Tuesday, December 31, 2013

best books of 2013

photo credit: Georg Mayer via Flickr
This year I read 53 books. These were my favorites:

  • Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  • The Raven Boys & The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
  • The Forest of Hands and Teeth (only the first book) by Carrie Ryan
  • Looking for Alaska by John Green
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  • The Highest Tide by Jim Lynch
  • The Movement of Stars by Amy Brill

  • A Symphony for the Sheep by Cynthia Millen
  • Zen Shorts by Jon J. Muth

  • The Urban Bestiary by Lyanda Lynn Haupt
  • Pilgrim on the Great Bird Continent by Lyanda Lynn Haupt

And my overall favorites from this year:
  • Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
  • Mink River by Brian Doyle

Trends I noticed in my book choices this year:
I read quite a bit of YA, but with my job as a middle school science teacher I think that's to be expected. I also read a lot on the bus once September hit, so YA books were a good choice. Of those YA books, though, I read quite a few tearjerkers: Speak, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Looking for Alaska, Tell the Wolves I'm Home and of course the whammy The Fault in Our Stars.

So what am I reading right now? I'm re-reading Game of Thrones. Something familiar and complex that won't end with me crying my eyes out. I think it's a good plan.

Friday, December 20, 2013

winter 2013

In the spirit of this post (and this one), I've made a list of things I hope to do during the upcoming season.

  • enjoy a winter music concert
  • write in my journal
  • knit something (working on a blanket and some fingerless mittens for Mom)
  • sew pj pants (I have fabric, just need measurements)
  • go skiing (I signed up for ski bus)
  • drink hot glogg (oh yes, there's been plenty of this)
  • bake gingerbread cookies
  • Uncle Gary's spinach dip

Sunday, October 20, 2013

fires and fabric

What's New?
Thanks to this post, I've found myself filling my extra time (what little I have) with meaningful endeavors. Last weekend, when Joe and I realized we had no specific evening plans, we decided to invite some friends to join us at the nearby beach for a bonfire with s'mores. It was cold, but clear (no rain in Seattle during fall is something to celebrate). Next time we'll bring more wood so we can have a bigger fire. I only bought one bundle, not knowing how much we'd need.

Last weekend also included a trip to the big fabric store so I could work on my nephew Mason's quilt. I already had one fabric for the back (Alexander Henry's adorable zoo print, which I used as inspiration for the colors on the front), but I had initially bought not enough to cover the whole quilt back. So, I found a complimentary solid and got to work putting together the quilt layers.

I want the quilt to be ready in time for Christmas, and I think that will be possible. I'm still not sure what I'll use for binding, but I have some time to figure that out. Right now I'm quilting the layers together. After that I'll trim it so that each edge is straight, and then comes binding. I think I might take the almost-finished quilt to my local fabric store and ask the owner for her recommendation on binding. She has a good eye.

Currently Reading (I'm up to 40 books read this year - just might make my goal of 50)
  • Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater - Finished this week. I love this series and I can't wait for the next one. The characters are well-developed, the female protagonist holds her own, and the supernatural elements are fascinating.
  • If It's Not One Thing, It's Your Mother by Julia Sweeney - Finished this weekend. This was a funny read about family. I appreciated the author's candor and humor.
  • The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan (book three in the YA zombie series) - Just started this last night. Looking forward to a good read.

On the Needles
I've been slowly working on finishing my striped Idlewood sweater. I got to the end of the first sleeve, and I've ripped it back a couple inches and started again about three times. I just couldn't decide how to end the sleeve, but I think I'll stick with my current approach. I went down one needle size, started a 3x3 ribbing and decreased on the second row to 3x2 ribbing. The leftover yarn looks like just enough for the second sleeve, but there's a real possibility that I'll run out. Cross your fingers.

