Monday, October 28, 2013

The Dynamic Duo Does It Again

When I posted the other day about my friend Bernina and her sidekick Theotherbernina, I mentioned that my friend j-ster thought that it was weird that I was excited to get sewing machines as college graduation presents. I also said that she has benefited greatly from that "unusual" gift over the years.

What I didn't mention is some of the crackpot things we have made with those machines.  She comes up with the idea, we discuss how it might be feasible with my skills and then we make do.  We cut corners, cheat, and do wild things that no professional would dream of doing.  But, I am not a professional seamstress, so I wing it.

I haven't made anything with her in a quite a while, and when she asked if I could help make a Very Hungry Caterpillar costume for her son, I said yes.  She had found a site that gave directions for a costume and when she came to my house, I was relieved that she didn't really like way it was done and had her own ideas.  I didn't like the original either.

It's cold here on Halloween, so she wanted to make it out of fleece.  The thing that bothered both of us about the pattern online was that it was very flat.  Kind of like an empty sack that was gathered in a few places.  We wanted segments, like that caterpillar would actually have.

Between us, we determined that we could cut each segment, doubled, and sew them together so they created channels.

The greens are much better, my camera was acting weird for these first couple of pictures.

Then we stuffed the channels with fiberfill.

We worried the whole time about how we would do the neck.  We didn't have her son with us, which I will say was a downer because it affected a couple of things.  You really need to have access to the kid if you are going to do this.  She wanted to have the segments go up to his underarms and then  make some straps to hold it on.  I didn't like that idea because it seemed like the straps would detract from the whole idea and I thought we would be able to make a smaller segment at the neck and cinch it closed and create armholes.

So, the last two segments were about 1.5 inches narrower than the others so it would gradually get thinner and then the neck was one of the 1.5 inches I had cut from the dark green.

 I was very proud of myself for sticking in a ribbon so that it could be gathered and tied at his neck when t's on.

The one thing we liked about the pattern online was the way the ribbons were sewn into the back to make the colorful bits at the top of the caterpillar.  As I was putting the right sides together to make the back seam, I pinned in the colorful ribbon and was surprised they actually stood up when it was it was assembled.  I would have used thicker ribbon, but this was cheaper and when we doubled it, it gave it some heft.

The next part was dealing with the armholes.  If we had had her son here from the beginning, I would have cut armholes right into the channels before stuffing them and I would have made a nice edge.  In my head, I know exactly how it would have worked.  But, with him not here, we didn't want to guess and then get them in an awkward place.  I figured we would just have to cut them later and sew them closed.

He came by as we were finishing and we did the armholes and I'm really glad we didn't just guess where his arms would be.  I cut into the outside layer, pushed aside the stuffing, cut through the inside layer and then kind of folded the front over the inside with a whipstitch.  It's my least favorite part of this because it's not as nice looking as the rest but it's under his arms so no one should notice.

Her mother crocheted a red hat and then she glued felt or fleece "eyes" on it and put some pipe cleaner antennae.

Don't you just love how it's so puffy?  We didn't really even stuff it that much.  And it's so thick, this could go naked under it and be warm.  And because of that puffiness, it got a lot smaller and just fits him.  We had thought we would have to cut it down and I'm really glad we didn't or it would have been a total waste.

We also thought it would be a perfect way to make a bumble bee costume.

So, without any actual dimensions because each kid is different and because I was too lazy to be specific as we did it, here's what I did.  This isn't my sister's blog where actual geometry and math was done.

You don't come here for precision, anyway!

Cut 2 strips of dark green and 2 of light green (be sure to double them).  Cut one each of light green and dark green that is 1.5 inches smaller than the other 4 (double these too).  Use one of those 1.5 inch strips you cut off for the neck.

Sew a hem on the bottom segment to close it.  Sew each segment (the doubled pieces) to each other and then stuff them so it looks like a raft!

I would have cut the armholes into the segments that are appropriate and sew the curves closed so that it makes a nicer product.  I am not really happy with the way I did the arms, especially the second one because it was bigger than I wanted.

