Saturday, January 17, 2015

First Goal

Today is the baby shower for my co-worker. As you can see from the above photo, I was able to finish the quilt in time. I actually had it finished last weekend but only photographed it this morning. January is half over and I've completed half of my January goal. I have one more quilt to complete before February. I have most of the fabric already purchased for the next quilt. In fact, I'm using curtains I found at a thrift store for the main section of the quilt. I will keep this next one simple as well so I can get it completed in time. I hope to cut the fabric today when I get home from the shower. 

My goal for this week is to work a little bit every day on something creative. I find that I have a hard time motivating myself after I come home from school and get supper on the table. It is so cold and dark that I just want to crawl into bed! I work so much better in the morning. The good news is that the days are getting longer now. We also got our heat fixed so it no longer feels like a refrigerator in my sewing room. That should help. I have the day off school on Monday so I'm hoping to get a lot accomplished this weekend.

Happy Saturday, everyone.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Sorry, I Drank all the Coffee...

It has been very cold here in PA this week. 

Did I mention it was very cold here? Did I also mention that some of our radiators aren't working? 

When the temperature is in the teens and the wind chill sends the temperature to around 0, my body goes into hibernation mode. Our house has been an ice box. I was thinking about taking my sleeping bag to work since it's toasty warm there.

Unfortunately, when it is cold and dark and my body is in hibernation mode I just want to crawl under my electric blanket with a book and not come out again until spring. 


Lets just say I wasn't real motivated to work on my creative resolution this week. I forced myself to get the quilting done anyway. I could only do a little at a time before my hands were frozen blocks of ice. I'm glad this was a baby quilt and not a queen size or it would never get done!

Fortunately, every week ends in a nice little weekend and my Saturday morning started off by me waking up at 4:30 a.m. I didn't actually get out of bed until 5:30 but I did manage to drink almost a whole pot of coffee before my husband was up and about. 

While highly caffeinated I also managed to cut and attach the binding to the quilt. If you remember, my goal was to sew the binding on properly, not almost properly like I usually do. 

I'm pretty good at binding, if I must say so myself, until it comes to attaching the binding to itself once I've gone 'round the quilt. The binding should be sewn on an angle anywhere it is attached and I have never been very good (read that as patient enough) at getting the ends to line up correctly. So, usually I just sew a straight line where the ends meet up and call it a day. Every time I do it I am ashamed of myself. I think, "I know I can do this properly but I just don't want to take the time. No on will notice anyway, right????"

Shame on me. Well, I did vow I'd do it properly this time so I took out my handy binding ruler which is supposed to make things super easy. Guess what? It still took me about 5 tries (which means ripping things apart 5 times) before I finally got it right. Luckily I know better than to cut the ends off the binding before sewing it together like they recommend. I know myself better than that!
In the end, I got the binding sewn to the quilt and pinned to the back ready for the last step (hand sewing it to the back). And all before 9 a.m.

Of course, Mike had to make another pot of coffee when he got up.......

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Time and Creativity

I've been thinking quite a bit about my creative resolution since deciding to make it. In some ways, putting time limits on creativity is good and in some ways very bad. What is good for me is that time limits force me to get to work. Knowing I have two quilts to finish this month has made me get to work planning and cutting. The time limit isn't just of my own making (that I would focus on quilting in the month of January) but also of a natural sort (the two baby quilts are presents for babies due to arrive in February). 

The down side of time constraints mean less time to fuss and think and fix and redo. However, part of being creative is in the doing. Part of being creative is in the taking a look at your creativity and critiquing it. I heard once that the most creative people aren't afraid to take a risk, to put themselves out there, to just go ahead and take the plunge, no matter if the creating is good or not so good. 

So I'm trying not to be too hard on myself. I've had off work for two weeks due to Winter Break at school and must go back tomorrow. I spent a lot of time in my classroom cleaning and reorganizing and putting new works on the shelf for January. It never ceases to amaze me at the amount of time this takes. I'm taking a look at my time, asking myself if I am spending it wisely. I'm trying to determine if there is some way to streamline what I do at school so that I have more time for other pursuits. Like quilting!

So Friday I spent working on my quilt, Saturday on my classroom, and this morning back to quilting. One of the major necessities in quilting is measuring. I find that no matter how hard I try, no matter how accurate I think I am being, my measurements are always a little off. Oh my. Something to continue to work on, to focus more deeply on the next quilt.