Looking Forward To
  1. meeting an old friend, and some new ones, at a local coffee shop for a proper stitch and bitch

Saturday, October 12, 2013

changing leaves

artful leaf arrangement by one of my students
What's New?
Autumn is the season when the Earth slows down, bundles up, and gets ready for a long winter nap. Autumn is also the beginning of school. As a teacher, that means autumn is the time when my work ramps up into high gear and I find myself whizzing through September so fast that I barely realize it's gone until the second week of October. I find this dichotomy fascinating, yet also a bit sad. While my spirit wants to spend lazy evenings tucked in bed under a warm blanket with a good book, my brain tells me I need to work at a frenzied pace.

carrots from my garden
I know this is mainly due to the added stress and work involved in changing schools and districts, but I feel especially sad about this autumn. I missed the fair this year. I fear I missed apple picking as well. If I'm not careful, I'll miss the pumpkin patch. I haven't put up any of my autumn decorations. I'm not Martha Stewart, by far, but I do have a few seasonal decorations that make me happy.

the trees near my home
I do have some bright spots ahead, though, and I try to focus on those. Joe has asked me to knit him some fingerless gloves (something I've been wanting to do for some time now), and we bought yarn for them on his birthday. I'm joining a friend later this month for a Meetup knitting group at a neighborhood coffee shop. And last, but not least, riding the bus (along with walking to and from bus stops) has afforded me much time to gaze and wonder at the beautiful changing leaves.

my 6th graders collecting depth data
I took my 6th graders to the creek across the street to gather data for their first field study. It was a bit exhausting marching them over and back again (and then doing it again for the other two 6th grade classes), but I think we all had fun.

Currently Reading
  • The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan - I finished this book this week, and I enjoyed it so much that I've put the 3rd book in the trilogy on my library queue. 
  • The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater - book #2 in the Raven Boys series.

On the Needles
I've picked up my striped Idlewood sweater after many months of neglect. The only thing it needs is sleeves (and one of them was almost finished already), so really there's no excuse not to finish it. After it is done I'll start up again on my Leaflet sweater (which is also almost finished) so that I can start Joe's gloves.

Looking Forward To
  1. a beautiful week coming up

Friday, October 4, 2013


What's New?
This week has been a doozy! We've had a block schedule to accommodate standardized testing, which means that we have our classes for twice the amount of time, but see them every other day. This also means that we only have our prep period every other day. On top of that, Wednesday night was parent night, the book sale fundraiser was going on, we had two unplanned fire drills, and Friday was spirit day complete with an assembly schedule. I got three new-to-the-building students this week, and several others with schedule changes. Work has been tough this week, to say the least. I chose the pictures for this post for two reasons: I've spent much more time than usual at my school this week, and the fog from the top of the hill this morning looked a bit like how my head felt after juggling way too many schedule changes.

Currently Reading
  • The Movement of Stars by Amy Brill - Finished this book yesterday. Science, feminism, history, and a beautiful sense of place. I enjoyed this read.
  • The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan - this sequel to The Forest of Hands and Teeth is very good so far.

On the Needles
I finished my new fingerless gloves, and I love them. Now I just need to take a decent picture of them so that I can update my Ravelry project page. I've quite a bit of that yarn left over - what to use it for?

Looking Forward To:
  1. a quiet weekend to recharge

Friday, September 27, 2013

farewell September

What's New?
Transitions are always hard for me. September brings the start of the school year, and a big shift from summer life to autumn life. I get up earlier (sort of), get out the door earlier, and spend most of my day away from home. Both of us have long commutes, and long days, so simple things like food preparation sometimes become huge challenges. I'm pretty good at doing food prep on the weekend, but I still have those days when I realize on the ride home that I have no idea what's for dinner.

We've also been struggling with keeping the house tidy, and since our "house" is a pretty small apartment, that becomes a huge deal very quickly. So I looked at what the problems seemed to be, and realized that for many of the things that ended up scattered around the living room, they simply did not have a designated place to be. So I started looking around and ended up finding an IKEA shelf combo on Craigslist for less than half of what it would cost new. Now our commute bags & lunch boxes have permanent homes (not just somewhere on the couch, or near the couch on the floor, or wherever we drop them when we walk in the door). Ahem.