Slip a ribbon into the neck segment but don't let that get sewn up as you sew your spine seam.  I left it open so the ribbon could cinch it closed.

Cut your ribbons that you want for the spine and as you pin the wrong sides of the costume together , slip the ribbons into the seam so you will lock them into place.  We just randomly did the colors.  Sew the seam closed.

Ta-da for my part!  We should take this creativity on the road, I know.

I could have made a fleece hat but wasn't sure how I would do it, so it was great that her mother made the crocheted version.

Linking up here:

Thursday, October 24, 2013

How I Torture K-ster

My favorite meal is chicken soup.  I especially like the way my mother makes it but I like my version too.

I always thought it took a whole day to prepare but I've since learned a quick way to make it.

Today, I was really craving soup and didn't want to take the time to make it.  I went to the store and looked at every kind of chicken soup available and all of them have crazy sodium and weird ingredients.  I was most sad to see MSG as an ingredient.

I decided to bite the bullet and make it myself, but I was pretty hungry, so I had to nibble along the way.

My Chicken Soup:

A couple of chicken breasts
6-12 carrots
half a bunch of celery
onions (which I completely forgot tonight!)
chicken stoc

I don't use bouillon because it always gets funny with moisture before I use it and I don't like to put a bunch of sodium like that into my soup.  I like chicken stock better.

I cut the chicken into bite size pieces and toss them into the pan with oil and cook them.  Then I cut up the carrots and celery ( and onion when I remember) and toss them in.  I let it cook for a while and then add the chicken stock and bring it to a boil.  Then I let it simmer until I'm ready.  It could be an hour or several hours.

I don't usually put rice or noodles in because I find that it gets kind of thick and gelatinous from all the starch.  Today, I had a bunch of rice left over, so I did.  I have also made noodles later and added them when I ate it but didn't put it in the whole sound.

I always make plenty to store for later and will freeze it if I have enough.

So how do I torture k-ster?  He hates it.  He hates soup.  He hates chicken soup.  I haven't really figured it out.  I think it might be the celery he hates and not the soup.  I make a chicken dish that has a lot of celery in it and is definitely NOT soup and he usually tells me it smells like soup and he doesn't like it.

I love celery so it's really hard for me to imagine not using it.

I've tried bribing him with some delicious rolls but it doesn't work.  He see right through my rolls and reminds me that soup isn't a meal because he's just drinking his meal if he eats soup.  No man can just have soup for supper, he says.


All the more for me, I guess!

Linking here:

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Finding My Old Friend

Do you know my friend Bernina?  She's been around since I graduated from college and she's tireless.  We've done some wild things together. 

When I graduated from college, my mother gave her to me and my grandmother gave me the serger.

Also a Bernina.  I think they might have both been floor models so they got a great deal on them both.  I remember my friend j-ster thinking it was a ridiculous gift for graduation from college when I didn't major in home ec!  She wasted no time taking advantage of my skill with these machines and I've made her and her family no end of things with these machines.  Including fixing a ripped seam on brand new jeans that her husband "blew out" playing kickball at work.

I love them.  I especially love the sewing machine because it's not plastic.  It's the real deal.  So few machines are made of metal anymore, even the high quality brands. I swear I got the last model made out of metal or maybe it's ceramic?  I don't know, it's something heavy and cool and very smooth and definitely not plastic.  When I touch it, it just inspires me to want to sew things and do a really nice job!

The serger has a lot more plastic.  It's all plastic, actually.  I like it because it finishes things so nicely and gives them a professional look.  I have no real idea what I can do with it except finish seams because I didn't take the lessons that came with it, which my mother is probably still mad about.

My sister is a wizard with her serger and I should probably learn something from her some day.  She has an elasticizer.  I wouldn't even know where to start with that! 

I can't even recount the tales of  all of the things I've made with these suckers, but they've made at least a million curtains for myself and others, quilts up the wazoo, clothes, outdoor pillows, indoor pillows and endless repairs of things for me and for others.

