Friday, August 30, 2013

Who to blame.......Bonnie? Or Husband?

This past week, there truly has only been one thing on my mind:
6AM until 10PM -- all day planning, school prepping, school fretting, school meetings, school potlucks, ....... you name it!  If it relates to school.... it's been my life for 5 days straight!
Thank GOODNESS Paul's "off-days" fell this week.  Life would have been much more hectic if they hadn't.  

But now, after spending a final (non-required) few hours at school this morning.....
I feel CALM!  Most of my energy has been dedicated to the updated AP-Statistics vision for the school year, and I feel ready!  ((At least for Day #1)  LOL.

So, at noon, Paul called me to see if I wanted to ride along with him to pick up pig food at a town 20 miles away.  
You Bet'cha!  Cass ended her volleyball practice at noon, I wrapped up a few last minute things for Tuesday's First Day, and we headed out.  {{Of course, I should mention that I read the "Staff Handbook" on the way down to the feed store, but then, I was DONE!}}  I zipped the school bag shut.  And we chatted.

And we stopped for ice cream "for lunch" on the way back.

And we stopped at a garage sale.......

Having NO intentions of really buying anything, we just "looked."  It was a "Paul-style" yard sale;  antiques, carpentry... it was at a huge farm, afterall.

And then.....

"Hey Amy, aren't those sewing machine cases?"

NOW, before I go any further....
I AM NOT starting a collection!  Nope.  Not an interest.

BUT, when each was only priced at $4.00......
come ON!  Who WOULDN'T pass 'em up?!?!!?!?  Even if they don't work....they'll be LOVELY decorations!!!!!!

Machine #1....

Machine #2:  (HEAVY!!!!)

I have done ZERO research so far.  My first stop was to update the blog when we arrived home.  So, if you have info you'd like to share, Super!  I doubt they run.  I doubt they have all "working" pieces.  But.....that black one is just PURDY!!!!!!

Shortly after turning onto our road, Paul says...."Ya know, we should really stop there at least once."

We have lived at our house for almost 10 years now, and just half a mile down the road is a "Homestead Crafts" .....  It's a renovated ol' barn, nothing much to look at from the outside.  I've always thought "yeah, I should stop just to see what they have...." but it simply hasn't happened.

So we stopped.


This is truly one of those "it's not much to look at from the outside, but the inside....WOW!" kinda dealios!  Both Paul and I took one step inside and said........WOW.....with our jaw dropping to the floor.

It is FILLLLLLED with crafts! Ceramics, sewing, quilting, crochet, knitting, woodwork, cement-moldings, knickknacks, bead work,  ..... well...... I can't even list it all!
Curious??  Homestead Crafts online, and the website really doesn't do the place justice!  I will definitely be stopping back there sometime soon!

So now.....
I'm going to have "me" time.
First, do some sewing machine research.
Then, do some sewing machine dusting, maintenance, and testing.


This box has been waiting patiently since Wednesday for me to dig into!

My collection of scarves has grown with some time dedicated to them last week.  I mass ordered the Green/Gold team spirit yarn in order to whip up some more for the Fall craft shows coming up soon -- MIL is asking for me to "help out any way I can."  
Duh----let's see if GO PACKERS scarves will sell.  If not-----CHRISTMAS PRESENTS!! :)

School work will return, but I really think I'm "good" until Monday.

Then of course.....
the garden is getting red with tomatoes, and green with cucumbers and beans.  But for now...... I think that can wait until tomorrow.

Happy Friday everyone!  

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The transition - lofty goals

The transition is upon me.  'Tis time to start moving into school-mode and away from summer-mode, even IF the garden hasn't cooperated very much with me due to the late Spring this year.  

The beans are JUST starting to produce;  I can predict needing to pick and preserve them on Wednesday; the very day I need to head back full-time to school.  *sigh*.  The tomatoes are just starting to turn; they will easily need another 2 weeks, I think.  The cucumbers are in full swing.  The peas are done.  The corn -- well, there's a small story there, but I think another week is needed for the 6 rows of the "good stuff" to be ready.  A different 6 rows we planted has been ready a few days ago, but..... we be thinkin' it's not that great :(  The seed is called "Northern Sweet", but..... it ain't very sweet, folks!  We are actually wondering if it's 'field corn.'  SO, we're leaving those rows alone, and lettin' 'em dry up.  The plan:  give it to the chickens once it dries.  Potatoes and onions are always Paul's babies, and so I'll let him plan his schedule there. I think that's about it.  We have carrots and peppers and a few other odds-n-ends, but we mainly use them to make vegetable juice with the tomatoes.

