Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Sunday Drive

It was such a beautiful day this past Sunday that Matt and I decided to go for a Sunday drive. We used to go quite often with my grandparents. PaPa would point the Caddy in the direction of the lake and off we'd go. MomMom would pack sandwiches and drinks to eat at her favorite spot across from Cedar Point. I miss those drives with my grandparents.

Today, however, we left PaPa's Caddy at home and went for our Sunday drive on our bikes. With a beautiful breeze coming off the water, it was nice and cool. Thank you polar vortex. We drove into the country for a ways before heading to Sherod Park. It's a beautiful park right on the water. We like to go down to the small beach to look for beach glass.

If you look way off to the horizon maybe you can just make out the sailboats. There were so many, but my camera on my phone can't zoom in that close.

After we parked our bikes against the tree we walked out to the beach. There were people swimming to the right so naturally we went to the left. There's a tiny stream of water we jumped across before getting to the other side of the beach.

The beach was made up of piles and piles of shells. That's why most people swim on the other side where there's more sand. I like to hear the crunch crunch of shells beneath my sandals.

Trees get washed ashore here.

I love how this beach is pretty much untouched.

It looks like someone tried to have a bonfire with this one.

This would make a lovely spot to rest in the shade and look out at the water.

Doesn't it look like it's pointing out to the water? The roots were the only thing left from the rest of the tree.

Matt and I miss having our boat. We'd be out there for sure if we still had it.

I just love, love, love the panoramic feature on my phone!

On our walk back to the bikes we stopped to admire the milkweed. Matt thinks we should plant some in our flower garden. Butterflies love it. When I was a little girl I would pull out the silky seeds from the pods and toss them in the air to watch them fly away.

Once we arrived at home I just couldn't go back in the house so I brought out my beach blanket and sat down on the grass to weave in the ends of my ripple blanket. I've been working on this one since Christmas break. It fits my queen size bed. All I have yet to do is crochet the border.

What a beautiful day. Thanks for sharing it with me.


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Books & Wine a Book Club

I love my book club. We are seven women strong and started our first book discussion on July 7, 2007. For our first book we read Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner. Seventy books later we finished The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison this past Friday night.

We meet once a month and generally follow the same hostess order: Aimee, Kristen, Kate, Amy, Me, Amy, and Heather. Yes. We have lots of Amy(ee)s in our club. Aimee is the one who started things off. If I remember correctly, some of her colleagues from work wanted to begin a book club. From those first inklings of a book club Aimee is the only one who went through with the idea. Thus we became Books & Wine/Wine & Books.

As I was saying, we meet once a month. In our first year we came up with some rules thanks to Amy. She's not just another pretty face.

Rule #1: The person who hosts the next month's book club must email the other members of book club about possible dates. Right. This rule hasn't really been followed. All though we do send reminders about book club on Facebook.

Instead we follow Rule #2: The future hostess should select two dates for members to choose. The future hostess brings the dates with her to the current book club meeting. This works well for us. Believe it or not we've been pretty good about meeting once a month. Even with all of our busy schedules plus our kids' and husbands' schedules. We make it happen!

Rule #3: The future hostess brings the book of choice to the current book club meeting to share. In the beginning we all purchased books. You know a cover and a back with pages in the middle and words on the pages. It began with one member buying a Kindle then slowly but surely every member purchased a Kindle. It was tough going with two English teachers who wanted the comfort of holding that book in their hands. ( I was one of the hold outs, but I love, love, love my Kindle.) Now we can read the description using technology. Wow. We're cutting edge.

Rule #4: There is no guilt involved when choosing a book and no one ends up liking it. Well, I can't seem to help feeling bad when one of my selections is a stinker. Like this last selection The Silent Wife. More on that in a minute.

Rule #5: Base your ratings on personal experience with the book. In the beginning we thought of the ratings as grades (teachers will do that) and kept comparing books to each other rather than holding the book up as an individual. We've since changed to judge the book based on our reading experience with the book. Here's our rating scale: 5 stars = one of the best; 4 stars = very good; 3 stars = good; 2 stars = made it through; and 1 star = couldn't make it through.

Rule #6: Book club begins at 7 p.m.

Whoever hosts the book club provides tasty treats and refreshments. It's extremely important to have delicious food and wine to stimulate conversation about the book.

