnt bacon and waiting for the last of the waffles to cook. Every once in a while, if I get moving, I'll make waffles on this waffle iron. It wasn't exactly a  birthday present - the only appliance I'd really be happy with on my birthday is a screaming metallic pink Kitchenaid pro [that's the one with the ridiculous motor no one really needs] with all the extra attachments, whistles and bells. Has to be metallic pink. Red will not do. [Screaming green or turquoise or flaming metallic purple would be acceptable alternatives]. It's like picking out a car...

Waffles. So I was maybe six? Or seven? [Essentially, the age I am working with now :)] and I had this insane affinity for pancakes. And my mother hated making pancakes. But she loved me, so she did it anyway. Occasionally. My father was working in the jewellery department of a large store at the time, and it so happened that, being the awesome salesman he was, he received the bonus awards, usually on a monthly basis, and it was usually a gift certificate for the store. And around that time of year - this time of year- they had these waffle makers. And my mother hated making pancakes, and this gift certificate was burning a hole in their pockets...

But you DO NOT get a woman, of any age, an appliance for her birthday. UNLESS it's a screaming metallic pink Kitchenaid Pro with all the extra attachments, whistles and bells [Screaming metallic green or turquoise or flaming metallic purple would be acceptable alternatives] - and she's SPECIFICALLY TOLD YOU THIS, because she's tired of mixing baked goods by hand with a wooden spoon.

Moral of the story? I did not get the waffle iron for my birthday - don't ask me what I actually got, probably a My Little Pony [which I likely still have], among other things - but we did have heart shaped waffles. For breakfast. Or dinner. Anyway, there were, and have been, heart shaped waffles. What's really amazing is that this thing is still kicking. Proof that they don't make 'em like they used to.

The bacon is gone. And my waffles are cold. Bon appétit.

Friday, February 22, 2013

take a look, it's in a book.

For the record, any further references to "Miss Honey" are in regards to my cooperating teacher. This is in an effort to protect the innocent... guilty... passive bystanders... and yes, this is in reference to Miss Jenny Honey, from Matilda, by Roald Dahl. If she's reading this, and takes offence and would prefer I not mention her at all, or would prefer a different ninja name, she can text me [like now, and with a different name].  In my defense, I do mean it as a huge compliment, as Miss Honey is an awesome teacher and a child whisperer. [Also, she's the only teacher I can think of off the top of my head from literature that wasn't Jane Eyre, or someone from Hogwarts that was ancient. And Miss Honey was El. Ed.].

Badnews bears on the door - the librarian is also doing Oh the Places You'll Go, and was having kids draw books... and had some sort of contest going along with it... my genius plan is dead in the water. Miss Honey is totally keeping the OtPYG ball rolling, just in a different direction. So instead of books... hot air balloons...? Pinterest and I are going to be very good friends this weekend. And perhaps the Ellison machine downtown, since there isn't a die at school. I may even have yellow and purple paper. We have to come up with something before this Friday. Since we can't go with a physical location, we're focusing more on the subject of the book, which is more of a this is how life may turn out, and ask the students to think of goals - long or short term.

"reading can get us new places, it's true;
here are some of the places we're going to get to!"

Also, I'm now teaching spelling, and math, and science/social studies. The Hanaford grocery bag, while sweet, is not cutting it. Time to find something serious to carry everything in.  But it seems I have expensive taste - the less whistles, bells, fobs, knobs and hardware, the more expensive the bag. Why is that? Two handles, a pocket and a large interior, that's all I'm asking for. I don't want to spent $385 for it. I did find a nice Fossil, in raucous colors, on sale for under a hundred... don't know if I'll jump on it or not. I should look on eBay... there's usually something on eBay...