Therefore, since the garden hasn't needed me daily, and .....
... after seeing my AP-Statistics scores from my students' May tests.....
it's clear I need to put some time into some curriculum!  The scores are not good.  And, I am taking those scores heavily to heart.  Were they really that under-prepared???  The more and more I think about the whole situation (which I have done LOTS of the last couple of nights when I should have been sleeping), I end up having more questions that answers.

I have researched updated materials;  truthfully, the materials I currently have are not extremely teacher-friendly -- I don't even have a teacher's manual!  They were handed over to me when I took over teaching plain-'ol statistics three years ago having gone untouched and unused since 1999, and I kept them last year for my first year of AP-Statistics.  The updated version looks AMAZING with tips and tricks to help students overcome common errors.  etc, etc, etc.  It seems that I have support from the administration, so tomorrow, my first task will be to contact the Sales Rep to get the ball rolling.  Meanwhile, KNOWING that I'll need to focus MOST of my time this school-year on AP-Statistics, I wanted to get as much curriculum mapping done as possible in my other courses, Math 7Reg, Math 7Adv, Math 8, and Algebra 8.  Eight hours Friday, 12 hours yesterday.... and I have three more units of Math 8 to go, and all of Algebra 8 (ALSO a new text resource this year!).  

Friday night was the worst night I've had in a long time, having just found out the AP test scores that afternoon.  The anxiety of the potential consequences of those scores took over, and I turned into an emotional basketcase.  With so much focus and hype now-a-days about student scores affecting teacher evaluations... .. yeah... definitely a cause for anxiety!

Of course, I could fall into "well, other veteran AP teachers have been commenting since the scores have been published that they are much lower than normal," but... still.  That won't cut the mustard on an evaluation.

So, I'm going to be ready to expect to be called into a meeting with the 'big bad administration.'  But I won't know what of much to say.  Again, I have more questions than answers too.  The kids came out of the testing room saying I had "over prepared them," so obviously, they felt they were confident and prepared.  **sigh**

I don't like feeling like I failed them, but how else can I feel?  

I wish I could see their tests to know where their weaknesses were...

Sunday, August 18, 2013

A work day - crochet top towels

Another scarf was finished this morning (my FAVORITE so far).  
Pattern:  Arugula Scarf
Size:  2" x 80"
This is the third of this pattern that I have worked up;  and other than adding more initial chains (due to the lighter weight yarn, I chained 300 to get the length to 80"), I followed the rest of the pattern exact.  
It is SO light and has almost a lacy weight to it, and the colors should blend nicely with any color.  I can totally see this as an accessory to jeans and one of those adorable cutesy T's that are all the hit lately.
I ended up using just a tad more than one skein of some el'chipo yarn from a bargain bin.  
Yarn label info:  "Flamme"  75% cotton, 17% acrylic, 8% polyamide.  50gr / 197 yards.  Made in Turkey.  It doesn't mention any yarn weight, but it has a "2" feel to it.

Then, feeling just a wee bit ambitious, I ACTUALLY ventured downstairs to the sewing room.  LOL. No quilting was in mind though.....  
My MIL sent me on the mission of working up some crochet-top kitchen towels for some craft fairs she has coming up this Fall.  She says they "sell like hotcakes," and last year she was asked over-n-over again by customers if she had any to sell.  She didn't;  this is one craft she doesn't do.  I think she would get some made up from one of her neighbors, but the lady didn't provide any to MIL last year.

My kitchen-towel venture was attempted a couple of weeks ago, but I wasn't liking the unpolished look of my first few.  The crocheting bit was easy-peasy, but it was the attaching-to-towel part that I wasn't satisfied with. 

My first trial was to simply stick the hook through the towel fabric about 1/2" below the cut edge. was alright, but I was worried the top may eventually fray off from the towel.  [[Can you say 'christmas gift to family' this year? ;) ]]

My second trial was to use the method shown here (tutorial), but after stitching along whole edge, I didn't care for how the front or back looked.  I thought maybe folding the edge over and seaming it with the sewing machine would work.

Well..... it sorta did, but didn't.  The seam was WAAAY too noticeable!  [[Yup, another Christmas gift will be heading to some lucky family member!  LOL]]

So.....REVERSE THE ORDER, Amy!  Seam first!

