I love Martina Behm's patterns and here is one I just finished.
I used this yarn, which is sadly discontinued, in the Greta Garbo color way.
This week has been exactly the way I envision summer being during the long months prior to June. I've been to the beach at all different times of the day every day this week to sit in the sun with friends, and alone, to collect shells, read, and knit. I've been making it a habit of slipping down around about an hour before sundown, to just relax and watch the water.
I've also been working steadily in our yard, and really like how it's looking. This birdbath was made by a friend and I just moved it to this location last month. Steve edged it with reclaimed rocks from the abandoned house down the street and it all seems to come together somehow.
My patio tomato plants are loaded.
Same flower bed area as the birdbath, just some different flowers.
Close up of the coneflowers with the weathered fence.
It grew like crazy and I need to pick some tomorrow. I figured one plant would be enough for the two of us.
I decided to repaint the kitchen shelf again, as I just didn't think the yellow had enough of a pop. So I went back to white and picked a key lime green for the baskets, and I love it! It's exactly the look I wanted.
A dill plant that had outgrew it's little pot, along another section of our fence.
Cherry tomatoes coming along.
My perfect summer week also includes thrift store shopping; I found these beauties at a consignment shop for a total of $13 and I love them. I'm giving a spoon each to my girls, and keeping the scoop and bowl for my homemade bath salts.
At another thrift store, I found this beautiful piece for fifty cents; thanks to recently browsing my copy of Wisecraft, I'm going to use it to make a small pillow for my craft room bed.
I also spent some time in a bookstore just browsing craft books and magazines, met my parents for lunch, had an eye exam, picked up food at the farmer's market, popped into my favorite local knit store, and taught five hours a day, Monday through Thursday. And even though it sounds like it was packed, it was a nice balance of busy and calm. I feel so lucky.
It hit me that I have adjusted to summer break quite quickly this year. Usually I seem to struggle with either doing too much and feeling out of control, or too little and feeling mildly depressed, but today I realized that I feel great about how I managed the first week. Knowing that I'm working for six days eases the financial concerns of taking our trip next month and it adds some structure to the next two weeks, which is beneficial to me in many ways, especially since the workday ends at one o'clock. If only regular school days had those hours!
I plan on repainting the little bookshelf this week. I've decided to paint the shelf white (the original color, only it will be clean and new again) and the baskets a bright tropical green. I'm also watering the plants, tomatoes, herbs, zinnias, two new butterfly bushes and one transplanted one, and just generally keeping up and trying to plan some crafting.
School has gone well the first two days; my assignment is the easiest one really, as I don't have to grade anything. It's just a quick review before the students retake the state test. Most of them seem motivated but a few are acting silly; somehow it's surprising at their age, 17 and 18, and yet it probably shouldn't be. It is summer, after all. Anyway, it's good for me in that it gives me a chance to review some of the lessons and activities I've used or thought about using, as well as motivating me to dig into the curriculum a bit more. This is especially helpful since I found out that my classes in the fall will require three separate preps, as I'm slated to teach Transition English 10, Honors English 10, and Honors English 11. And an Honors English 12 in the spring semester! Lots of new readings and lesson planning for me.
I walked on the beach to celebrate Summer Solstice; so lovely.
The next evening was just as pretty, although the light was very different.
Love where I live! Garden photos next time.
Today was my errand day: met my niece for breakfast, went to my school for instructional materials, went to summer school location to prepare for Monday, scheduled hair and eye exam appointments, picked up medications from the pharmacy, made a car payment, went to the post office for international stamps, and met my parents and Melissa for an early dinner at Fellini's, one of our favorite restaurants. I was gone from 9:00 to 4:30, almost like a work day, but I did everything I needed to do.
Tomorrow is beach day, when friends come over and hang out with me on the beach. I'm looking forward to catching up with them and just relaxing. I've been doing Beach Friday ever since I moved here in 2008 and it's a great way to keep in touch during the summer. Teachers love the beach as a rule, at least around here!
As for getting set up for school on Monday, I was asked to teach a SOL quick review class for students who passed English 11, but failed the state test (SOL). It shouldn't be too difficult since it's only six days and I don't have to worry about grading. I chose ten current event articles that I think the students will be interested in so we can review vocabulary and text structure. I'm assuming these are students who are somewhat motivated, but time will tell. At any rate, the money I earn will cover the travel cost of the trip Steve and I are taking next month. We are going to a reception/party that Meredith's in-laws are hosting in their hometown of Oswego, NY, and then Steve and I are spending a few days in Montreal, a night in Portland, Maine, and visiting friends in Massachusetts, and his brother in Maryland, before coming home. It's been quite awhile since Steve and I took a trip longer than three days, so I'm looking forward to it.