So this last book club I served Asian BBQ meatballs, lemongrass chicken spring rolls, naan, ginger chips, and wheat thins with spinach and artichoke dip, sesame seed cashews, and lemon cake with lemon icing. For the wine selection I selected a Tuscan red called 1967 and from Pancake Cellars Big Day White as well as Project Happiness Chardonnay.

The book The Silent Wife (not a manual for husbands) was touted as being similar to Gone Girl. The only thing similar was the way in which the chapters were divided, Her and Him. It was supposed to be a psychological thriller and in one way I think that description fits. Kate said it was interesting to be inside Todd's head to listen to what he was thinking about Jodi. Many of us disagreed but Kate said, "I'm okay with the book being labeled as a psycho thriller. I'm standing by it!"

There was supposed to be a murder, but that didn't happen until just about the very end. I kept waiting for something to happen. There was no real cliff hanger to speak of and it just wasn't what I expected. The average rating of the book for the girls was 3.2.

Our next selection is called A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy.

Have a wonderful week.


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Sunday, February 2, 2014

Trying Something New in English Class

We're about to begin To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  One of my all time favorite novels to read and teach. Typically my students research the historical events that surround that time period i.e.. The Great Depression, The Dustbowl, Jim Crow Laws, Civil Rights, . . . and write a research paper. We do this prior to reading the story so the kids have an idea of the time period and events surrounding the author's life.

We're still going to complete the research, but in groups rather than individually. However, that isn't what this post is about. I wanted to come up with a different way to introduce the story.

So here's the something new. I'm going to have my students write a "Where I'm From" poem. I got the idea from George Ella Lyon's website. She wrote the poem. You can find her poem here.

First I'm going to read the poem aloud as students follow along. I believe students should see as well as hear the poem. But they shouldn't just hear the story from me, they should also hear the poet read her poem aloud. I found a video on youtube of George Ella Lyon reading her poem. You can find the video here. (The video gave me another idea. I'll get to that later.) Do you think the meaning of a poem can be affected when read by a stranger versus the poet herself? We're going to discuss that very thing in class.

Following our discussion we'll go over a template for the "Where I'm From" poem. I borrowed the template from here. Students will also receive a worksheet to help them brainstorm ideas to complete the template. (The worksheet is under construction. I'll post it soon.) Once students complete the brainstorming they will pair up and share what they come up with. Afterwards they will begin to write. I can't wait to see what they come up with. We'll spend some time revising and editing to reach our final piece of writing.

So here comes the something even newer . . . After students complete their "Where I'm From" poem they are going to add links. For each piece of writing they add to the template they will "link" it to an image, a video, another piece of personal writing, etc. For example, in George Ella Lyon's poem she wrote, "I am from the dirt under the back porch." If this were a line from a student's poem she would add a link. The link could be a photo of her back porch, or the dirt under the back porch. I hope this makes sense.

Since we're a one to one school we're supposed to include technology into our curriculum. The "linky poem" as I'm calling it helps fulfill that criteria in my English class. More importantly I'm hoping it will catch the interest of my students and more of them will WANT to complete the assignment.

I'm thinking we're going to write our poem with their links in google docs. In order for the links in the poem to work, the poem and the linked items must be located in a common folder. To that end each student will create a folder where she will include her poem and other linked items. The folder will be shared with everyone in the class including myself. If it works, we'll be able to open the poem, click on a link and the link will open. Keep your fingers crossed.

Finally the something even newer than newer . . . Students will create a video like George Ella Lyon's video on youtube. This is the idea I got from viewing George Ella Lyon's youtube video. Students will read their "Where I'm From" poem on the video while images move across the screen. Yea! Even more technology in my English class. Many of my kiddos enjoy making videos.

My kiddos are in regular ninth grade English and sadly many of them don't like school, well the part where they have to complete work. I hope my students will enjoy this project so that more will want to complete the assignment and actually enjoy it, for a school project anyway.

Has anyone else tried this before? If so please share your experience. If not, please let me know what you think.

Have a great week.

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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Snow Days

We have has some serious snow and bone chilling cold this month. Last Friday made it snow day number 6 for our school. We were right in the middle of exams that we had to push back because of all of the snow days added onto our Christmas break. Many fellow teachers and friends have predicted that we'll have at least one snow day this next week. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm ready to get back to a normal routine.