And one time?  20 pairs of mariachi sleeves for the high school Winter Percussion Team.  That was probably the most bizarre thing I ever made with them.  I bought red, orange and yellow polyester, cut them into strips and serged them in black so the color would pop.  Then I took a pattern for a long sleeve dress, cut out just the sleeves on muslin, gathered the strips and sewed them to the sleeves.   It was like a clown convention exploded all over my sewing room.  Then the girls tacked the sleeves onto their black leotards.

Wow, just thinking about the project makes my head spin.  It must have taken FOREVER.  I can't remember, I just remember I made a pretty penny and it was cheaper for them than renting them.

I go through phases where I sew like crazy and then many months go by and I don't even look at my machines.  Part of that is because I keep them set up in a room upstairs which is really hot in the summer and really cold in the winter.  There's about a 2 week window in spring and fall that are ideal for sewing and otherwise, it's just too hot or too cold.  I can turn on the heat in the winter but I always feel guilty wasting the heat in such a poorly insulated part of the house.

I like having them set up so I don't have the excuse that they are all put away and it would be too much hassle to get them out, and I'm glad I have a room where I can do that, but it's perpetually cluttered.  I have no cabinets there either a running theme in my life so everything is just everywhere.

So after last week's curtains, I decided I should get right on to the pillow covers that I told someone at school I would make.  Many years ago, I made her covers like this from some curtains she had.

She loves the ships and there were a couple on each curtain so I finagled a way to cut them so she could have a ship on each pillow.

This is the same woman who had me make the mariachi sleeves.  She believes that I am a genius with the sewing machine.  Anyone who knows anything about my skills knows that pillow covers are something a monkey could make and those sleeves were only genius in the way I decided to make them, not in how they were actually created.  Again, if I had shown a monkey, he could have done it.

Over time, the ship pillows faded, so her daughter found her some fun fabric that I almost stole and I said I'd make her another set but she had to get it to me right away because I was on a sewing roll.

I have no use for this fabric in my house because it's orange.  Otherwise I might have told her I'd lost it somehow and just kept it for myself.  I'm not sure what color I would like, maybe a red and white.  Does it look like seaweed or coral to you?

She had enough for 4 pillows.  She hoped to get a bolster out of it too but a) she doesn't have a form and b) I will have to do something creative to make that work from the scraps, without having it look like a bunch of scraps.  She envisions a long bolster but the longest I could find at the fabric store is 14 inches and I think she was looking for more like double that.   I had a vision of getting two forms and wrapping some batting around the center so there wouldn't be a line but we all know there would ALWAYS be a divot in the middle.

I make envelopes from the fabric so the pillows can just pop right in and not have a gap in the back.  It's easier than trying to put in velcro or zippers.  Inevitably, I do something ridiculous with at least one cover and end up spending way more time than I should when I make them.  I usually hem up the wrong side and I did it TWICE this time.

A monkey would probably not do that.

Linking here:

Monday, October 21, 2013

It's Curtains!

When I first moved into this house, I made cute red curtains for the kitchen.  We have dark wood trim, so red seemed to work really well.  I have this idea that red must go with dark trim because together, they make a warm aura.

I just lost like 2 readers for that statement, didn't I?

I only made valances because I like as much light as possible in every room and this one tends to be a little dark.  Plus, no one runs naked through the kitchen so we don't need privacy.

Not that anyone runs naked through any other room in the house either.  Don't get too excited.

When I decided it was time for new curtains, k-ster somehow convinced me to go with blue.  Since he never says anything about decor, I figured I'd indulge him and I went with a blue plaid.  It just never made me happy.  It always looked cold to me and my dish towels didn't match.

It's time again for new curtains and I decided not to consult with k-ster this time.  I spend the most time in the kitchen because k-ster has deemed it the coldest room in the house with the most uncomfortable chairs.  Therefore, I should pick a curtain color that pleases me.

Which, as you guessed is red.