So, that's what I did.   And then, using a blanket stitch (which I knew how to do after watching this tutorial!), I attached the yarn to the top of the towel, hiding the turned over seam so nicely :)

Then it came time to needing buttons.  I simply FORGOT to look through my MIL's button stash the last time I was at her house!  Duh.  However, one lil' amazing suggestion from the first video tutorial link (here it is again) had me working on my own crochet-buttons!  Genius!  I wouldn't have thought to do that!

And then, through no planning of my own -- it just happened from the way my tails ended up... I simply used those tails to attach/tie the buttons to the towels.  SLICK!  

On my latest towel, I tried tapering off the flap to finish off with a nice "V" edge.    

So NOW, after a bit of trial-n-not-really-liking-all-parts-of-attempts, I think I have this craft licked.  With Paul still snoozing away (he ended his last night of night-shift last night/this morning), I think I'll find a movie to have as background noise, and work on some more towels to actually give to MIL for her craft sales.

I think this qualifies for Kathy's "slow-stitch-Sunday."  Right?

Happy Sunday everyone!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

I've been in a blogging funk

For the past few days, from time to time, I would have a sense of guilt come over me when the blog came to mind.  I'm pushing day 10 without a post.    I really don't know how Judy and Bonnie, in addition to so many others, can do it all.  Day after day, two, three, sometimes four posts a day.  

I've been fighting a funk. I think much of it has to do with school starting up right around the corner.  I've felt some minor anxiety attacks come on;  I really don't know what else to call them.  School creeps into my mind, and my heart-rate kicks up; I get a slight feeling of nausea.  **sigh**  I just realllllly want a good year this year.  I'm tired of not liking what my perception has become of our school.  And honestly, when I talk to other teachers around the nation and hear their stories, I really need to accept the realization that the profession has simply changed all OVER our nation;  it's not just isolated to our District.  The PRESSURE I feel ....  when I think of administration evaluations, admin expectations and directives being handed down to us with little inservice training time.... student evaluations and scores affecting my future.... new texts and new lessons with such little precious preparation time during the day.


I.  WILL.  SUCCEED.  THIS.  YEAR.   I won't be beat down this year.  LOL.

It's quite simple.  I don't like anxiety.  And that's what I feel right now when school comes to mind.  
Guess it's something I need to work on and figure out.

In the meantime, I HAVE been keeping busy behind the lack-of-blogging time.

The "Peaches and Cream" mill-ends baby afghan is complete.  30"x38"

The pattern was a one-row repeat, so very easy.... and quite redundant by the end.  @_@

So, this cute little purse caught my eye next....
The pattern did not specify how much yarn was needed, so I took a guess.

NOPERS!  Three balls of Aunt Lydia's plum crochet thread size 3 was NOT enough.  Therefore, it is being set aside until I get some more.

This is the first time I've used such a small 'yarn.'  And I LOVE it for this purse pattern!  Can't wait to get a finish out of it.

AND THEN.... Scarf City Central baby.  

I have a few more scarfs in the works;  all to improve my wardrobe :)  Heaven knows, I be needin' some style!

 So, there ya have it.  
Of course, the garden has also called my name from time to time.  Peas and cucumbers mostly so far.  However, the past two days, I have avoided the outdoors if/when I could.  **sigh**  Ragweed has reared its ugly face, and is in full bloom.  I picked up my renewed allergy medicine prescription this morning, and I've been reminded this afternoon of the feeling I have during the initial onset of my medicine regimen.    Loopy, druggy, and "out of body" feeling.  

LOL.  I have so many excuses flying around in my head about why I haven't been in the garden as much as I should.  Why I haven't been out running like I should.  Why I haven't been quilting like I could.  Why the house hasn't been cleaned.  Why the girls' closets haven't been sorted.

But really..... I'm just in a funk.  I don't feel like doing much of anything, except sitting, putting my feet up, and crocheting.
How's that for honesty? 

Happy Saturday everyone!  

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Away from home vacation time...

I'm not quite sure how I can actually think it's okay to be away from home for 10 days now that things are starting to reach harvest stage in the garden, but... that's what I'm doing.

And I have plenty of take-along projects to keep me busy during my vacation...

The purse was first on my list over the weekend while at the farm with in-laws.  Originally, I planned to only use a black Red Heart Shimmer yarn, but shortly after arriving, MIL pulled out a bag of different yarns she wanted to give to me and the girls.  This fuzzy green Moda-Dea Tutu yarn was too stinkin' cute not to use!!!!  So, I doubled up the Shimmer and Tutu yarns for the purse (instead of the suggested bulky weight), and it is simply adorable!   Love it!  Now, to decide whether or not to line it :)

The girls took their choices of yarn from the bag, BUT I got total dibs on this light 3-ply weighted "peaches and cream" lot!  There are no labels;  MIL really doesn't remember where she had received it from either, but I figured it'd be perfect for a little baby afghan!

