Part 2 on the Life Skills & Finance rant

October 24, 2017

A friend was saying that she didn’t have a good grasp on how to do taxes, credit, loans/mortgages, car maintenance, health care/insurance, and recognizing mental health problems…

My response to her:

I’m 50 and just found out last year that money we THOUGHT would be for retirement should have been in a specific retirement account because money in a mutual fund gets counted in FAFSA but retirement money does not.
 
And I think that lots of those things should be (could be?) taught in school, but the realist in me says that SO many kids don’t pay attention to anything they are told in school and they count the whole thing as a waste of time. It makes me sad. Daily.
 
It would be great if there were a way to have those things available in school to students who wanted to learn them, without it just being a class that they don’t just blow off… but when I look at the public schools, I’m not sure how that is going to happen.
 
So many of them change continuously (health insurance!), too!
 
I am super lucky that I learned lots of that stuff from my parents.
 
One of my teacher friends includes real-life budget-type stuff in her 12th grade math class, but she had mixed results with kids doing it/getting it/paying attention.
 
I have been thinking about how great it would be to teach kids some home ec and shop stuff like they had in 7th and 8th grade for EVERY STUDENT at my school back in the late 1970’s early 80’s, but they took all of those shops and labs out of the schools when they consolidated here! This is one of the MANY things that I think a lot about trying to get grants to teach, but I have SO many issues I want to address and SO little knowledge about how to get giant grants, even if I could convince someone to change the school curriculum enough to offer them!
 
I really think that some of the stuff they teach in middle school could easily be moved out of the way to do more “life” lessons, but so many of the kids also can’t read or do multiplication (and therefore cannot recognize fractions and decimals and can’t handle any algebra or math in science). At HMS they do this two-hour “Get a Life” program that could easily be made into a one-month unit…but they have testing guidelines and CSO’s that they are requiredd to address.
 
I wish I had a magic wand, because I don’t see it getting better any time soon Add in the opioid crisis and the huge number of kids in foster care and it just looks so insurmountable!
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WV “Faux Bahn Mi” sandwich

October 24, 2017

So, I had bahn mi for the first time a couple of years ago (in South Charleston, WV) and it was super yummy.  It had a ginger-lime mayonnaise and was on a really nice piece of baguette and had carrot/daikon pickle on it.  I bought daikon in the Asian market (near the restaurant, not near my house, boo) and made the carrot/daikon pickle and found a recipe online for the sauce, too.

I can get good baguettes at River & Rail Bakery, but usually I am too lazy.  I tried making the sandwich with regular bread, the pickle, the mayo and some lunchmeat I put in a trying pan and it was pretty good.

I had bahn mi again at PHO restaurant in Huntington, WV and I really liked that, too, but the dressing/sauce was different, and they put a TON of cilantro on it (I like cilantro, but I took it all off and tore the stems out and put the leaves back on my sandwich, that is probably “wrong”, but I did it anyhow).

The daikon is also a problem for me.  I’m not sure where to procure it without driving for two hours. At any rate, it isn’t something I keep in my house.  I made the pickle once with carrots & regular red radishes, and that was also pretty good.

But, one day we had bologna in the fridge (my spawn are very fond of it, probably because it has sugar in it, sigh) and I decided to make “Hillbilly bahn mi” and I fried bologna with some soy sauce, some sriracha, some sesame oil, and then made the ginger-lime mayo and put bread & butter pickles (sweet cucumber pickle slices from Aldi) and that was pretty good, too.

So, three times this week I made a sandwich that I didn’t have to do special shopping for and tasted really good!  I used a toasted plain bagel for the bread (crispy on the outside but soft, too), lunch-meat-deli-slices toasted until caramelized in the frying pan with a little olive oil, a splash of soy sauce, dribblings of sriracha, a trace of sesame oil, with the ginger-lime mayo (fresh grated ginger-root, some lime juice, some mayo, a little srirarcha), and sweet pickles.

It was really yummy, and no weird shopping.

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Rant about students complaining we teach them “useless” things in public school

October 24, 2017

But, seriously. I also have kids fuss at me about this stuff. Some of it they have a point about, but I don’t think that learning about cellular organelles is a bad thing. I think that science, especially about how your own body works, is something that everyone benefits from. Some of it really should be taught in a “bigger picture” sort of way for kids who don’t want to be scientists when they grow up, but still.

I get on kids when they complain about what they have to learn in school, because, FIRST, they are required to learn about it and we are required to teach it. Don’t complain at me, write to your congress-critter.

SECOND, every thing that you learn builds new pathways in your brain and you need that. So shut up.