When I first made them, they were twice as long and way too long for these windows.  They cast an eerie darkness in the room, yet they were see through because I hadn't lined them.  It's actually a pretty flimsy fabric, which I did not realize when I bought it.  That meant that you could see the hems and they looked like crap.

I quickly decided that I could bring the hem all the way up to the bottom seam of the channel for the curtain rod.  This was a great idea because it made them more opaque so you can't see the hem, it made them shorter which works much better for this kitchen and it sucked up even more of my time that I was supposed to be using to write my goals for school!

And it allowed for a little bit out poofiness without having to put fabric balls or anything inside.  

See those Christmas lights in the bottom picture?  I put those up about 6 or or years ago for a party and we have never taken them down or used them again.  Every time I look at them, which is surprisingly not very often given that I'm in this room many times every day, I think about taking them down and then don't.

I'm so weird like that.

It's been a week since round 1 of these curtains went up, with the extra length, and k-ster has not said a word.  I bet he hasn't even noticed.  He checks this blog about once a month, so it's a race to see whether he figures it out himself first or finds it out because he's been reading up.

Linking here:

Friday, October 18, 2013

Last Weekend's Wedding

Don't get excited, it wasn't my wedding.

Last weekend, K-ster and I went to a wedding for my last high school friend that wasn't married.  It was in the middle of the state, in a town I have never been to before and hope to God I never have to go to EVER again.  Added to the overall bleakness of the town was the fact that it was drizzly at the moment of the wedding and the surrounding buildings were gothic looking, so I felt like I was in a horror movie.

Or at a funeral.

Or at the very least, an extra for a Stephen King film.

The wedding was a 4pm wedding at an armory.  I wasn't sure what to expect.  When I think of armory, I think of the only one I've been to:  the Higgins Armory when I was in 6th grade.  I could not have been more bored on that field trip and it has forever left me with the vision of knights and armor whenever I hear or see the word armory.

This particular armory didn't have a website of its own but it was listed on a lot of events sites.  Still picturing lots of metal suits, I could not imagine why any girl would choose to get a married in a place like that and none of the websites had pictures of the inside, just the outside which was very factory-like.

Or maybe armory-like.

Added to the unknowns of the location of the wedding is that fact that I had never met the bride!  He's been with her for like 4 years and for reasons none of us can figure out, I had never laid eyes on the girl.  And therefore, I knew none of her family or friends which meant a vast amount of people I had never seen before.

I wasn't sure what this all would be like.  I knew there would be some high school friends there, but I couldn't really imagine what kind of wedding it would be.  At first, I figured it would be a casual wedding, because it was at an armory (?) so I wasn't exactly going to wear jeans, but for some reason, a fancy dress and a suit for k-ster wasn't really in my plan.

Until someone forwarded me a note from their website that said that we should all wear our finest finery, i.e. cocktail attire.

So, I went back to my old green standby, the one that I have worn to no less than 5, possibly as many as 7 different weddings.  And k-ster wore a suit.

And off we went.

The armory turned out to be a senior center.  The reception was in their gym.  While you are probably imagining something akin to a high school prom in a gym, what made this gym better than most (for a fancy event) was that they had painted all of the metalwork white.  That made it brighter and bigger looking and not so factory-like.  With the strings of lights, it was pretty.  There was no doubt it was a gym, with the shuffleboard courts on the floor, but it was lovely for the evening.

The ceremony was outside, which I did not know, and since it was raining, my hair that I had actually done something with completely fell apart.  It wasn't a steady rain, just a continuous misty drizzle and I had not brought an umbrella, so I was SOL.

I was amazed at the number of people I did not know at the wedding.  I know the groom well and many of his family and family friends but apparently the bride has lots of family and friends and the two of them together have friends I don't know.  A few times, I wasn't sure I was even at the right event!

The band was great, the food was great, and the favor was different.  Instead of the cheesy favors that so many people give at weddings, this couple put out a bunch of drinking glasses of all types.  Everyone was supposed to select one to use for the night and then to take home so that when we use them in the future, we remember them.  If you got to the table early, you were lucky enough to score a matching pair, as k-ster and I did.  Others were walking around with champagne in iced tea glasses which was entertaining.

