Tuesday, October 31, 2023

New Hobby: Sewing

 I have been interested in learning to sew for years, and I am finally starting this new hobby. I took home economics in 7th grade, and my mom has a sewing machine, but I never took the time to learn beyond a few repairs and sewing on a button. I am teaching part-time this school year, so I can use my more flexible schedule to have time for sewing. 

Our library allows you to check out a sewing machine for 2 weeks, so that was a good start. I quickly realized that I wanted to learn on my own machine. I started with a budget of $200 and was interested in a couple of Singer machines

I also realized that it will be helpful to have classes about my machine and projects. YouTube has a variety of helpful videos, but it won't completely replace in-person learning for me. After looking at a variety of machines at JoAnn's, I expanded my budget a bit. The Husqvarna Viking Onxy 25 looks like a good beginner, mechanical machine. 

I decided to check out a local sewing store on my day off. I tried the Onyx 25 again before asking if they had a ny used machines. It was my lucky day! They only had two used machines, and one was the right fit for my budget and interests. I found a Smarter by Pfaff 260c for $300 (including tax). The machine is less than a year old, and the previous owner was quickly ready for an upgrade due to her stronger interest in sewing than she originally expected. The machine had been serviced and comes with 90-Day warranty and lessons. 

For now, I have made an infinity scarf and am checking out SewingMastery.com for help with my machine. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Bike Ride from London, Ohio to Columbus

We had the perfect weather for a fall bike ride! It is about 30 miles one way from London to Columbus, Ohio. 

We started with coffee from the London Coffee Peddler, and I will go back from more of the cold brew. We had time to chat and get helpful biking tips from the owner. We had lunch at the M & M Diner, which is a popular spot right off the bike path. We went to park our car for the night in the public lot before beginning the ride. (A call to the London Police Department helped us plan this aspect of our trip.) 

The ride started off with miles of flat, nicely paved trail and beautiful views. We enjoyed both the trees and the fields. Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park was a nice stop during our ride. This park offers another option for overnight parking, shade, and clean restrooms. The park connects riders to the Ohio to Erie Trail with some gravel paths. John's gravel bike was great, and my road bike slowly made it without pavement for a little while. 

It was a change of scenery to enter the Columbus area from rural Ohio, especially later on a Friday afternoon. We had to navigate more road crossings and turns. It was nice to make it to the Scioto Riverfront area with wide paths and a well-kept area of downtown. 

Our ending point was German Village, which we had only briefly explored before this trip. We booked a room at the South Wind Motel and enjoyed our stay. The first floor room allowed us to park our bikes inside. We stopped for Jeni's Ice Cream and walked around The Book Loft. Breakfast at the German Village Coffee House was a highlight with more time to walk through Schiller Park and around the neighborhood of German Village. It was a quick trip, so it makes me want to find time for more biking adventures during the cooler weather. 

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Cricut Creations


I bought my Cricut in the fall of 2019, but I only use it sporadically. I am still looking for ways to learn the machine and use it more often, but I am still happy to have it. In April, I made gifts for my niece's second birthday. I used Cricut heat transfer vinyl and images from Design Space. 

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Card Making Shortcut & Shop Hop

Cut and scored white card bases are my favorite card making shortcut! This really does save me time and energy when I am crafting. I try to keep the A2 size on hand, but I am running low on my pack from Catherine Pooler Designs. Unfortunately, I can no longer find the 8.5 x 5.5 size from Catherine Pooler. My local paper store came to the rescue, and I am ready for the Shop Hop in July. I plan to make it to 5 of the stores included this year since we have a variety of family plans in July. 

My daughter is at a morning day camp this week, so I had some uninterrupted shopping time at one of my local stores. I found a good deal on a couple of dies! The Bee Happy set came with my Shop Hop Passport. 

I have birthday and thank you cards to make, so I can put these new supplies to good use. 

2 New Cards

 I bought some craft supplies this year, and now summer allows me more time for crafting. I made two cards with some new and older supplies. A couple of months ago I added large rainbow stripes to some watercolor paper with my set of paints, so this became the starting point for my cards. 

Supplies used: 

from Stampin' Up! (many are retired) 

Amazing Silhouettes stamp set 

Amazing Thanks Dies 

Butterfly embossing folder

Stitched dies

Ink pads

Night of Navy ink and card stock

Glitter and gold papers

Pearls and sequins 

General Supplies

Watercolors & Watercolor paper 

Catherine Pooler white card stock 

Thursday, June 8, 2023

Baby Shower Card

 It's fun to see your craft supplies with fresh eyes. My friend and neighbor looked through my supplies as we planned for another neighbor's baby shower during our annual block party, and we found this stamp set. 

I stamped simple advice cards on colored card stock and made a card. It was fun to add layers and details after taking a break from card making. 

I even decorated the envelope! 

Our block party was a hit as we celebrated neighbors expecting their first baby and a family moving to Pennsylvania for new career opportunities. The fire department brought over one of the trucks for the kids, and we stayed out until dark. The disco ball has been passed on, and I know that we will continue to gather on our block. I am grateful for my neighbors, friends, and hobbies as we begin summer! 

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

So Much Can Change in 2 Years...


I shared this picture on the blog two years ago, when I was a fourth grade teacher in California. Our district had a day off on Friday, March 13, 2020, and my plan was to attempt to shop for some household goods that day. I left my classroom on the afternoon of March 12, 2020 all set up for Monday. The lessons were planned and the date Monday, March 16, 2020 stayed on the board for weeks. I received the announcement on Friday that our schools were closing for 3-4 weeks. My daughter was still at daycare until Monday, March 16 when those services were also closed. Those few days changed the course of life for my family, but we didn't know it yet. 