In the meantime I am off to the fabric store to buy the backing for this quilt. I like to use flannel because it is so warm and snug, something necessary when a baby is born in the middle of winter. I hope to get the quilt sandwiched and pinned today if possible. I fear time may not be on my side, however!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Studio 360 Creative New Year's Resolution(s)

I really enjoy listening to the radio program Studio 360. I guess I discovered it when our local public radio station went from being primarily a Classical music station to a news oriented station. I listen to the Studio 360 podcasts on my iPod when I'm at the gym and also in the middle of the night when I have trouble sleeping.

Studio 360 has highlighted some of their listeners' creative New Year's Resolutions over the last two years and I've really enjoyed hearing the types of creative endeavors people have been working on. It has always made me think about making my own creative resolution but I could never really think of one thing I'd like to focus on. 

I was sifting through all the creative things I'd like to be better at: quilting, sewing, photography, cooking, baking, singing, playing guitar and piano, drawing, painting, printmaking, etc., etc. It then hit me that it might work better for me to pick one thing to work on each month. I'm sort of AD/HD in that way!

So here is my 2015 Creative Resolution: To focus on one creative endeavor each month of 2015 and to blog about my progress here. 

For the month of January I am focusing on quilting as there are two quilts I need to finish this month (I need to start them, too!). Since my hope is to learn something more about each endeavor, I'm going to focus on learning to properly finish the binding on these two quilts.

In other months I'm planning to learn to embroider, to better learn the music of the Carter Family and maybe even do a little recording with my very talented hubby. I'm also thinking I may spend a month learning more about my computer and how to be more savvy with my blog (html and graphic design). Who knows? I'm thinking about fabric printing and designing my own clothes, making cards from my photography and doing some baking and cooking projects with my sons. I guess we'll all have to stay tuned to find out the focus for each month of 2015.

If you'd like to join me in this year of creative resolutions, let me know! I'd love to follow your progress as well. Feel free to comment with your creative resolution. We can all inspire each other.

Monday, September 15, 2014

A Nature Preserve Challenge

 This morning I saw a Facebook post from my husband about two young men (recently divorced and jobless) who rode their motorcycles from California to the Arctic Circle. Actually, they rode beyond the Arctic Circle until the road ran out! The photos were stunning. 

Now, I love both my husband and my job and hope to keep both for a VERY long time. However, this post reminded me of my love for the outdoors and also for a challenge I've had on the back burner for a while.

We are blessed in Lancaster Co., PA to have a wonderful organization called the Lancaster County Conservancy. Our family has hiked on some of their land over the past several years. The views are always beautiful. I have always hoped to someday visit each of the Conservancy Preserves. 

So this morning, after looking at the gorgeous photographs of Oregon, Canada and Alaska, I determined that I could get my little Ford Escort to the far reaches of Lancaster County after work. 

Today I visited Rannel's Kettle Run Nature Preserve. I left work later than I intended (that ALWAYS seems to happen) but I still had time for the drive north past Brickerville. It was a beautiful day today.

I found the preserve, changed from my sneakers into my hiking boots (yes, I sometimes wear sneakers to work!) grabbed my camera and crossed over to the trail head. The horseshoe trail circles the Conservancy Preserve. I walked only a few feet into the trail when I saw the sign: "Beware of the Bear." Ok, on the drive up it occurred to me that I don't usually hike alone. It occurred to me that I was off the beaten path and that there might be strangers on the trail. It did NOT occur to me that there could be BEARS on the trail. 

After I saw the sign I did wonder if there actually was a bear. It crossed my mind that the owners of the land skirting both sides of the trail might not love people near their land. It was POSSIBLE that the sign was a hoax. On the other hand......

Well, I decided to be brave and continue on. The hike is a nice one. Not too easy but not horrible. It ascends quite a bit and is very rocky. I kept a good lookout for the bear, scaring myself with every sound I heard and every large tree stump I saw out of my peripheral vision!

I have to admit that I scared myself out of the whole hike. I feel  a bit wimpy about that but convinced myself that it would be past 6 p.m. when I got back home and I did have CHILDREN at home waiting for me. (Disclaimer: my "kids" are almost adults and can totally take care of themselves.) Maybe they needed help with homework. Maybe. 

