fabric collage

It was fabric collage day in the Textiles class. A lot of the kids just cut out shapes with the stencils we have and glue them down and call it a day, but there is usually at least one kid who gets a bit more creative and I love to see what they do. This year it was this sunset that impressed me.

Fabric collage by a textiles student

I particularly liked that the student cut out different shades of reds and oranges and built a sun rather than just choosing one fabric and cutting a half circle out of it. She came up with that idea completely on her own, with no prompting from any of the parents that I saw.

Kids are great.

taking a break

I deleted the Facebook app from my phone and iPad today. I started the day working at my younger son’s school in the sewing class that I have either lead or helped lead for since 2008. I often check my phone while our lead is talking to the kids, if I don’t have anything else to do and I got wrapped up in Facebook and all the (very understandable) hurt and anger that people are feeling and found myself arguing with a friend of a friend in her comments. In that moment, I felt like I needed someone to take Facebook away from me and not let me back on. This afternoon, I decided to be that someone. Obviously, I can still get back on but not having the app reminds me not to check it. Not to get sucked in. Instead, I donated money this evening to the ACLU and to Planned Parenthood and I will participate in other productive ways in the coming months but for now, I needed to step back and breathe.

Instead, I want to focus on the work I am doing to make my small part of the world better: my volunteering for the school. As I said, I have been working in the sewing class since my older son’s kindergarten year. This is my 18th session of the class. I know I am resistant to change but I’m still amazed that i have been doing it so long. One of my younger son’s classmates is in the class this time and he decided to draw his own design for the embroidery. He drew this cute cat face.

arts focus embroidery
M’s cat

I love to see the kids enjoy embroidery. Some of them struggle with it, some do intricate stitches and some, like this kid, have a vision of what they want to make and just go for it. He almost completed it today.

One of the kids said to me that embroidery takes a lot of time, and old people must do it because they have a lot of time on their hands. I told her that I embroider even though I don’t always have a lot of time because it just feels good to make things. It really does, it feels good to make things. So that is what I am going to do: make things and breathe and work on helping the kids at my child’s school appreciate the enjoyment of handwork and making things. Just because.

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pumpkin seeds and fabric collage

So, I am clearly a liar. I didn’t make anything yesterday! Well, I roasted pumpkin seeds.

Roasted pumpkin seeds

They were delicious, as usual. I have a roundabout, time-consuming recipe that I really think is worth it. I don’t remember where I got the recipe and I only have approximations and not exact amounts but what I generally do is (after scooping the seeds and separating them from the pumpkin guts):

  1. Dissolve some salt in some hot water.
  2. Soak seeds in salt water for several hours.
  3. Rinse soaked seeds and then spread out on a tea towel and allow to dry completely. Overnight is best.
  4. Toss soaked seeds with melted coconut oil and whatever seasoning you like (I am a purist and like just salt).
  5. Roast in a 350 degree oven for about 20-30 minutes, until golden brown, stirring every 10 minutes or so.
  6. Try not to eat them all at once.

I made them at the request of my younger son and I made the supreme sacrifice of leaving most of them for him.

Today was fabric collage day in Arts Focus. Sometimes the kids cut one shape and are done but this year we had a lot of intricate designs. I particularly liked these two.

fabric collage

fabric collage

The next three days are going to be very busy ones for me! I hope that I can find the time to post.

rainbows and LEDs

It rained a tiny bit today! Probably not enough to really get excited about but there was a lovely double rainbow after the tiny rain shower.

double rainbow at school

In other news, I cut felt, threaded conductive thread onto needles, waxed the thread, and prepped a few of the LED cuffs for the kinders who might have a hard time with the sewing.

prepped LED cuffs

I am excited to see what the kids do with this project tomorrow! I hope to get some pictures to share.

pulled pork and education meetings

I made pulled pork today. A few months ago I started buying meat from Moon Meadow Natural Beef. For a while our standard Sunday dinner was their hamburger patties on Acme Bread buns, both of which could be purchased at my local farmer’s market, which I love. Their burgers are amazing but I recently branched out. I have bought their pork chops, used their short ribs to make beef stew, their bacon to make bacony things, and this week, their pork shoulder to make pulled pork and it was incredible. I was going to post a picture but it got eaten before I could take one.

The other interesting (I hope) thing that I did today was attend a school district meeting. I am on our school’s site council and, as a member of that, represent our school on the district advisory committee. This months’ meeting was about district demographics, which I admit isn’t universally interesting, but last month’s was about Common Core. A lot of people have a lot of opinions about Common Core but I have noticed that most of the anxiety and conversation is around Math.

Math seems to hold an emotional piece for parents that Language Arts does not. I think this is because so many people have stressful experiences with math as a child or are good at math and end up tying a lot of their self-worth and identity to their math skills. I originally thought that most of the people upset about the changes in Common Core Math were people who were unsure of their math skills but I have since heard parents say that they are good at math and they need help! At my son’s school I believe that they could understand it, if they would read it closely or ask the teacher for explanation.

I have to admit that the emotion around math surprised me at first. When a conversation starts about Language Arts Common Core it always gets turned back to math. Math is where we need help, math is where we feel challenged. Math is what makes you smart, or not, in our minds. I am going to come out and say that I see the new standards as an improvement. I am not a teacher but I have spent 10 years at a parent participation school helping in the classroom, often during math time. I see the variety of teaching methods as a better way of reaching more kids at a place where they can get the concepts and feel like they are good at math. They are capable. I hope that the new standards get enough of a chance from the general public that the benefits can be seen. Change is hard. Math should not be.

twisting LEDs and a boring sweater picture

This week is the sewn circuit project that I do with my sewing class. Part of prepping for it is turning LEDs with straight leads into ones with round leads that are sewable. I spent a bit of time doing that today.