There was a variety of people from high school at this wedding.  This is all of us who graduated together, except for one who was standing and looking and us but no one realized it was him and didn't ask him to join!  And now that I look, I wonder where p-ster was during this picture (see, you knew I'd work you in somehow, p-ster!)!  So, I guess it wasn't all of us who graduated together because at least 2 of "us" were at large during this photo opp.

The groom is the farthest to the left.   At this point in the wedding, I STILL had not met the bride!

Imagine that my hair had a cute curl/wave to it before the rain hit it....

A closer look:

Sorry, too close?

K-ster tried to jump in and we firmly told him that since he wasn't cool enough to go to our high school, he had to sit this one out.

I let him be in this picture with me, though.

Because if I had just had someone take a picture of me alone, that would have been weird, right?

See the shuffleboard court over my shoulder?

Linking here: 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Facing The Bread Aisle

Since my birthday last year, I have been making bread, rolls, and pizza dough at least once a week.  Some weeks, I've made all three, others I haven't made any.  But we can safely say I've used it at least 52 times in almost a year.

I've been really pleased with the quality of the breads and doughs, but recently, I noticed there were some scratches on the inside.  This is completely preposterous because I have made super sure to NEVER touch it with anything sharp or with any metal.

And I don't need to because the dough or bread just falls right out every time.

I clean it with a sponge only.

I follow the directions religiously.

And most recently, I noticed this.

At the bottom of the baking pan, both sides have some serious rubbing going on and what looks like rust but might actually be bread crumbs.  This does not please me, mostly because I want to know where the coating has gone!  Have we been eating it?

My sister has the same breadmaker and it's almost 2 years old.  She has some scratches inside that she knows she made because of some silverware being tossed into it in the sink but she has no signs of this rubbing and she also makes bread or dough at least once a week.

I checked the paddle to see if it's rubbing and from what I can tell, it's not.  I don't even put nuts or other ingredients in that could do this rubbing.

So, I made the call and explained my dilemma.  Since it was a gift and I don't have a receipt, they aren't too happy, but  JUST THIS ONE TIME, they will look at it and most likely send me a new one.

In the mean time, I, like most of you, have to actually buy bread in the grocery store.

There's no way I am going to make bread the old fashioned way, kneading and punching the dough every 2 seconds.   Come on.  I am no pioneer, here.

Now, before anyone gets crazy, let's talk about the grocery store in the US vs France.  In France, the grocery store generally has a stinky smell.  I never know if it's the meat, the fish or the cheeses, but it's not an olfactory pleasure to go to the grocery in France.   Not even in the "hypermarche" which is like Costco or BJs, where you'd think the space would just allow the smells to vanish.  It all pretty much smells like a bathroom.

In the US, most grocery stores don't have a particularly awful smell when you walk through the door, but I can't be alone in noticing the smell of each aisle.

Produce smells like vegetables.

Florist smells like plants forced to grow with a million chemicals.

The potato chips, crackers and cereals aisles smell like cardboard.

The canned good aisles and the juice aisles don't really have a smell that I can recall.  Shocking!

The deli smells like a deli, usually like roast chicken because they are roasting chickens right on site.

The meat sections usually smell like blood, especially when they are cutting meat.

The pet food aisle either smells like cat litter or dry dog food.

The chilled section smells cool.

The bakery smells like frosting or baking bread.

But, the trauma of the bread aisle was almost too much last night.  Because do you know what's in the bread aisle?

The smell of bread.  And not the good kind like you smell when someone's cooking bread.  Oh no.  It's the smell of store bought bread in a bag.  The smell that is almost making me gag as I type this.   The smell of untoasted English muffins.  Have you ever tried eating an English muffin that wasn't toasted?  The foulest taste you can imagine.  And the smell never leaves my nose.

I can smell the bread aisle from 3 aisles away.  I used to be able to avoid it but they rearranged the store and all of the baking needs are on one side of the aisle and the bread is on the other.  So, whenever I need flour, sugar or something else to bake with, I have to face the bread aisle.  And it seems to be the narrowest aisle in the store.