We've been keeping our feeders filled. Our squirrel pals not only eat all of their corn, but also eat the peanuts for the blue jays. We're going through seed and corn like crazy. We enjoy watching all of the activity in our backyard.

Our cat Sebastien has also enjoyed watching the birds and squirrels. He runs from the front living room window to the back porch windows. When he's not bird-watching I can find Sebastien sitting next to Bella in front of the heating vents.

I purchased new curtains for the living room. They really seem to brighten the space and help keep out the cold draft from the windows.

Our Amarilis bloomed in the kitchen. It's so pretty and pink. I wish it would last longer.

We found 10 rolls of film. We got them developed and were so happy with the photos. Of course the majority of them were of Michael. This was from Christmas. He loved his new big boy undies. I'm happy to say he figured out that the undies go under the pants not over them.

I was so excited when my yarn was finally delivered from Deramores. Just look at all of those juicy colors.

And my new crochet book arrived from amazon. Woot!

I immediately put the yarn to good use. My ripply blanket is well under way. It brightens my day and makes me happy as I work each new ripply row of color. The blanket has 227 stitches per row and I'm using 17 colors, four rows for each color. The colors look like waves rolling onto the beach.

No snowy day would be complete without some chocolate chip cookies. Of course the best way to eat them is to dunk them in milk. Yum!

What have you been doing to keep busy during these wintery snowy days?

Keep warm!


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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Some Hooky Projects: Ripples, hearts, and snowflakes

Over Christmas break I began working on a ripply blanket for my cousin's new baby. She's having a girl and naming her Elsie. Her due date was just moved up by two weeks. I better get hooking to finish it on time. I love the bright colors. The yarn I used was Caron SImply Soft Watermelon, Soft Blue, and Sunshine. This is actually the first ripple blanket that I've made. Well I did make a round ripple for my cousin's daughter Claire. For this ripply blanket I used Lucy's pattern found here. Lucy's pattern is so easy to follow.

Another tiny project I began over our extended Christmas break was a snowflake garland. Our break was extended due to the "polar vortex." The temperatures in my neck of the woods dropped to nine below with wind chills -20ish. The roads were an icy mess because it had rained most of the day on Sunday and then the cold set in and froze everything. Plus it began to snow, and snow, and snow. We were off from school an additional four days. I made three different snowflakes for my garland. You can find the patterns here, here, and here. I worked this garland up in an afternoon.

Yesterday I decided to make some hearts to decorate for Valentine's day. I realized that I really go all out for Christmas, but when it comes to other holidays I don't decorate nearly as much. The hearts are going to be used to make two different decorations. I'll be stringing the hearts on a garland like the snowflakes to hang from my hutch.

The second way I'm using the hearts is to crochet two together and then stuff them with batting. I'll hang these ornaments around the house. You can find the pattern for the hearts here.

Finally I made some granny square hearts to place under some of my candy dishes. The pattern for these hearts can be found here.

I hope you can use some of these patterns in your own home.


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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Honey and Cinnamon

I found this post on FaceBook this morning. I thought it quite interesting and decided to share it with you. Enjoy.

Post by Donna Hayes.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Christmas Treasures Bring Fond Memories

My MomMom and PaPa loved the Christmas season. This Christmas was the first one without either of my grandparents. It was tough at times and yet filled with bittersweet memories. These are some of the ornaments and Christmas decor that we brought home from my grandparents to decorate for the Christmas season. Enjoy.

This is our version of Elf on the Shelf. He's been
with our family a long time.

PaPa's star. It was one of the originals from the
gift shop, Switzer's Holiday House.

Santa in his sled.

Golden bell.

Crystal Angel

Crystal Tree

Crystal Nativity

Glass Teardrop

One of our favorite places to visit when we vacationed
in Myrtle Beach, Pawley's Island.

PaPa made these Christmas Caroling mice in his wood shop.

Mr. and Mrs. Clause with their little helper. PaPa made these
cutouts as well.

MomMom's goose, who I've named Penelope, wears her
caroling ensemble while sitting in the snow
by the back porch.

Rudolph, another of PaPa's creations,
 lights the way to our front door.

Mr. Snowman stands guard in the middle
of the garage doors.
PaPa made him from a telephone pole.


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