THIRD, the stuff they complain they aren’t learning about is MOSTLY easy to manage if they can read and follow directions. And what do they not want to do and what do they continually prove that they cannot do? Read. And follow directions. (How do I do my taxes? I save all the things that come in the mail that say “tax document” and then I login to taxactonline.com and follow directions! Only tax accountants know the rest of it, and it changes continually, I was in high school in Vermont in the early 1980’s, I am pretty sure that tax code has changed. FWIW, much of biology has also changed)

I also think they should question authority and think creatively. In order to do those things, they really ought to have a good general understanding of things upon which arguments for policy should be made.

Lemon Blueberry Almost Paleo Microwave Mug Cake

October 4, 2015

I invented this mug cake after looking at a bunch of other recipes that were not quite what I wanted.  A friend of mine loves lemon cake and I wanted to make her something “healthy” but still a treat! (Today I made it with 3 heaping spoonfuls of lemonade mix, 1 T of water, no lemon juice, no stevia).

So, this is the almost paleo microwave mug cake I made up last night. Andrew & I ate one a few days ago to test it out and I brought one to Leann for her EXCELLENT birthday 🎂:)
I’ve made it twice since then, too.

It is VERY tart!

Lemon Blueberry Mug Cake
1 T melted butter
2 t lemonade mix (I used one with sugar, but you could sub a packet of sugar-free?)
1 T lemon juice
Pinch salt
1 packet stevia
1 egg
1 T coconut flour
Big pinch baking soda

Mix all of that in big, microwavable mug.
Take a small handful of blueberries (I used frozen) and toss with 1 t coconut flour in small separate bowl. Stir into batter in mug.

I microwaved it 3 minutes–the center top was a tiny bit sticky-looking at the end of that time. If you use non-frozen blueberries it will likely take less time

DIY add pockets to a vest for a “travel vest”

June 1, 2015

Got this vest for $2 at Goodwill, used some fabric I had already and home, my lovely brain, and my cool snap press and made myself a “hidden” pocket travel vest! 🙂

 

 

denim vest from thrift shop

denim vest from thrift shop

I thought about getting a “travel vest”, but they either were really expensive, really ugly, or were going to take three weeks to get to me and I hadn’t planned ahead enough.  So I thought maybe I could make my own!

I opened the vest up and laid paper on top of it and felt for the seams and traced with a washable marker to make templates for the places where I wanted to make the pockets.  I thought it would look best if I tried to make the seams mostly on the already existing seams.

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I folded all of the edges under, sewed the top/open edge first, then put the pocket onto the inside of the vest and sewed through the edges to attach the pockets.

The upper chest pocket is a “hanging” pocket–I sewed the upper edge hem all the way around, folded it into a little bag shape and sewed the top/back edge of the open part onto the denim–it is only attached at the top, so it “hangs” inside the vest.

resin snap press

resin snap press

I used my snap press to put resin snaps on the vest and on the upper edges of the pockets so I could snap them closed.

finished "travel vest" with pockets you can't really see from the outside :)

finished “travel vest” with pockets you can’t really see from the outside 🙂

This is the finished vest.  I think it is going to be convenient, not too heavy, doesn’t look like a safari vest, lol…the snaps are a little crooked.  Oh well.  I guess I should have drawn a line.

Darn Good Silk Cloud yarn “Lavalette” Shawl

May 26, 2015

Several friends posted links on Facebook to Darn Good Yarn and their special — $20 for yarn for a silk laceweight shawl pattern/kit.  This company trafficks in Fair Trade fiber to help women in India & Nepal, so, I figured I ought to give it a shot.

The yarn came and it was lovely (soft yarn, intense color) and TINY-thin compared to what I mostly knit, but I’ve been having problems with arthritis (!) pain in my left thumb, so I thought maybe it would be a good change to try.  But I was intimidated by the pattern that came with the kit (I prefer nearly-mindless knitting), so I poked around and “found” the Lavalette Shawl pattern stored as a pdf in my iPod.  I’m not sure where/when I uploaded it, lol, but it is available on Ravelry, too.

My friend Cathy helped me by holding the skein while I used the ball winder at Guild and  I cast on to a size 7 bamboo circular needle to get started!

To be completely honest, I cast on and ripped out about 3 times, never ONCE attempting to do the cast on that the pattern suggested (a provisional thing with crochet chain and picking up bumps and turning twice, all to get me to SEVEN stitches).  I decided to just cast on (knit on) 3 stitches, do the “standard” thing for a triangular shawl start (knit one, yo, knit to last stitch, yo, knit one…repeat each row until you have 7 stitches) and pick up the instructions from there.  I tried to do it without stitch markers, lol, and that was also not working, duh, so I I dug around until I found FOUR stitch markers that weren’t gigantic and then it went pretty smoothly.  I’m only in the first Stockinette Section so far, but I like it.

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My next “problem” is trying to decide if I’m going to just use one skein or both??