In the meantime, it's time to play "shuffle things around in the apartment to make room for the things from Grandpa". Like a clock that nods to the Atomic era, but with knives, forks and slotted spoons. [Yet another] Crockpot, a Calphalon saucepan [I'm in love] and a 1.5 qt. cast iron enamelled Dutch oven in candy apple red - it says "Bella" on the bottom, which is probably why the world's most impulsive shopper bought it.  If it's Italian, it is clearly and obviously superior. We must have it. (In this case, it cleans well)

hands of the calphalon

gold coast plate cover

It was also time to put up [yet another] switch plate cover. And this awesome gift basket is going to hold eggs now. Which is fabulous, because the other egg basket was too big for this spot, and now holds yarn. 

The Lyd will fight you for the couch with her bare paws.

The Lyd and I have been fighting over playing "who gets to sit on the sofa", which is sad, because there is now less space on the sofa, thanks to the addition of three matchy-matchy throw pillows; thank you Grandpa. They match the one I already had!

My other other project for the weekend includes fixing the bottom curtain on the fairytale bed that's been falling off because the rod is broken- if I can find the monster cup hooks that is. And maybe working on a tiny greenhouse, now that I have the hardware. And writing thank you notes to the class for their birthday wishes. I may need to buy more thank you cards. And for Miss Honey's understudy, that's saying something.

Time to turn off the alarm; someone is sleeping in tomorrow morning. yay sleep. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

been there, done that, bought the...

and we're back to the tee-shirt conundrum. Mostly because I shuffled some things around in the apartment in the last few days to accommodate some of Grandpa's things, and the tee-shirts resurfaced. I was looking at all of them [I needed a distraction - Grandpa has a MRSA infection now] and I realized that this thing spans more than ten years of my life; two marching bands, three theatre companies, one euro trip. But there's nothing in it representing Duquesne [I'm not buying a $10 shirt at the Duq B&N only to cut it up, but I haven't found any at Goodwill South Side] There used to be a Goodwill out towards my placement; I wonder if it's still there... if I found a tee-shirt from our school I could appliqué an apple on it.

Which reminds me [don't ask how that reminds me - stream of conciousness] we'll be celebrating  Read Across America in March, and I've been tasked with decorating our door for the celebration. And I'm going with this, at least as a theme. I'm really hoping there's a bazillion other "Cat and the Hat" doors [that's really awful of me, isn't it?] I realize it's Dr. Seuse, and Cat in the Hat is his most well known thing next to Green Eggs and Ham. It's still in in the development stage, but I'm hoping to work recycled material into it - someone has a door with Styrofoam cups that looks like a snowman, I'm fairly confidant I can pull this off. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

owl be darned.

it's been almost two years since I initially posted on this; [but a really long time ago] I discovered that a ceramics company had an owl canister that I really wanted to paint [cue the dream sequence music to travel back in time] In the last two years, they added two sizes, and a mug, and I got a set of salt-and-pepper shakers for Christmas this past year. And I realized that I never updated about it at all. The big canister, the Great Horned Owl, is cookie jar sized. The Snowy Owl holds a small bag of brown sugar. The Scopes owl is very small, and holds either hard candy/ a large bag of cough drops or matches and a lighter or what ever else I can think of in small quantity.

As I planned, the canisters turned out to be Hedwig and Pidwidgeon, and the largest owl is a Great Horned, which is something or another in the Harry Potter series. I just don't remember whose.

This really cute necklace was a present for my birthday this year [as were these pants!]

And there was this super cute owl planter that I painted, just because it was there. It's staring at me from across the room holding my sewing scissors, reminding me of something I said earlier, and someone who was staring entirely too much this morning and weirding me out [am I the only person in the world who pops out with randomness when they feel nervous?! some days I swear I must be!] Wise of me to say what I said? Likely not. But I'm highly sensitive about being stared at. Next time it happens, I just might pop out with something [polite] about my skirt being stuck in an awkward place or something, because I'm uncomfortable and I'm tired of it.

Worst picture ever; the top part is more green [seafoam], the bottom is more blue [turquoise]. It's the lighting in the picture.