Knitting has been sparse around here, due to the focus in yard work, but I have been reading quite a bit, so I'm okay with that. If you're interested in what I'm reading, ask me for my Goodreads account name.
Oh, and we finally got some rain this evening! Looks like the rain chain worked just fine, so I'll install another one this weekend.
Summer is looking good around here. I'm still cleaning up the yard, but today I hung out on the beach with a good friend, then we went to a local beach cafe for lunch. This afternoon I painted a small bookcase that I've had for quite a few years. It started out as a bathroom organizer but I moved it into the kitchen about a year ago. It was white with white baskets but now, thanks to the quick work of a can of spray paint, it's yellow.
It's a pretty lightweight piece, so I only use the bottom shelf for cookbook storage. The baskets hold napkins and dish towels (tea towels is the name we used when I was growing up). Our small kitchen has so little storage space, that this has been a great help. Plus, Gracie likes to perch on top of it so she can look out of the kitchen windows.
Here she is, inspecting the weird new smell.
I don't love it as much as I love the turquoise basket I painted a week or so ago, but it does add a bit of color to the kitchen. And now I have to go get the smear of yellow off of the wall. Steve caulked something there and left a smudge which I hadn't noticed until now. Sheesh.
It's funny; when I'm in school, I long for summer break, but when it gets here, I can have trouble adjusting to all the unscheduled time. I'm trying to avoid the aimless floundering around by making a list at night before bed. While it's not a perfect system, it seems to be helping a bit. The only problem so far is that I'm exhausted! As I mentioned before, I've been doing a lot of yard work lately and while I love it, I seem to have trouble stopping until my back or hands are killing me. I need to find a balance, and I'm hoping my list making can help me with that. Add the fact that I got sick on the last day of school, and excessive napping seemed to take up the first three days, and I am already behind schedule.
But wait! I don't have a schedule unless it's the one in my head, so after working hard yesterday, I decided to sleep in today. After debating with myself, I finally braved the heat for a Home Depot run and I now have a bona fide rain chain! A DIY rain chain that only cost $5! We've had the downspout off the back corner of our house because that's where the rain barrel is, but it looked trashy not green, so it's been on my list of things to do, ever since I saw this how-to video (scroll to the bottom for it). As soon as it rains and I make sure it works, I'm going to install them all over the house.
I also bought some more spray paint for a kitchen bookshelf project that I'll show later, when it's completed. Having had such success with the turquoise basket I did last week, I'm on a spray painting roll. And I bought a new toilet seat because I broke ours the other night. Nothing says you need to lose weight more than breaking a toilet seat by sitting on it.
Whoops, just got a call from the summer school office and I accepted a six day, quick review class that starts Monday. This will help pay for our mini vacation next month, so yea!
I just watched a film that pinned me to the sofa. The Broken Circle Breakdown is a 2012 movie that was so well acted that I can't believe I hadn't heard of it before now. Rent it, but be prepared: it will wreck you.
The last day for students was Thursday and one thing that is different for me at the high school level compared to the years I taught eighth grade is that I know I will see my students again in the fall, so I'm not as sad to see them go. The close out system is more complicated at high school as well, which means I am more focused on completing the numerous tasks I have to do to end the year, and less focused on saying goodbye. The process took me completely by surprise last year and consequently, it was the most stressful close out since my first year of teaching. So this year, I stayed on top of everything and it wasn't quite as bad, although it still seems more complicated than it should, as far as I'm concerned.
One thing that was the same though was my propensity for getting sick at the beginning of summer break; probably because I'm usually pretty tired by this point. I bet if I could count up the times I've been sick as soon as school let out, the average would be over fifty percent. This year I came down with a sore throat, laryngitis, and feeling achy all over. A coworker had this on Monday, so it's probably a virus, and I'm assuming since she was over hers in two days, I will be too. Fingers crossed, as I have a lot of plans I want to get started on as soon as possible.
As usual, I want to clear out the clutter that accumulates over the year, and this summer I've also added gardening/yard work to my plans. Steve has done a great job with planting roses all over our yard, but I'm ready to add some other types of plants. I've bought another butterfly bush and planted it near our front porch, but I've also been transplanting daylilies from a yard down the street. The house has been sold and the new owners are planing to raze the house and rebuild, so we've gotten permission to dig up some of the many, many daylilies that are there, before they get trampled over. Even though I have permission, I still feel odd digging plants up, like I'm stealing or something. But hey, free plants are free plants, and this is a great opportunity to fill in some blank spaces in our yard with low maintenance plants. I also want to put in some grasses that are indigenous to the sandy soil we have, being so close to the beach. I also want to add a little more curb appeal to our front porch, since I've mostly focused on our deck in the back (which is really also a "front" since we live on a corner lot. And I want to put in a clothesline; I haven't had one since 1990 and I've been pining for one for a long, long time. I love hanging clothes on a line, both for environmental reasons and because I think it's so much better for the clothes.