And last night, I had to actually choose bread to purchase in that bread aisle.

It's going to be a rough couple of weeks until I get my bread pan back!

Linking here:

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Seeing Things in 3D

In an unprecedented move, I suggested to k-ster that we go to the movies and see that Sandra Bullock/George Clooney movie Gravity.  And see it in 3D, please.

I think k-ster and I have been to the movies together 3 times.  Total.  In 17 years.  I don't like to go to the movie theater.  Mostly because it's so expensive but also because I used to find them really uncomfortable.  And usually, the movies suck and I leave feeling really aggravated that someone just spent that much money to watch something unfun.

Remember when we had to wait about a year before a movie was available on videotape?  Now it's like a month, so I can usually wait for a movie to come out and get it on netflix.

The drive-in is totally worth it, however, and we try to go there every summer.  We never went this summer because there were never 2 movies that we both wanted to see and if you're going to go, you really need to see both movies or it's just pointless.

Last night's seats weren't too bad because they actually rocked a little and weren't so high in the back that they pushed my head forward like airplane seats.  It also wasn't very crowded and we got there really early, so we had a choice of seats.  And thankfully, no one seemed to be eating popcorn in our theater, so I didn't have to smell or hear it which was a HUGE plus.

I knew we'd pay more than the usual rate because we'd get these super stylish glasses, but I have never seen anything in 3D and I felt like this movie could only be seen in 3D or it would just be dumb.    It's outer space!  There must be lots of 3 dimensional things that I simply must see with these glasses!

Remember the Michael Jackson 3D movie from our youth?  With those crazy paper glasses with one lens that was red and one that was blue?  I remember seeing them in commercials but alas, didn't care about Michael Jackson, so I never had the pleasure of looking like a doofus with the rest of the crowd.  I just never felt the need to feel like Mr. Jackson was reaching out to touch me.

Or  gyrate right in my face.

Or, God help me, drip his super wet looking hair on me.

Weren't there other 3D movies in the 80s too?  For the life of me, I can't remember any, but there must have been more than just the Michael Jackson one, right?

Anyway, this is not a sponsored review, but I'll give my unsolicited 2 cents about the movie since that's pretty much what I do with everything.

The previews that were on before the film were also in 3D, so I guess the Hobbit movie, a cartoon movie called Nut Job, some movie about Thor that I swear had Brad Pitt in it and some other movie we previewed will all be in 3D.  I have to say that the 3D in some of those previews had me more spellbound than the 3D in the actual movie.

I imagined that because they were in space, the need for 3D would be huge because we'd need to feel as though we were floating out there beyond earth, with the characters.  And in the beginning, there was a ton of 3D-ness that indeed the glasses allowed us to see.  Bolts flying off right into the audience.  A wild, spellbinding, tumbling scene where I actually almost had to put my head down because I was feeling "funny".

When I was younger, we went to EPCOT and "circlevision" was all the rage.  Each "country" in EPCOT had a movie screen in the round where you stood in the middle and felt like you were flying with birds and moving with whatever you were watching.  And you had to stand, not sit.  Those things just about killed me and I had to wait outside.  I am not a motion kind of person and those circles of movies are NOT for me!

I was kind of afraid the 3D might have the same effect.  But, other than the wild scene in the beginning, it didn't have the same nauseating effect.  Either I got used to it, there was less 3D action going on, or things calmed down.  I think it might have been a combination of all 3.

A few times, I took my glasses off to see what was on the screen.  It was the same stuff, just kind of blurry.  So, it would not be fun to see this version without the 3D glasses.

The movie was good, probably farfetched but I don't know much about what goes on in space these days as far as jetpacking around the solar system.  There aren't a lot of characters but they aren't really necessary.  I had read somewhere that the dialogue was minimal but I don't agree.  There is plenty of dialogue throughout. 

It completely reaffirmed my belief that I do not belong in space.  EVER.  I don't like to spin, tumble or go fast.  I can barely swing on a playground.  