Have you had enough of the owl goodness? Apparently there's earrings that match the necklace. I'm on a thusfar less than successful man - erm - owl-hunt.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

unRaveling nae

I've been working on this shawl called Nae from Ravelry, which is mostly on hold until the socks are completed.  

I bought two skeins of Cascade Yarn's Pura Alpaca in Lake Chalen Heather, thinking it would go great with this other alpaca yarn I had been gifted with for Christmas going on two years ago now. Except that I decided I didn't really like the two together, since they had slightly different weights. So I stashed the gifted yarn for later and began knitting up this shawl, about a year after buying the Cascade Yarn. 

And I discovered that I was about a skein short for the project. So I went back to the yarn shop where I bought the yarn. Only to learn that they had discontinued the color I bought, because, as it turns out, I was the last person to buy it, so they'd tossed the rest of it in the clearance bin. Super sad day. 

They offered to order it for me, but that would mean waiting for it to come in, and I was not in a waiting sort of mood. So I totally switched gears and bought a totally different yarn by the Malabrigo company. I almost went with the color 'zarzamora', just because it started with Z. But I received this piece of advice as an undergraduate wood furniture design student : go big or go home. Basically, if you have to fix something because of a flaw, a mistake, act of God, what have you, make it look like a deliberate choice. Don’t try to match because then it’s really going to look like you had to cover your tracks. When creating a patch or trying to make up a difference, don’t go for the closest color to what you’ve got because it’s going to be obvious - in that case, naturally occurring differences in wood species, but with yarn, it's a dye lot. Go big or go home. Change gears. Go with a different wood species that's a completely different color. Patch the hole where the router slipped up and ripped a gaping hole in the side of your blonde maple box with dark brown walnut. [someday I'll get a picture of that box up here...]

So I had a yarn problem. I had enough of the Cascade to bookend the project with the Lake Chalen color, but I needed to throw something in the middle to make it the right size. I picked out zarzamora and candombe, but without more than a swatch of the yarn I was using, I wasn't sure how I felt about it for the whole of the project. The great folks at Natural Stitches suggested, since I knew I needed the two skeins for the project, to buy the Malabrigo in the zarzamora and the candombe, and then return which ever color I didn't want as an exchange for the color I did. When I dug the project out, in it's half knitted glory, I realized what I had figured out already at the store: the zarzamora [it means 'blackberry'], while it had the perk of a great name going for it, wasn't doing it for me - it wasn't going big. The green in it wasn't quite right or something. 


So I went with the bolder of the two. Which, in this image on the right, really doesn't look like much of a difference. On the left, you can see that there is a little more brown, blue and gold in this colorway. It's a total departure from the Cascade Alpaca. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

whoooooooooo will be my Valentine?

"OWL be your Valentine." We had our party today, instead of yesterday [??] Thank God for the Ellison machine. The wings of the owl held onto the pencil, and the pouch was made from the gift card holder die, with part of the resulting shape cut off. I made these Valentines for my students - everyone got a pencil with a cap eraser and, tucked into the back of the packet, a wedge eraser. Which, frankly, they need more than the pencil.

I may live to regret giving them wedge erasers... but the owls are cute. There won't be paper owls flying around the classroom, anyway...

Yesterday, we didn't have our Valentine's Day party, unlike 99.9% of schools in America. But there was lots of cookie cake. For two very special Queen of the 1st Grade Universe on-the-same-day-as-Valentines-day-and-each-other birthdays [wild coincidence, no?]. A huge thank you to the homeroom mom who spearheaded that [and tried to keep it a secret from us].

And, because I'm that kind of person, I bribed the Lyd into signing a Valentine for a friend, and signing for their cats, too. (The front of the card has a cross eyed cat. So, why not?) The Lyd has such a hard life.

monoprint hearts for your sweeties

 Coinciding with a math lesson on symmetry, on Valentine's Day. I mean, how does it get better than that?