Currently Reading (36 books so far this year - I just might make it to 50)
  • Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson - I sped through this book in two days. It's YA, and should be required reading for all middle schoolers/high schoolers, in my opinion. Not an easy subject to read about, but so terribly important.
  • The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan - I finished this book and have already added the sequel to my library queue
  • Casing Spells by Barbara Bretton - I had to call it quits. I was attracted to knitting + fantasy, but this is clearly a romance, and a predictable one too, and the author throws in so many quick details about the fifty billion different fantasy characters that live in this world that I feel like she's just sprinkling glitter onto her manuscript (and don't get me started on the fantasy character that actually sprinkles glitter wherever she goes). I'd prefer one or two fantasy characters that are fleshed out completely, rather than a hodge-podge of superficial characters.
  • The Movement of Stars by Amy Brill - just picked this one up, and so far I'm enjoying the story.

On the Needles
I finally picked a project for the single skein of Malabrigo Rios I picked up this summer. I couldn't decide if I wanted to make another infinity scarf, a hat, or new fingerless gloves. I settled on new fingerless gloves, to replace the tattered pair I knit nearly five years ago. It's been slow-going, and I've already frogged it once, but I really like the pattern so far, and I LOVE the subtle color variations in the yarn.

Looking Forward To:
  1. celebrating Joe's 30th birthday

Friday, September 20, 2013

autumn 2013

In the spirit of this post, I've made a list of things I hope to do during the upcoming season.

* finish Mason's quilt - 10/12/13 making progress
* finish Leaflet sweater
* make wax leaves
* make a winter car kit
* make a winter storm kit for the house
* make applesauce

* visit a pumpkin patch
* pick apples
* plant garlic
* prep my garden for winter
* bonfire at the beach with s'mores - 10/12/13
* go on a hike in the Cascades

* pumpkin soup - 10/18/13
* butternut squash soup - 10/05/13
* pumpkin spice latte
* chili & cornbread

Some of these will be harder to accomplish than others. I will most definitely make and eat soup this autumn, and I've already started some of these projects (winter kits, quilt, sweater). Eating s'mores at the beach requires some pre-planning, not to mention a rain free evening combined with an available fire pit. Joe and I almost always visit a pumpkin patch and go north to pick apples, so those shouldn't be a problem. The wax leaves is a new project I saw here.

Some past autumn posts:

Saturday, September 14, 2013

noticing the view

What's New?
I survived the second week of school (the first full week). Every day except for this Monday I rode the bus (Monday I had an errand to run after work). There are definitely advantages and disadvantages to riding the bus. The pictures above are one of the advantages. That's the bus stop where I catch the first of two buses home.

Riding the bus has allowed me to notice things that I normally would not see. In the morning I get to stare out the window at Elliott Bay, Mt Rainier, the Duwamish River, and downtown Seattle as I ride my first bus. On my second bus I get to notice the wide variety of shops and storefronts in the U-District, and the HUGE P-Patch garden off of Ravenna. Once I get off my second bus I have a short 3-block walk down the hill where I get to hear the birds sing their morning songs.

Anyone who has ridden a city bus can imagine the disadvantages. I'm sure they are pretty universal: unreliable timetables, obnoxious passengers, and long ride-times. Everything has it's less-desirable facets. Even driving my car does. But I prefer to focus on the positive, and enjoy the aspects that I can.

Currently Reading
  • Looking for Alaska by John Green - riding the bus helped me whiz through this touching novel
  • Casting Spells by Barbara Bretton - this is my Kindle read, and so far it's entertaining

On the Needles
This week has been around 80* outside, and almost 90* inside my classroom (one downside to a huge wall of south-facing windows and poor air circulation), so I haven't touched my needles all week.

Looking Forward To:
  1. seeing the new Riddick movie with friends

Saturday, September 7, 2013

first week back

What's New?
This week was the first week of school. I went back to work Tuesday after the long weekend, and the kids started Wednesday. The photo above is my view most mornings as I walk the few blocks from my bus stop at the top of the hill towards my school.

This week I also started commuting by bus. I live on the other side of the city from my new school, so with traffic it takes about an hour to travel the distance (22 minutes w/o traffic). I've opted to travel by bus - it's cheaper than gas, allows me to do other things (read, knit, etc), and most of the time it's less stressful. So far mornings are faster (an hour versus hour and a half), and people are much more subdued. The evenings take longer, and tend to be when the more colorful passengers show up. It's also much more environmentally friendly. With both of us commuting by bus, our car is going to see fewer miles and burn less gas.