K-ster, on the other hand, would go tomorrow and never come back if offered the chance.  The faster, spinnier and wildly out of control, the better for him.

They also make a non 3D version.  Since I wasn't blown away by the power of the 3D, I think I could have been just as happy sitting at home in my non 3D living room and I would have enjoyed the movie just as much.  As k-ster said, space is kind of empty, so there isn't much 3D needed.

Again, I don't know much about space.

Now, the Hobbit movie that we previewed, which I will not see because I hated the book and do not like fantasy, did have some spectacular 3D.  The kind where butterflies are coming right at you and you're in the caves and buildings with the people and you're actually IN the scenery.

This was not really the case with Gravity, except for a few scenes.

It was fun to go out and see a movie though it will probably be another decade before I am so inclined.  It was the 3D that lured me.  I didn't want to miss anything on my flat, very old TV.  And those stylish glasses.  

I secretly coveted  a pair of my very own.

The theater was fairly dead for a Friday night, I thought.  But, I don't have much to compare it to.  I went to a movie once on a rainy afternoon at this same theater and it was a mob scene.  Definitely no mobs last night.  Is this what's happening to the movie world?  Everyone just waits to see it at home?  Or is it still cool to go to the movies?  

With the prices for tickets and any concessions (of course we didn't get any food or drink!  I'm only so adventurous!) how can anyone even afford it anymore?   Do you afford movies out or do you just wait to see them at home?

Linking here: 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Mrs. Thoreson Pants

In first grade, we all had the same teacher, Mrs. Thoreson.  She was a character and in my mind's eye, she was sort of elegant, in an Olive Oyle sort of way.  Tall and thin, grandmotherly and probably stylish.

I don't know, I was busy cheating in first grade.  I snuck my spelling book into my lap and got caught and then had to stand at the board and write them during recess, without my book.  Want to know the words?  I'll never forget them:  apple, channel, canal.  Ok, I forgot the rest but I remember those very vividly.

Anycheater, Mrs. Thoreson seemed to always have her act together and though she never wore pants such as these, my sister and I have come to call them the Mrs. Thoreson pants.

Maybe she did wear them in the spring.  On no, wait, she couldn't have because we weren't allowed to wear pants in the spring and fall at our school.  Just in the winter.

Mrs. Thoreson was way too stylish to try to wear white in winter.  She made it her job to wear about as many bangles as she could get on her arms.   Then, when she wrote on the board, or led us singing in the morning, she was a one man band with all of that jingling.

When my sister made these for Bean, something about them made me think of a skinny, fashionable lady, smoking Capri cigarettes and drinking a gin and tonic.  They made her think of Mrs. Thoreson.

I was cracking up today when a-ster sent me a text with Bean wearing these pants today because I was wearing these.

They aren't as loose as Bean's, so they don't quite have the same elegant lady smoking Capris feel, and I am definitely sure that Mrs. Thoreson did not wear leggings in any color, but especially not white.

When I bought these leggings, the woman in the store had them on and they were not tight at the bottom.  They were more like a stretch capri.  She insisted they were the same pants but they aren't.

I like this outfit together but sometimes, it seems a little risque because it's not a very long tunic.  Just long enough to cover my butt.  I think if I were taller, it would be inappropriate but once again, being short pays off!

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Saturday, October 5, 2013

This Just In

Sparkling, who has been employed as a French teacher for all these years, does indeed speak French!  Details below.

Recently, while dining with colleagues (some now former), the discussion turned to Sparking's new life with the elementary kids.  They discussed the funny side of 9 and 10 year olds, how babyish they can be at this age, how the teachers have to walk them to and from everywhere in the building, and that is where the topic of what Sparkling actually does came into play.

One colleague remarked at how nice the room looks, now that there's some purple in there, and the posters are up and there's finally a cabinet!  As the teachers arrive to pick up their kids, Sparkling lines the kids up at the door and when she has finished, she says au revoir and off they go.