Daily bike rides kept my family active, and the kids could play in our backyard. Schools transitioned to remote learning. One of my former students wrote a short story about this phase of the pandemic, which was published on author Kelly Yang's website. 

The parent email sharing the link to this story made my day! I am glad that a student remembers my smiling face from that time. It was a challenging time. I ran morning meetings from my entry way because  good wi-fi spots in our house were limited. My young daughter watched cartoons during morning meetings and napped during my afternoon small groups and staff meetings. 

I started this post in March 2022 without posting it, but realized that I don't want to lose this story. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Jacqueline Woodson

(photo from Jacqueline Woodson's current author Facebook page)


For EDT 603: Foundation of Literacy through Children's and Young Adult Literature at the University of Dayton, I am studying Jacqueline Woodson for my Mentor Author Project. I first became familiar with her picture books through my teaching positions and books discussed in the class, so I read two of her novels to expand my knowledge. I read her memoir in verse, Brown Girl Dreaming, and a recent novel, Harbor Me. (Links at each section of this post will take you to her official website.)


Jacqueline Woodson was born on February 12, 1963 in Columbus, Ohio. Her mother was from the South Carolina and father is from Ohio, so her parents' hometowns provided differing views on the Civil Rights Movement. Jacqueline was mainly raised by her mother and maternal grandparents. Her mother was able to move the family to Brooklyn as Jacqueline started school. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Adelphi University and continued studying writing at the New School. Her first novel was published in 1990 when she was 27 years old. She is a prolific and award winning full-time writer. She uses her eloquent and lyrical style to tackle tough issues through her writing in picture books, novels, and novels in verse. Most of her books span children's to young adult literature, and her recent shift to adult fiction is notable. As of 2020, she has published 33 books and 13 short stories. She will publish two new picture books in 2022


"I used to say I'd be teacher or a lawyer or a hairdresser when I grew up but even as I said these things, I knew what made me happiest was writing."

Jacqueline's writing was first recognized in fifth grade. Her website biography pages gives a fascinating perspective on story telling and a link to watch her TED Talk from April 2019. 

“When I go into classrooms,” Woodson said, “I’ll look at the class makeup and it will be all these kids of color, and they’ll have all these books with no people of color in them. I’m like: ‘Come on! Is it just by accident or by design that you’re not letting the literature reflect your young people?’ ”

Awards (selected)

A variety of awards from 1995 to the present recognize Woodson's contributions as an author and her amazing books.

Newberry Honor 2015, 2009, 2008, & 2006

MacArthur Genius Award 2020

Hans Christian Anderson Award 2020

Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award 2018

Young People's Poet Laureate 2015 - 2017

National Ambassador for Young People's Literature 2018 - 2019

Coretta Scott King Award 2021, 2015, & 2001

Coretta Scott King Author Honor 2013, 2004, 1996, & 1995

Picture Books (selected)

Coming May 2022

Novels  (selected)

Common Threads 

The power of friendship is a theme in both Brown Girl Dreaming and Harbor Me. In her memoir, Woodson writes about her growing friendship with Maria even though their families have different backgrounds. Jackie and Maria are still friends as Woodson notes at the end of Brown Girl Dreaming. Woodson brings together six kids of different backgrounds in Harbor Me and uses their weekly time to talk and share stories to examine their growing friendships.

Woodson uses her home of Brooklyn, New York as a setting for multiple stories including Harbor

Me. Woodson uses places she knows well, including New York and the South as the setting for many of her stories.

Woodson used one of the poems in Brown Girl Dreaming as the inspiration for her picture book, The Day You Begin. Her mother's story of Jacqueline's great-grandfather, William Woodson, was the basis for her poem.

Her own story is part of The Great Migration from the South to the North for many black families. She writes about her family's experience in Brown Girl Dreaming and examines another story if migration in her picture book This is the Rope.

Woodson tackles many challenging, thought-provoking topics in her books including race relations, religion, poverty, loss, divorce, and incarceration. In Brown Girl Dreaming, she shares stories of her Uncle Robert, who was in prison in New York. Her main character in Harbor Me, only remembers her father in prison, but it takes time for Haley to share this significant part of her life with her new friends. Once others share their stories, Haley begins to share her family's story.

Reading Strategies (Pre-K to Grade 5 licensure)

Woodson writes stories for young children to adults, so there are a variety of reading strategies to use with her books in classrooms. 

1. Semantic Map of the Civil Rights Movement (grade 5)

After students read This is the Rope, excerpts from Brown Girl Dreaming, and two to four informational books about the Civil Rights Movement, they create semantic maps in small groups. The Civil Rights Movement is in the center and other areas may include details about the time period, leaders, events, issues, and laws. Each group shares their semantic map with the class. 

2. Read with a Writer's Eye (grade 4)

Discuss how we can "read with a writer's eye" as a whole class and create an anchor chart. After the second read aloud of The Day You Begin, small groups look for evidence of good writing supported by text examples. Each group is given a copy of the text and writes 1-3 examples on 3x5 cards to be shared with the entire class. The 3x5 cards be made into a class anchor chart. (The book can also be connected to motivation for writing personal narratives.)

3. Book Cover Predictions and a One Pager (grade 5)

Books clubs are formed based on interests and reading levels. (The teacher has given choices around the theme of friendship, which is not revealed to the class until later.) Each book club is given their novel to make predictions based on the cover, and one or more groups is reading Harbor Me. The groups begin posters with their predictions about the books in the left column, and then the groups fill in actual details for the books after the reading to compare and contrast with their predictions. Individuals complete a One Pager for their book. After all books clubs are finished, the class has a gallery walk to view the posters and One Pagers to spark additional reading interest in these books.