As far as my students go... we're still trying to balance the schedule, so my class lists will change sometime next week. I have too few kids in my 6th grade classes, while my neighbor has too many. I have all of the 8th graders, so while some might change from 1st period to 5th period, I will still have the same kids. I'm starting to learn names, but I have many more to go before I know them all.

Currently Reading
  • I started reading If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor, because it is written in a similar style to Mink River, but I think I'm going to put it down. It's interesting, but not compelling enough to make me pick it up.
  • I also started The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau. I've seen the movie, so I know the story, but I'm enjoying the read.
  • Since my husband still has my Kindle captive (and The City of Ember is on the Kindle), I've brought Looking for Alaska by John Green with me on the bus. 

On the Needles
I need to figure out what I can take with me to knit on the bus. I have three projects in process: a dishcloth that's about halfway done; a striped Idlewood sweater that just needs sleeves finished; and my Leaflet cardigan that needs to be blocked first before I can pick up stitches and knit the collar. Decisions, decisions...

Looking Forward To:
  1. taking some "me-time" to recharge

Friday, August 30, 2013


What's New?
Joe and I picked 8 lbs of blueberries last weekend! I was afraid that we'd missed the season this year. So many blueberry farms were already closed, and the ones that were still open said that picking was slim. We went to a closer farm in North Bend instead of driving all the way to Arlington. I was relieved to find blueberries still on the bushes.

So far I've only made blueberry cinnamon rolls (no boy bait yet - school is starting next week and I've been overwhelmingly busy)

Currently Reading
  • Mink River by Brian Doyle - I finished Mink River, and let me just say that the last paragraph was amazing. It's very long, but I'll give you a taste:
"...seven drops of water fell from the sky, headlong, pell-mell, sliding from the brooding mist, and then seventy, and then the gentle deluge, a whisper of wet, a thorough and persistent pittering on leaf mold and newt knuckle, web and wood, tent and vent, house and mouse, the rain splattering the sea, soaking boots, rinsing streets, fluffing owls and wetting towels..."
  • If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor - Just started this last night. I put it on my to-read list after looking for more books written in the poetry/prose style like Mink River.

On the Needles
No time to knit this week, due to getting my classroom set-up, attending back-to-school meetings in my building, and just generally working my tush off to be ready next week when the kiddos walk through the door.

Looking Forward To
  1. spending Saturday with friends

Friday, August 23, 2013

settling in to my classroom

What's New?
Tuesday of this week was my first day officially moving in. When I arrived at school, the previous teacher's boxes were still in my room. However, she stopped by, saw them still there and went down to the office. Five minutes later she returned with the principal, both vice-principals and the principal-intern and together we moved the boxes out of my room and into her new room down the hall. I was so impressed by the community spirit, and the willingness to do what needed to be done, no matter whose job it was. I think I'm going to really like teaching at this school.

After the boxes were moved out, in came my stuff! I've been working on finding places for my things that makes sense, and figuring out how I want to use my space. Speaking of space, this new room of mine is HUGE! There is room for two teacher desks (that happened to already be in there), so I can have one for the computer and another one to spread out my piles use for planning. There is enough room for my favorite student desk configuration, and more space in the back for small groups or even for the whole class to pull up a chair for some direct instruction.

Currently Reading
  • Mink River by Brian Doyle - I am still hooked on this book! I love the poetry/prose, and the apt yet beautiful descriptions of living in the Pacific Northwest. I may have to buy this book so that I can read it again whenever the mood strikes.
On the Needles
Working on dishcloth #2. I'm hoping to use up the remainder of my blue cotton yarn.

Looking Forward To:
  1. picking blueberries
  2. starting work

Friday, August 16, 2013

almost there...

  This is what my new classroom looks like right now, before any unpacking or organizing.

What's New?
I've been doing a whole lot of nothing lately, and blaming it on a lingering cough and runny nose. I've got to step up my game, though, or when school starts I will be toast. This weekend my in-laws are coming up to Seattle to go kayaking with us on Elliot Bay, and next week I'll start operations move-into-classroom and get-classroom-ready. I tried to start this week, but the previous teacher's boxes had not been moved yet. I didn't want that to stop me from being productive, though, so I arranged the desks, sketched out a floor plan and started planning where I'll put things.

