Friday, December 31, 2010

Get Inspired!

Saw this amazing video on someone else's blog and found it highly inspiring! Enjoy...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Making Crayons for Christmas gifts!

Working as a third-grade classroom teacher, I go through a lot of supplies. Last year, we went through a lot of crayons and I didn't know what to do with the old ones. I didn't want to throw them out of course. So I looked online about some ways to reuse them and found you could recreate crayons in muffin tin form! Perfect for some of my nieces and nephews!

I bought a cheap muffin tin at Christmas Tree Shop and went to work. First you peel off the paper, which is the most time-consuming part of the process. Note that it's MUCH easier to do with the larger, chunkier crayons.

Then you simply break the crayons up into the muffin tin. I decided to go with a rainbow effect, so I combined usually just two colors, such as orange and yellow...

Then you bake at about 200 degrees for maybe seven minutes. Take them out carefully and let them set for a bit. (I let mine sit about 15 minutes before placing them outside in the cold air to set more quickly.)

Then (here's the really fun part) pop those suckers out!

Here's the final product!

The one above was rotated correctly in iPhoto, but for some reason the rotation didn't translate to the blog.

Crayons are now wrapped up and ready to go!

Sunday, October 31, 2010


Last night I tried a new recipe for Rhubarb Apple Crisp that made my husband love rhubarb for the first time. As I mentioned earlier, this plant has traveled a bit and bursts forth with history each spring. It used to be in my grandparents' yard, many many years ago. They split the rooty-tuber part and gave half to my father. (It's apparently very easy to break up like that and it recovers as if nothing had happened.) Ryan and I moved into our home in September of 2008 and dug up the ground the following spring to make our lovely garden. Dad surprised us with half of the rhubarb tuber from his garden. We promptly planted the oddity in the ground, wondering if that dead looking thing was actually going to grow. I'm telling you, NOTHING, save maybe an asparagus shoot, looks as strange as a rhubarb plant unfurling out of the ground. It looks wrinkled and cabbage-y and then keeps unwrapping itself each day, when the rest of the garden is still brown and dormant. Kind of like the vegetable rooster of the garden. "Wake up!" shouts to the pea, spinach, and arugula seeds, who blink their eyes a few times and follow suit.

I picked the very last of the rhubarb to put in the crisp, and once cooked, it had that fevery-slightly-naughty taste to it. And as I ate it, I felt so connected to my Gramma, who may have made the same dessert and closed her eyes as we did, enjoying every gooey bite. This plant, I suppose, could continue to pass endless down through each generation. What a fun down-to-earth legacy that would be!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

First Post

What a non-creative title, eh? But, as I tell my third-grade students, you need to start somewhere, so just get it down on paper with no judgment, then play around with it later if you feel like it. (By the way, my group this year LOVES Writer's Workshop. It's such a joy to see them scamper and sometimes trip over each other in their rush to get writing. Maybe their enthusiasm is what has inspired me to practice what I continually preach!)

I love what I do. I love my home. I love my family. My husband rocks. Our little home in Framingham makes me smile and shake my head at how I ended up with my own house at last. How did I get so lucky? A little over a year ago, though, I still felt like there was something key missing. And I realized -- duh -- it was the little kid me, who craved getting her extremities covered in fingerpaint. It sounds very "inner child" but the true stuff often is pretty hokey.

So I began exploring a bit. Ryan, my amazingly supportive husband, knew I had been on the fence about taking a watercolor course at the art museum in Framingham. Should I spend that much money on something so impractical? Yes! No. Yes! No. One day he looked at me sheepishly and said, "Promise not to be mad?" (Never a good opener.) Knowing I needed a push, he had signed me up for the course behind my back. Sneaky thing. :)

The course was spectacular, and I felt that wonderful time-is-lost feeling when I put brush to thick paper. I began reading and doing The Artist's Way book, which has its odd points but was/is overall amazingly fun and helpful in pulling me back to who I used to be. I took another course the following spring on drawing anatomy and made incredible progress under the able direction of my very patient and encouraging instructor. Suddenly, my eyes started to see differently, not in a cosmic way, but I could literally feel my brain and eyes working together differently, like how leg muscles kick in after six weeks or so of exercise. Cool stuff! This past summer, I went to Vermont to take another watercolor course with a ridiculously talented painter.

The challenge for me is to keep up with this fun exploring when the day-to-day schedule of teaching wears me down. (And trust me, folks, as wonderful as teaching is, it can knock me on my ass some days. Most teachers, you'll find, are asleep in front of the TV by 7 pm Friday night. Seriously. Ask one of them.) As I'm now finishing up my fall parent-teacher conferences, I see the light at the end of the insane-fall-schedule and decided a blog was in order to help me stay the course and keep the extra-curricular fun in my life.

Thus, I'll be writing about the things I love on that particular day: Gardening (a new hobby I started the summer of '09.) Playing my piano and flute. Drawing. Painting. Hiking. Cooking yummy food. Making ice cream. Writing. Exploring local food. Doing yoga. All the evolving things that interest me. Is this self-centered? Absolutely. As far as I know, though, we only get one life, and I want the rest of mine to be a full of the stuff I love! Will anyone read this? Doubtful, but if you happen to stumble on this page by some miracle, I hope that you might find some tiny seed of inspiration in the same way so many people's blogs have thrilled and inspired me.

That said, I'm now headed to the kitchen to do some magic with the produce I bought at the farmers market today. I'm going to try to do the following: rhubarb apple crisp (the rhubarb is from our garden, and the plant was originally in my grandmother's yard!), baked whole chicken (not sure what recipe I'll try yet), and some other goodies from my new cookbook, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison. Stay tuned.