 Tempra paint, oak tag half hearts, paint bushes, construction paper, crayons.
Only trouble was that the paint dried very quickly and some of the students found themselves with a monoprint that was less than desirable - also, avoid words, like our friend in the top left.  And a final word, for the sake of expediency, consider pre-picking the color of the paper and pre tracing the hearts. If there's time to kill, make them do it. If time will likely be an issue, mandatorily hand them a pretraced half shape and say "paint inside the lines". In this case, it doesn't stifle their creativity.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

death and other friends

If you haven't figured out already that I love words, I'm going to tell you that I blew the reading scores on the SAT, the PRAXIS 1 and the PRAXIS Fundamental Subjects: Content Knowledge out of the water. But I have no words.

My grandfather is dying; it was rather unexpected. He will tell you this in the baldest of terms. And then, when you ask him if you can have a picture with him, and sit beside him in his bed, will put bunny ears behind his head, because he does not have the strength to reach yours. And you genuinely laugh, smile for the camera, and put bunny ears behind your head as well. 

He, my mother and father, usually pull no punches about anything, but because I'm student teaching right now and there is a lot of work to be done, and because I'm being treated for debilitating migraines, they have been trying to spare me the brunt of this storm so that I may finish well. If I were to pin point the beginning of the decline in my memory, it would be before Thanksgiving, when my friends invited myself and my family to have dinner with them. My grandfather, while pleased with the invitation, was feeling under the weather, and declined the four hour round trip drive. Four days after the holiday, he broke his hip. He flew through the surgery without any complications and managed rehab tasks with alacrity. But he still wasn't feeling better;at Christmas, his symptoms were chalked up to him being an elderly man. Two weeks ago he collapsed in his apartment, and he was finally diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. Radiation therapy would kill him. The tumor cannot be removed because it has invaded his bladder, and the 10 hour surgery to remove everything would also kill him. Of course, had he had regular screenings for the last ten years, this would have been caught sooner [go get a colonoscopy!!!]

He has asked for no heroic measures. He's 86, he says. What are they going to do?

We moved him into a long-term care facility, where he will receive hospice care. We're making him comfortable. We're turning the room he has now into home. We're cleaning out his old apartment.

I have no words. It was different when his wife died. They were in Florida. We couldn't be there. I know nothing about where grandma died, what their house looked like, no sights, no smells, nothing tangible to grab onto. I feel a strange disconnect when I think about it. I feel a strange sense of surrealism when I packed the bags of groceries I'd just pulled out of his cupboards into my car, along with the towels that had just been in his linen closet, and the nesting tables that had, just this Christmas, held mugs of tea and some really unusual candy whose origins were questionable. He'd given me groceries at that visit before - his way of saying "I love you". But it was different this time, clearing everything out and saying not to him, but my mother "Yeah, I'll eat that. But not that." [I draw the line at the tinned octopus]. Listening to my mother say, "I just put the liner paper in here, maybe three weeks ago. Maybe grandpa will want his mug?"

And I have to look at the mug, the one that's bone china that I bought for him when I went to England, that says  "His Lordship" and has pastel drawing of an English manor on it, and say, "Well, if he doesn't, I'd like my brother to have it." Because I'd meant to get him one while I was there, too, but I only saw the one.

When I go home next, I'll be sleeping on the mattress that was on his bed, since mine is old and well past it's prime. This perhaps, is the the strangest, but perhaps the most ... I have no word. I will have part of his bed because we're selling the frame. His bed, and his dresser, they will be mine. It is the furniture that imparts the feeling of permanence.

But he's still alive. And we're breaking up his home. My brother and I are hauling his tv to his room in the care facility and then running back to the apartment and spending two hours wrestling the stand into a Nissan Sentra, before we finally wedge it into the trunk and bungee it down to the bumper and the trunk door. And Grandpa decides he doesn't want the mug, even though it's become his favorite, because the china is thin, making the mug lighter than the others he has, making it easier for him to hold and use. "It's just one more thing," Grandpa says. Our light traveler. When we left from visiting and moving the t.v. that day, I handed the mug to my brother.