LEDs

I am always nervous that I am going to somehow ruin the LEDs when doing this part. I’m not even sure if that is possible. It probably isn’t. Up next: threading about 20 more needles with conductive thread that has been pulled through beeswax (to make it easier to sew) and prepping a few pieces for the kindergarteners, in case they don’t feel up to all of the sewing. Last year we had to make some of the kids redo parts of they sewed their circuit closed, which would short if they actually put the battery into the holder. The kinders in our class this year are surprisingly adept at sewing already so I’m not actually sure they’ll want them but I want to be ready.

In other news, this is what my sweater looks like now:

boring sweater progress

Terribly exciting, no? I am pretty happy because I reached the halfway point across the back. That means I might actually finish this piece of it and be able to pick up stitches for the other part. You know you are knitting something boring when picking up stitches is something to anticipate with excitement.

an LED expedition

Embroidery was fun in class today, as usual. I love how enthusiastic the kids get about it. This year’s class is skewed older so they were mostly self-sufficient rather quickly, which is nice to see.

After school, I had to go to Evil Mad Scientist to pick up LEDs for our sewn circuit. I had ordered the wrong size from another store and discovered that this place actually has them cheaper and I can go pick them up instead if paying for shipping. While I was there I also picked up a Sticker Circuit Starter Kit and I pre-ordered an LED menorah which I am very excited to get. My husband has promised to do the soldering for me but he needs a new soldering iron first. Win-win!

It turned out that today was Evil Mad Scientist’s open house so my whole family headed over in the evening to look at their kits and projects. My husband didn’t see any other kits he wanted but there were a few cool clocks I wished he wanted to make. Maybe I need to actually learn to solder myself. I have this fear that I will burn myself if I take that up! Also, I really do not need another hobby. That said, I am pretty excited to try the sticker circuits.

My knitting group friends said I should blog about having gone to knit night. I am not sure what there is to say other than reporting that knit night conversation is always interesting and unexpected. Today we started off talking a about Kim Kardashian and ended up talking about protein bars made of cricket flour. Yes, cricket flour is totally a thing. Will wonders never cease. This came up because my son’s Arts Focus class was spinning silk and the teacher of the class offered them silkworms to eat. He passed, as did I when someone offered to save me one. I love my kid’s school. And my knitting group.

NaBloPoMo Day 15: new crafts

I missed a day! I even had something to post about yesterday besides food: embroidery. I’m not actually doing any embroidery but I’m thinking about it. Kristi gave me Embroidered Effects for my birthday and I brought it to school yesterday to help me teach the kids in the sewing class how to embroider. I am going to guess that if you look at my blog posts for the past several Novembers you will find me saying that watching the kids embroider really makes me want to. As I told them: you don’t need fancy stitches to make something nice with embroidery. I should pick a project from that book and actually make it. I usually can’t figure out exactly what I’d do with something embroidered and that stops me from making it. I had the Sublime Stitching Stitchable Stationary kit and embroidered that last year, which I really liked doing. I could do more of that too. Every year, though, I talk about it and then the only embroidery I end up doing is on felt holiday decorations.

The other craft I’ve been thinking about is paracord bracelets. I was looking at a book about them in the bead store last week and then found a tutorial on how to make them and an Etsy shop that sells the supplies. So now I have paracord and buckles and I guess I better figure out how they all go together. I was hoping to get my kids interested in working on them. I got some glow in the dark buckles but they have turned out to be enormous so I’m not sure they’ll work. I got a few smaller green ones too. If it happens, I will post pictures.

I can’t resist mentioning a few food things:

  • I made a chicken in the slow cooker again. This time I put it in breast down and left it a bit shorter. It was so good and it was magically ready when we got home from getting the kids and going to the library. I may never roast a chicken in the oven again. (I’m lying, I miss the crispy skin.)
  • I then started another batch of chicken broth because the last one all got eaten in just a few days. Matzo ball soup will do that.
  • I made chocolate cupcakes for my son’s end of season soccer party tomorrow. I meant to make them cookies ‘n creme cupcakes but I forgot to add the cookies. I put them in the frosting instead and used TJ’s peppermint Joe Joes. This might be the best idea ever.

Okay, I’m done talking about food. For now.

NaBloPoMo Day 7: an uplifting day

Today was much much better than yesterday. As you may have guessed, that wasn’t hard but it was even better than I would have expected.

November always brings about the first session of the Arts Focus classes at my younger son’s school. I have been involved with the program for all of the seven years I have had a child there and I love it. I think the kids love it too. For six Thursdays they get to work in one kind of art in a mixed grade class. The fifth graders help the kinders the kinders asking for their help gives the older kids confidence. It is pretty awesome.

I co-lead the sewing class and do most of the instruction but this year I have a team that is doing most of the prep so I won’t be posting pictures of the projects most likely but working in the class today was one of the things that made me feel so much better. One of our projects is a group quilt and today was the day the kids start piecing the top and they were all fairly into it. We are doing it slightly differently this year so they had less to do but they seemed to finish fast even taking that into account. I would like to think that they were inspired by my presentation of various quilts of different types to show them all the possibilities. I might just hold on to that for a while. Whatever the reason it was quite satisfying to watch!

I am going to keep my fingers crosses that the days keep improving. I could sure use more good news and uplifting feelings.