Occasionally, though she insists it's very rare, she is not completely finished the moment the teacher arrives to pick up a class, so sometimes, a teacher will hang out at the door or come inside and listen for  minute.

In one such instance, a long time friend and colleague, one who Sparkling says she thanks God was moved to the new school with her, came a few minutes early because she was collecting her students for an assessment and she didn't have anywhere to be at that moment.  While Sparkling felt a little uneasy with yet another adult in her room observing (it's a revolving door of adults coming into the room when you're in the elementary school), she carried on and did her French speaking thing.

It was this friend who made the following statement at their dinner:  "ya know, I've always known you teach French and I'm sure you  know what you're doing, but I didn't realize until I came to this school that you actually speak French!  It's so neat to walk by your room, or sit in for a minute, and hear you actually speaking French, like it's what you're supposed to do!"

So there you have it.  The French teacher speaks French.

Like it's her job.

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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Little Kids Give Me The Heebie Geebies

I was trained to be an elementary school teacher.  I did my student teaching in kindergarten and spent hours right on the floor with kids, surrounded by their every germ.  .  I made sure to wash my hands but didn't worry about catching anything because I didn't eat until my hands were washed.  Like religiously.

It never fazed me

Not even on my first day of solo teaching when a little girl threw up all over her coat in the coat room.  I just handed her to a parent volunteer and kept going :)  Ah, the bonus of parent volunteers in the kindergarten classroom.

Somehow, I don't remember a single outbreak of lice during any of my student teaching or school visits during my 4 years of college.

After almost 2 decades in the middle school, I'd forgotten what 4th and 5th graders are like.  By middle school, most kids are good about covering when they cough or sneeze and thankfully, in my 17 years, not one kid threw up in my classroom.  I  had one boy faint and that was all of the excitement I ever had to deal with.

We had a lice issue every year, but it always seemed to be just an occasional kid that had it and never something to worry about.  No one ever rubbed their bug riddled head on me and I never had the occasion to touch a student's hairbrush.

Life was grand.

Already, about 20 days into the new school year, we've had several cases of head lice already.  4 kids in one class!!  And since I see every one of them, I am appalled.  Horrified.  Practically mainlining Rid or whatever the lice killer du jour might be.  (I'm sure the little buggers are totally resistant to whatever it was that killed them when we were younger.)

I am about to douse my head in kerosene each morning and wear tight braids 24/7.

Apparently we are not alone, because Kerry talks about it over here today.

I just don't remember lice being much of an issue when we were little.  I vaguely remember there being talk about it and I think I remember my mother freaking out that one of us MIGHT have lice but I don't know that I remember any of us having it or being treated for it.

To add to my constant vigilance about germs and now lice, I must also figure out how to keep kids away from me.  They hug.  They want to be CLOSE to me an each other.

They are slimy little buggers.

Again, by middle school, kids know that personal space is necessary and hugging is highly discouraged.  But at the age of 10?  Nothing wrong with bursting out in the middle of class with "I LOVE FRENCH" and throwing your arms around my waist.

I have to pause here and remind you that I just said WAIST.  That's right.  These kids are small enough that I am actually taller than they are and some kids ACTUALLY only come up to my waist!

They also don't cover when they cough or sneeze.  Or they start to cover but forget to close the bottom of their hands.

I can't wait for the throwing up season.  How many personal days can I take?

I'm not a custodian, but ours don't clean the tables in classrooms, so I've taken to spraying them with vinegar every day.   Let me clarify.  I spray the tables, not the custodians.

We have these rules about what cleaners we can have in the classroom and we have to fill out some form if we bring any, so I'm trying the old vinegar as a disinfectant route.

I don't know if it is working or will work at all but it's making my head feel a little better.  Plus, it's really gross to see a table when the light hits just right and there are a million greasy fingerprints all over it.  And there's the added bonus that today's marker mess will get cleaned up when I wipe it down with vinegar.

If I could just spray their heads with it....

I'm off to create some sort of bird cage-like device to wear so that everyone keeps the eff away from me.

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