The weather changed on Wednesday and I can feel autumn pulling at the air. I told Joe that I'm ready for autumn (it's my favorite season, after all), but then realized that I have one more thing on my summer list: blueberries. With being gone to Mt Rainier, and then being sick once I got back, I have not picked blueberries. I have some blueberry baking to do, so next week I need to get up north to my favorite blueberry farm so I can solve that problem.

Currently Reading
  • Mink River by Brian Doyle - I'm not even 100 pages into this book, but I love it. I was initially put-off by the style of prose, but now I'm hooked. Here's one reason I love this book: 
"Rained gently last night, just enough to wash the town clean, and then today a clean crisp fat spring day, the air redolent, the kind of green minty succulent air you'd bottle if you could and snort greedily on bleak wet January evenings when the streetlights hzzzzt on at four in the afternoon and all existence seems hopeless and sad." page 38
On the Needles
I'm still plugging along on a dishcloth. Since I'm trying to use up some leftover yarn, it's currently half purple and half magenta. I'm running low on the magenta (and I've already used up all of the purple), so it may end up with a light blue stripe at the end. Never matter, I'll put it to good use cleaning up the kitchen counters.

Looking Forward To:
  1. kayaking with family

Friday, August 9, 2013

Mt. Rainier Adventures

I spent a week on Mt. Rainier as part of the "Living with a Volcano in Your Backyard" teacher program. I learned a ton of geology, and a huge lesson on mountain weather. As in, mountain weather can turn faster than you'd think. When it's storming over the Tatoosh range, and you are hiking on the mountain, it's time to book it down to the lodge. And fast. My friend and I got caught in a rain + hail + lightening + thunder storm while hiking down from Panorama Point. By the time we reached the lodge at Paradise we were both soaked through. I believe I had a bit of hypothermia (blue lips, anyone?). On the way down the trail was basically a river of mud. We also crossed an actual river (ok, it was a creek, but it was running fast), and hiked over snow. That morning we had learned about lahars, and how little water is actually required to get one moving. You can imagine the horrors that were going through our heads as we ran-hiked down the mountain. It was intense.

I also saw my first marmot, which was comical. That little guy was not even a meter off the trail, happily munching on lupine plants. He didn't care at all that we stood there, clicking away with our cameras.

I can't wait to take Joe to the mountain and show him all the new places I've been. Panorama Point, Glacier Vista, and Box Canyon are high on my list.

Friday, July 26, 2013

soaking up summer

What's New?
Last week was been a flurry of activity all relating to my new job. I resigned from my old job. I attended a 3-hour orientation for my new job that was more geared towards brand-new teachers than transfers (read: boring). I have about a million papers to fill out, sign, and return. This week I packed up my old classroom and moved into my new classroom. I had wonderful people who helped me pack up and move my things to the new school. Afterwards we celebrated at happy hour with the whole science department at what is now my old school. I will miss those people fiercely. 

While that's quite a lot on my plate, I am extremely excited about this new opportunity. I'm even excited about having to take mass transit to work (the car commute is terrible). Did you hear that? I'm excited about taking the bus! I guess I'm just excited all around. These are all good things.

Yesterday I finally made it down to Alki for a 4 mile walk. I live up a steep hill from the beach, so the return trip can be brutal for an out-of-shape person like me. Fortunately I remembered that there is a free shuttle from the water taxi that runs near my house. Problem solved.

Currently Reading
  • Scatter, Adapt, Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction by Annalee Newitz (apparently this isn't the summer for light reads)
  • I just finished The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, and I haven't cried that much over a book since The Book Thief

On the Needles
I started some dishcloths, trying to use up my leftover cotton yarn. I have a book with 16 different dishcloth patterns. I chose an easy one to knit while distracted by the US version of Being Human. I love that show!