I pulled out the book of 500 crochet stitches and gave Cassie the task of narrowing my 50 selections down to ONE.  LOL.  She chose stitch #482;  such a cute and simple pattern!

So now, I am at my mom's house for the rest of the week.  My sister, Jen, came to visit with me and the girls as well, plus Gma invited the other two cousins (my brother's kiddos) for the week;  and we don't have a whole lot of much on the agenda other than relaxing, visiting, and letting the girls play with their cousins.

Well......I DO have one little task on the agenda for either today or tomorrow!  I finally stuck my two $50 Hancock Fabrics gift cards into my card wallet (from last summer!) and will most likely bust through (at least) one of them while bringing home some new yarn and/or fabric.  
Other than that...... just a lot of relaxing.  And crocheting :)

Happy Tuesday!

{{Oh yeah, I suppose I could share...}}
Yesterday was 38 for me.  I finally have the reached the stage where I have the energy of two 19 year olds!  LOL.  Just another day around these parts :)

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Raspberry Sorbet turned out! {{I think}}

Last night at 10:30, Paul got up from the couch and headed to the kitchen for something-er-other.  And he asks...."Do you want to make up that sorbet?"

I had completely forgotten!  And knowing that I'm going to be out of the house for the next 10 days, I knew there was only one answer.

So, I went out to the chest freezer to retrieve the freeze-bowl;  Paul hooked everything up.  And after that, there wasn't much to do.  The raspberry juice and syrup slurry got mixed together (both had been chilling all day in the fridge), and then the machine did the rest for the next 12 minutes.

I'll admit, both Paul and I made the "errrr....this recipe is a flop" face.  After 12 minutes, the liquid was still liquid;  it hadn't turned into any kind of sorbet/ice-cream texture.  But, I dumped it into a container and put it in the freezer anyway.  I figured even a "flop" recipe was still going to taste good.

This morning, Paul peeked in on it and said..."Hey!  I think it worked."  And he proceeded to taste test the goods.  {{Of course, he also shared a small spoonful with me, too}}

I don't want the day to start out yet.  We only have one HUGE priority this morning before we can leave for the farm

Pick Raspberries.

**sigh**  At least I'll have the whole family out with me;  it's going to take 2-3 hours to pick them all, and I realllly realllly should get out there right now.  But, I'm sitting here listening to the "shoulder-PRO-CON conversation" happening.
Let's get out there and get it done.
I don't wanna.   
But... it's a coooool 60 degrees out.  
But.....I'm still tired.  AND I've been enjoying my time perusing, and there is an adorable bag that keeps getting my attention.  I'd so much rather continue "wasting" my time looking through Ravelry.
Fine, but it's going to get warmer the longer you wait.

Eventually, I know the "let's get out there and work" shoulder will win.  Maybe 17 more minutes -- 8:00AM ... that'll work, right?
I repeat what I said the other day -- I am NOT an extravagant, materialistic person..... but I can see making one of these Cah-UUUTE bags to carry around all of my stuff.  Now that I carry my keys with me everywhere I go (that's a story for a different time), and the phone, and wallet, and, and, and.... I am thinking it's time to finally buckle down and get a purse.  Now that I have the craft of crochet in my toolbox, I'd rather make one and REALLLY enjoy carrying it around :)

Happy Saturday everyone!

Friday, August 2, 2013

I wasn't tired last night...

Caitlyn's RWB afghan was set aside;  I wasn't feeling in the right mood to work on it anymore last night.  So, I started playing around with another Granny Square.... and another.... and another.  LOL
I ran out of "Caitlyn's" yarn, so I grabbed "Candace's" yarn (the lighter tan/brown/blue).  Plans for these:  I think I'm going to TRY to make up some cute lil' bags for each of the girls using "their" yarns.  Hook I/9 -- just in case I get sidetracked with something else and forget what size hook I used. 

Candace ended up posing here, but know that I grabbed the camera to get a shot of this wacka-doodle as she was scootin' through the kitchen.  August 2nd:  84 degrees, shorts, sports-bra and a SCARF!  LOL.  She is still so proud of her finish.