I had my parents and youngest daughter over today for a postponed Father's Day lunch, and I made kabobs on the grill. Very pretty and it was what my dad requested, but it seems I've gone off the taste of charcoal grilling. I also made rice, the pea-pesto-pasta salad I made last week, and grape salad, which actually tastes like dessert. And now I probably won't cook again this week, because it's too hot to cook and I have a ton of leftovers, even though I sent some grape salad home with my guests. These are the kabobs, pre-grilled:
Steak, chicken, kielbasa, and vegetable; something for everyone, but I wish I had broiled them instead of grilling.
School is coming to a close and as usual, I have mixed feelings. Last Monday I felt mildly disgusted with my students for no discernible reason except that I felt they had overstayed their welcome. Luckily I was back to my normal self by Tuesday, and spent the rest of the week enjoying their idiosyncrasies and we had a good week. Did I mention that I taught the play, Julius Caesar, to one block? Well, I did, and they were great sports about it. As their reward for working hard, I showed both the 1953 and the 1970 film versions, and we were able to discuss the way casting affects character development and understanding. My other two blocks did not read the play, as I felt they needed more writing and skills practice, but I did show them the 1953 version, after prepping them for it, and I feel they were exposed to it at the very least. I'm the only 10th grade teacher in our building who taught it, as most feel like it was too difficult for the regular classes, but since it is in our curriculum, I felt that to leave it out would deprive them of something important. My high school education was sorely lacking in Shakespeare, and I have always felt I missed some important works, which is why I am trying to read some of the books everyone assumes I have already read. And for me to decide that some groups of students don't need to read Shakespeare, while other groups do, smacks of divisiveness and elitism. And my God, the language that is in that play! As I had never read it before, I had no idea that so many of the phrases we use today originated from it. Most of my students had heard of the new movie, The Fault in Our Stars, but even I didn't know the phrase came from Julius Caesar. It was only one of the many lines that we recognized. I found that to be very exciting and illuminating.
On another note entirely, my stepdaughter, Stephanie, left today to begin her tour as a Peace Corp volunteer. She flew to Philadelphia this morning for a one day orientation, and flies to JFK tomorrow to catch her flight to Togo, Africa. I met Stephanie when she was fifteen, married her father when she was sixteen, and she has been as dear to my heart as my own daughters ever since. In fact, due to the fact that she lived with us and I'm off ten weeks every summer, she and I have spent a great deal of time alone together over the past seven years. She even learned to knit from me, and I like to think that she flourished as a result of our relationship as well as the relationships she has with both of my daughters, who love her dearly and never use the word "step" when speaking of her to others. As a matter of fact, she looks more like a blood sister to my youngest, than my two girls do with each other! And I think that the quirkiness and independent spirits of my daughters helped make Stephanie feel more comfortable with her own independent and quirky self. Not that I take credit for Stephanie being who she is; I just think we were very good for each other. She has an innate sense of kindness and has always been very accepting of me and my girls, after the initial shock of us wore off, and because of her, I was able to delay having an empty nest a few years longer than I would have otherwise.
The truth of the matter is, I don't know how I'll get through this summer without her, let alone two and a half years, even as I am bursting with pride for her and this new adventure she has embarked upon. Thank you, Stephanie, for being so brave and adventurous!
Oh, and thank you for your concern about my yard work/lack of common sense injury. Although I keep finding random bruises, I'm healing quite nicely. And no more power tools after dark.
I've continued to work in the yard most nights after I get home from work and as a result, our yard is looking better than it ever has since we moved in almost six years ago. Unfortunately, last night I continued with the weed whacker after it got dark and ended up tripping over something and falling headlong into the grass. On my nose. (side note: my students informed me that it's a weed eater not a weed whacker. Any thoughts on this topic?) My glasses got slightly mangled and ripped up my nose badly enough that we went to the emergency room to see if I had broken it and/or needed stitches. Luckily enough, it wasn't broken and the way the skin was torn, did not require sutures, just a cleaning and a bandage. My nose feels as big as my face, I will probably have two black eyes by Monday, and I had a raging headache, but it definitely could have been worse. And no, I will not post a photo, because the one I took of myself looks exactly like a mug shot.But it's a beautiful Saturday so I will enjoy it, big nose and all.