Looking Forward To:
  1. rollerskating
  2. spending a week on Mt. Rainier learning about volcanoes

Monday, July 15, 2013

my new adventure

What's New?
Last week I interviewed for a job at a K-8 environmental science school. At the end of the week I got a call offering me the position. I am now preparing to start a new adventure at a new school! This new position means that I'll get to work with a former colleage who I admire and respect, not to mention who I miss dearly. It will be great getting to work with her again, and getting to try on new things as I help bring more environmental science to my new school.

Joe and I, along with two dear friends, headed south yesterday to hike the Ape Caves at Mt. St. Helens. It was my first visit to the volcano, which was greatly overdue. I can't believe I've driven past this treasure so many times without stopping to check it out. Hiking in the caves was magical: there was complete darkness (we had headlamps and lanterns), an eerie and chilling wind, and amazing rock formations and textures. We hiked the upper caves, which is a 2+ hour hike covering 1.5 miles of boulder piles and one 8 foot high lava fall.

Currently Reading
  • Scatter, Adapt, Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction by Annalee Newitz
  • The Accidental Buddhist: Mindfulness, Enlightenment, and Sitting Still by Dinty Moore - I just finished this book last night. Great read, very thought provoking while not being preach-y.
On the Needles
For the first time in months, there is nothing on the needles! I need to wash & block my Leaflet cardigan before picking up stitches to finish the collar. I think in the meantime I'll start some washcloths to use up my stash of cotton yarn. I love using my hand-made washcloths in the kitchen. Or maybe I'll make some Swiffer covers. I have some ideas for improvements to the design.

Looking Forward To:
  1. new job orientation
  2. camping with friends

Friday, July 5, 2013

deep breaths

What's New?
I spent the last week camping, berry picking and stressing about a job I applied for. Turns out I have an interview coming up, so more stressing is in order. Just kidding (sort of). I do need to take deep breaths, and remember that I have much to offer. The rest is in their hands.

Tomorrow I get to take both cats to the vet for their yearly check-up. That should be an adventure. Afterwards I get to reward myself with rollerskating. Yep, you read that right. Rollerskating. I feel the 80's calling me.

Currently Reading
  • Periodic Tales: The Curious Lives of the Elements by Hugh Aldersey-Williams

On the Needles
My Leaflet cardigan is off the needles! Now it's time for sleeves.

Looking Forward To:
  1. spending time with Luci the dog

Friday, June 28, 2013


What's New?
I cleaned up my 'porch' area today in our 80* Seattle heatwave (I know... just roll with it). I got a new bistro set, and a plant stand for my herbs. Of course, it's too hot outside to sit out there, but I hope to enjoy it soon. Maybe I'll have breakfast outside tomorrow.

I used up all my u-pick strawberries making this jam, this jam, and this tasty dessert. The strawberry-honey jam is by far my favorite. It set up very nicely and has a pure strawberry taste (as opposed to traditional strawberry jam which kind of tastes like strawberries and sugar).

I've been so completely busy the past two weeks, it feels like my summer vacation will never start. I've been working at school on my room and my ProTeach portfolio (which is finally finished!), getting my placement file up-to-date (it's been seven years, after all), and staring at all the projects I need to tackle at home. It's a bit overwhelming, really. I'm going camping next week, which will help me unplug and unwind, and it can't come soon enough. I hope to emerge a more rested and centered person at the end of that trip.

Currently Reading
  • The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb

On the Needles
My Leaflet cardigan is almost finished! I have 10 more rows to complete before starting on the ribbed edge. Then, of course, I still have to do the sleeves, but those will go very quickly as they are only half-sleeves.

Looking Forward To
  1. camping with Kristi & Tyler

Friday, June 21, 2013

sun tea

What's New?
We had some beautiful, warm and sunny days earlier this week, which led me to make my first sun tea of the season. Then yesterday it rained. That's Seattle for you.

I've been accepted to two summer programs for science teachers! Which is great, but there's one problem: they overlap. So after much thought and deliberation, I've decided to attend the week-long Living With a Volcano In Your Backyard program at Mt Rainier, since it will directly impact my teaching next year. I'll reapply for the DIG School next year.

I'm almost finished with my ProTeach work. Just need to scan and attach two artifacts, and get feedback on two textboxes. I can see the finish line!