If you are a Lancaster County or nearby neighbor, I highly recommend this hike at Rannel's Kettle Run Nature Preserve. Just watch out for the bear.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Saturday is.....

Yard sale day!!!!

I have stocked both my church and school classrooms primarily from yard sales and thrift stores. It makes buying things new very impractical! At this time I'm mostly looking for items for my Continent Drawers. I was lucky enough to find quite a few things today.

 My Asia drawer is getting quite full but I couldn't resist a few more items like the embroidered slippers from China. You can also see a Native American doll, a little glass sand sculpture from the painted desert, a spoon from Florida, a covered wagon model and two little license plates. I was excited to find so much for North America because that drawer was a little slim. I also found the little South American doll and a Mask from Africa. Both these drawers are also VERY slim. I'm still searching for items from Australia which is the country will be studying this year but I have not been successful in finding anything....yet!
In addition to my Continent Drawer items I scored quite a few books, including a few grammar books by Ruth Heller which I was planning to purchase this summer. Since I got them for about $0.25 each I was REALLY pleased! I also found this nice cube puzzle (which is quite challenging. I'll make a control chart for all four puzzle possibilities to help the children) and a Sounds of the World Bingo set. I'll use that at circle time to help the children work on their listening skills. 

I was happy to find a few other things that you don't see in the photo: felt shapes which we'll use for button sewing (I was thrilled to find these as I typically have to hand cut the shapes myself!) and several bags of pony beads which the children love to use to make necklaces. 

Not bad for a Saturday morning. I didn't even leave my school district! I actually stopped at school to drop off a few things so I didn't have them here at home (wooden building materials, a mosaic board, a ladybug for our garden and a small watering can). 

I spent a few hours at school yesterday weeding our classroom garden box so I could plant two pumpkin plants. I wanted to have something growing for the children when they return in September. Some of the children were attending summer camp and it was so fun to talk with them! One three year old spent most of the afternoon helping me weed and chatting non-stop! She has really grown and matured since the end of school. It made me miss everyone and although I'm loving my vacation, it made me realize how much I love what I do!

Happy weekend everyone.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Building Writing Skills through the Mail

One of my most favorite places to find materials for my classrooms at both school and church is Lancaster Creative Reuse (LCR). If you are anywhere near the Lancaster, PA area and are creative in any capacity you MUST go to LCR. Frequently. Weekly. Daily. Hourly. I. Mean. It.

I can't list the number of great things I've found at LCR. As a Primary Montessori teacher I need to make lots of my own materials. Finding them for $0.10 is the way to go! Enter Lancaster Creative Reuse. 

Here is my most recent LCR find and re-use. 
Melissa and Doug Mail box sans doors. To the right is the chair cover we replaced. 
Who doesn't like to mail a letter? Who doesn't like to receive a letter? It happens so much less in this digital age than ever before. (Side note: After sending out my thank you's for the year I received two letters from my students. It was so GREAT to hear from them. One informed me her sister played the Opera at FULL BLAST and another sent a post card from vacation informing me he caught a shark!) 

When I saw this great mail box (although not in perfect condition) at LCR I just couldn't resist. For $4 I figured I could make it work somehow. 

With a little ingenuity (AKA sewing skills and velcro) I added a little 'mail bag' to the mailbox. The bag was made from our discarded IKEA chair cover. It's a re-use and re-use type project!

I then returned to LCR and found some inexpensive envelopes and notepad for writing and 'sending' letters. On Saturday's garage sale extravaganza I found the writing center container and wooden pencil holder. One of the things I learned in my Montessori training was to look for the 'Point of Interest' in a material. So in this particular lesson the point of interest ( or points in this case) is the opening of the pencil case and the slots for the mail.

Of course, this work requires that one of our classroom jobs be 'mailperson.' That job will require one child to empty the 'mail' each day and deliver the 'mail' to the proper student. 

I anticipate this to be a very popular work next year. 

Learning objectives? 

  • handwriting
  • motor coordination
  • responsibility (for the child who is the 'mailperson')
  • writing communicates information to others
  • on, and on, and on.......
Now for a trip to my classroom to get this stuff out of my little house.......
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