Honest engine; I HAVE been doing other things around here besides simply crocheting the hours away :)  The past two mornings, I have picked and picked raspberries, and I STILL haven't picked every row.  Each 'older' row has taken me two hours to pick (Cassie did help a bit two days ago); each row has filled a 5-quart bucket.  There are SO many berries out in those rows!   I have one more 'big' row to do, and then 4 rows of newer transplanted berries from two years ago.  Those rows are a bit more weeded over and haven't had lots of time to spread-spread-spread yet.  All of those rows might give me another 5-quart bucket together.  All-in-all... our raspberry patch is nearing the stage of out-growing our needs.  And hopefully, when Paul wakes up later and the day cools off, he'll be willing to help me pick the rest of the berries.  He finished up his string of night-shifts last night/this morning.  Now, he gets a few days off.  Therefore, we plan to head up to the farm for a couple of days.  MIL called earlier and said she'd LOVE to take some berries off my hands and make a pie.  10-4 good buddy!  Works for me :)

An update on the raspberry syrup recipe.
Recall I used 4 cups berry juice with 5.5 cups sugar.  Now that a jar has resided in the fridge for a couple of days (ALMOST empty now, mind you!), we've noticed it gels up a bit more than what a syrup should.  We simply shake it up, microwave what we want for a few seconds, and life is all good.  However, for the batches today, I cut back on the sugar to 5 cups. 

ALSO, I followed a recipe in our Kitchen Aide Ice Cream maker instruction booklet for Raspberry Sorbet.  The raspberry and syrup parts have to chill for at least 8 hours, so I should be able to work on that lil' goody later on tonight!   :D  Can't wait!

While making up the batches of syrup, dishes constantly needed to be washed, rinsed, dried, repeat.  I went through towels something fierce today, plus I have a bunch in the washing machine.  I hit the bare bottom of my towel drawer!!!  Hiding on the bottom was this 2-pack of Christmas towels, UNUSED; still with tags on them.  I have NO recollection of where/who/when we were given these, but they gave me a reminder idea I had last week -- Crochet-top towels that hang from the stove and/or fridge.  
Deb/VTQuilter posted a couple of weeks back these awesome crochet-top towels (post seen here), and she shared her instructions via email with me....
Deb's instructions:  (I HOPE she doesn't mind that I'm sharing these -- I simply don't want to lose the email.  I can always find the "recipe" on my blog now :)

Deb writes:
I don't have a set pattern. 
I cut it in the middle to make two. 
Then I do a chain stitch across the cut part. 
Turn and do a single crochet across. 
Then do a decrease stitch on the side, double crochet in each next 3 or 4 stitches and then do a decrease. 
Repeat that pattern until the end ending with a decrease. 
Turn and continue until you get down to 5-7 stitches to make the top part that hooks over the stove handle. 
I just do a double crochet in each stitch on each row until it is the length I want. Then I do a decrease, dc, decrease (with 5 stitches). Then a decrease for the last three stitches and end off. Add a button and you have a towel. 
Can you tell I make it up as I go *:) happy.

So, with the afternoon sun still a bit too warm for outside work, I'm going to give these towels a try!  Naturally, I don't want to mess up the new, unused ones.  Instead, I cut up an older one I have.  Around this house, you can NEVER have enough kitchen towels!

Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Another finish - Market Bag [Crochet]

I needed a break from Caitlyn's RWB afghan yesterday, so... after "wasting" some more time on Ravelry (ooooh, that place!!!!!), I was drawn to this adorable bag.  I had a couple skeins of Simply Soft (in bone) left over from the Slanted Shells, so I gave it a shot.

Yarn:  Caron Simply Soft.  1.5 skeins (~ 475 yards)

The Simply Soft gave the bag a fair amount of stretch.  I can definitely foresee making another one;  maybe using Red Heart Supersaver;  that yarn, afterall, is much stiffer than the Simply Soft :)

My plans for this bag will be to simply carry around the materials for my current crochet project.
Speaking of which... 
Caitlyn's RWB afghan grew another 18 rows (one more full set of RWB).  And yeah... that first section has gotta go!  I'll take care of that later on though...

On a different note, Big Mamma has been sitting on eggs for the past few weeks.  I expect her to hatch anyday now, so I went to just peek under her.
That goof!!!!  I haven't peeked under her in the past two weeks;  she had built up her egg nest to 8 at that time.  Now.........TWO!!!!!!  Two!  Where'd they go?!?!!?!?!  **sigh**
Oh well, we'll see what happens here.