Currently Reading
  • The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb

On the Needles
My Leaflet cardigan is coming along quite smoothly. I almost finished two repeats of the leaf pattern down the back with the first skein of yarn. I think I'll have quite enough yarn left over from this project to make another sweater. Maybe another February Lady? Maybe something new.

Looking Forward To
  1. heading off for a weekend with friends

Friday, June 14, 2013

across the finish line

What's New?
If you have a teacher in your life, you know that the school year is akin to a marathon race. Making it through June feels like you've crossed the finish line. Sometimes it's triumphant, sometimes it's nostalgic, and often it feels like you are dragging yourself across. No matter how well the school year goes, that last push to get to the end is often exhausting. And you know what? I think that's okay. I think it's just part of the process. Life has seasons, and the school year does as well. Fall is full of enthusiasm, hope and great expectations. Winter is the mid-point when many students finally come into their own and show improvement. And Spring is that last, often mad dash towards the lazy days of summer.

Currently Reading
  • Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein

On the Needles
I'm still working on my Leaflet cardigan, although this week I think I might have only knit 3 or 4 rows. Now that school is out I expect to make much more progress on my knitting.

Looking Forward To
  1. picking strawberries
  2. making jam

Friday, June 7, 2013

potstickers & teaching

What's New?
While I've been away from this space, I've been experimenting with making dumplings. I started with Smitten Kitchen's Spring Vegetable Potstickers and I've branched out to more traditional pork & cabbage stuffed wontons. I like how quickly they come together, and how quickly they cook. It's made weeknight meals so much easier.

The other news is that school is almost out! Next week is a 4-day week, with Thursday being the last day of school. I know I say this all the time, but I really don't know where April and May went. I swear March was just a few days ago. Part of that, I know, is that I've had a student-teacher the past couple months. The other part of that is how busy life gets in the Spring, especially when you're a teacher.

Currently Reading
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Why is Milk White? & 200 Other Curious Chemistry Questions by Alexa Coelho & Simon Field

On the Needles
I started a green Leaflet cardigan with my new birthday yarn (Thanks Marya & Alex!). Even though I try to do smaller projects, I just love knitting cardigans. I'm using Berroco Ultra Alpaca Tonal yarn, which is not single-ply (I'm swearing off single-ply yarn - it just doesn't show stitches as well). The Leaflet pattern is another by Cecily Glowik MacDonald, who is quickly becoming my favorite cardigan designer.

Looking Forward To
  1. finishing up this school year
  2. cleaning and organizing my classroom for next year

Sunday, June 2, 2013

tour of my garden

This post is mostly for my parents, who live much too far away to see my garden in person. 

I live in an apartment, so my garden is partly in containers, and partly in raised beds. Directly outside my door you'll find herbs that I use in the kitchen (two types of thyme, rosemary, parsley and chives). The long skinny container was just planted with a lettuce mix.


Next to the front door I have two types of tomatoes and a scrawny lingonberry bush I bought from the blueberry farm last year. It's pretty much the same size as it was last year.

Around the corner from my front door are two raised beds. They are surrounded by netting to discourage the neighborhood cats from using them as litter boxes. In the first bed I planted winter squash, leeks, broccoli, cucumber, kale, more chives, strawberries and carrots (clockwise from top left). I also planted some snap peas along the back that will eventually climb up the trellis.

In the second bed I planted celery, more kale (diff. variety), more broccoli (diff. variety), and pumpkin in the back row. The front row has green onions and more pumpkin. I left two spots open in the front row in case something strikes my fancy and I need a place to put it.

Well, there you have it. That's my apartment garden.

Memorial Day Weekend

Joe and I headed out to the peninsula for a weekend getaway in sunny Sequim, WA. It ended up as a cloudy and rainy weekend, but we still had a good time. Besides exploring the sleepy town of Sequim, we stayed in a converted caboose and hiked along the Dungeness Sand Spit. The sand spit is a 5 mile hike from the base to the lighthouse at the tip. The terrain is an uneven sand/rock mixture that makes it truly a hike. We made it about halfway before realizing we'd need to turn around so that we'd make the trip back. Joe longingly held out hope that if we made it all the way to the lighthouse there would be a shuttle back. There is no shuttle.