Friday, February 8, 2013

the secret life of pasta butterflies

Yes, it's possible to do a lesson about the life cycle of a butterfly without actually buying butterflies. Not that I wouldn't have loved to do that, but no room, no time, wrong time of year. 

If you have the resources, make a Power Point, or a Prezi. Or find and edit a Smartboard lesson. Or find a Prezi. Or find several really good books about butterflies - they'll love a "true/false" book, with facts like, "True or False, can butterflies taste their food with their feet?" [true fact].

And if you're in the first grade, make a life cycle. On a paper plate. 


Orzo for your egg. Some kind of rotini for your larva/caterpillar. Mini shell pasta for the chrysalis/pupa. And Farfalle. Which, in Italian, literally means "butterfly". So you're not eating "bow-tie" pasta, you're eating "butterfly" pasta. 

And if you're the student teacher in charge, pre-mark the paper plates with Sharpie quarters. Trust me. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

double lace rib stitch socks

lest I forget my sock pattern, I'm actually going to write it out here in bits and pieces.


4 dpn size [?] needles; they're smallish. I'm guessing they're about size 4 or 5 US. I have no idea any more, I lost the needle gauge.
Paton's Kroy sock yarn [or other fingering weight yarn] solid color of choice. [I'm using Gentry Grey]

Helpful terms
k- knit
p - purl
yo - yarn over [I make mine such that it's a snug loop with an x under the bottom of the needle - probably a horrible explanation, I know, and probably not what I should be doing]K2tog tbl - knit 2 together through back loop
yfrn - yarn front around the needle  - nice video explanation for clarification

the cuff - 

picot cast on, with multiples of 3. 
cast on 3 stitches; bind off the last two as per picot cast on instructions. pick up the center bound off stitch of the picot as you go, for a total of 56 stitches. join the ends [I cast on 60.]

  • Row 1 (Right Side): *p1, yo, K2tog tbl, p1, k2; rep from * to end
  • Row 2: *p1, k2; rep * to end
  • Row 3: *P1, K2tog, yfrn, p1, k2; rep from * to end
  • Row 4: *p1, k2; rep * to end
work in DLRS until desired length of sock cuff is met. 

begin heel flap. 

at beginning of new row, divide stitches evenly onto two needles - 30 on each needle. 1st row is a right side row. Working in stockinet, row 1 is knitwise; row 2 is purlwise. Work in this manner until heel flap is desired length. 

turning the heel

begin shaping with a wrong side row
R1 [wrong side]: p17, p2tog, p1, turn [there will be left over stitches]
R2 [right side]: s1, k7, s1, k1, psso, k1, turn.
R3: s1, p8, p2tog, p1, turn
R4: s1, k9, s1, k1, psso, k1, turn
R5: s1, p10, p2tog, p1, turn
R6: s1, k11, s1, k1, psso, k1, turn
R7: s1, p12, p2tog, p1, turn
R8: s1, k13, s1, k1, psso, k1, turn
R9: s1, p14, p2tog, p1, turn
R10: s1, k15, s1, k1, psso, k1 [20 sts]

working the instep gussett

with right side facing, pick up 14 sts along the side of the heel flap. Knit 15 of the 30 stitches on the other needle that we've been ignoring until now. Knit the other 15 and then pick up 14 stitches down the other side of the heel flap on the same needle as the 15 stitches. There should be 3 needles; 1 along the bottom [the heel], two each holding 29 sts. Should form a triangle. Knitting should be in a counter clockwise motion. 

First row of the instep decrease:
knit across the heel [needle 1], and along the second needle. 
on the 3rd needle,* K to last 3 sts; k2tog, K1. 
needle 1: knit across
needle 2: k1, s1, k1, psso, knit to end. *
this is a round 1
round 2: knit.
repeat rounds 1 and 2 until there are 60 sts.[or in my case, 54. because i can't count.]

... and that's as far as I've gotten with these socks so far.