WOOLYCLAVA–Hooded Cowl Balaclava from recycled wool sweater

February 21, 2015

Yesterday Cat Bordhi posted this spectacular hood/cowl/ski-mask thing (maybe it is a balaclava?!) that she had knitted and made a pattern for
http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/warm-all-winter

Cat Bordhi Designs Warm All Winter cowl

Beautiful!!! I wanted to make one! But, then I remembered how lazy I am and how my thumb hurts and how it would take weeks and then it would (hopefully) be warm here again. My friend Cathy said she might try it with a recycled sweater and DOH! what a brilliant idea!

Now I’ve made two, I think they shall be called “woolyclava”!

Side story:  I’m a substitute teacher and I have two teenage sons and we had FIVE snow days in a row this week, so I actually had time to fool around online and do crafts, which I’ve been sadly neglecting recently.

 

Anyhow, I remembered that I have a tubful of sweaters that I’ve bought at Goodwill to use for projects.  Maybe two.  Hush!

 

The back is all one piece. The front is two or three pieces, where the opening at the face is made with ribbing from the bottom hem or cuffs –down from the top and upside down from the bottom.

I opened one side seam and took off that same sleeve before I tried the pattern pieces, in case I would need to piece parts together for the top of the face.  I traced a beanie hat, compared to my Turtleclava, cut up the sweater and made the thing and put it on and cut parts off and re-sewed.

I used a pretty thin lambswool sweater. I think I had already washed it in the machine.

I think it is about 20″ from top of crown to bottom of cowl. I had to narrow the face from what I originally tried, so that it doesn’t gap too much.

Upcycled wool sweater version (cheater!) of Cat's spectacular Warm All Winter cowl

Upcycled wool sweater version (cheater!) of Cat’s spectacular Warm All Winter cowl

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I used scissors and rotary cutter to cut the sweater– I wasn’t too worried about it unraveling, but I was sewing it right away.  If you might be handling the pieces a lot, they might start to unravel!

I sewed the pieces together, wrong sides facing, with double lines of a very narrow zigzag stitch on my ancient Kenmore sewing machine.  The zigzag will allow for some stretching.  I also have a serger.  I might use that on the next one.  I also ran a row of stitching around the unhemmed edge, so it wouldn’t unravel.

 

I have some plan to embroider or decorate the seams and edges with wool yarn, but haven’t gotten started with that!

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I made this one for my husband.  When I first saw Cat Bordhi’s knitted creation,  I thought it looks sortof like chain mail, like an arming coif?  Anyhow, in my tubful of wool sweaters was was a black & grey herringbone cardigan…

woolyclava on the husband

woolyclava on the husband

woolyclava on the foam head

woolyclava on the foam head

 

About the Katniss Cowls…

December 3, 2013

If you don’t crochet and you want to BUY a Katniss cowl, I have some in my Etsy shop

Image

https://www.etsy.com/listing/171516731/ready-now-hand-crocheted-cowl-inspired

 

Half-cup experimental cookies!

December 3, 2013

Have I mentioned that I am an obsessive person?  And that I really like desserts?  Especially chocolate?  Well, I am.

 

A couple of months ago I first had a Larabar (chocolate brownie), and it was really good.  And I read the ingredients and was SHOCKED.  And I went online to figure out how to make them myself, since they are sort of expensive.  The problem, in my mind, is that when I open the little packaged one that is in my car or my gym bag or whatever, I eat that one and think, “Yum!  And aren’t I virtuous for choosing this as a snack!?”  But if I make a big batch of them at home, I want to eat several of them.  And might have done that.  And then, even though they cost less to make, I feel like it was still pretty foolish and not all that inexpensive.  And, plus, sometimes I really just want a cookie.

 

I have been making all these “experimental” cookies recently, to try to use less processed sugar and possibly less wheat (I don’t think I have a problem with wheat, although I do have friends who have celiac disease, but there’s a lot out there about wheat being not so good for you–especially modern wheat, with no genetic variation anymore, possibly gmo, probably sprayed with pesticides).  See also https://goodnessgraciouswv.wordpress.com/2013/02/22/banana-sweetened-oatmeal-chocolate-chip-cookies-recipe/

Anyhow, today’s cookies were going to be faux larabars, but I decided to bake them into cookies instead.  They were quite tasty, but very tender/fragile.  I’m not sure if I’m using the right word, but they were not the sort of cookies that would hold up well in your pocket.  Sort of airy and soft.

Half-Cup Experimental Cookies (Recipe)

Put in food processor (I have a mini Cuisinart):

1/2 cup almonds (grind/chop them up a bit)

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped dates (grind/chop the three of these up together)

Add a little vanilla and 1/2 t salt and grind/chop some more.  Dump that all out into a bowl.

Into the food processor  (now empty!), put

heaping 1/2 cup oats

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut (I have been meaning to try coconut flour, but haven’t found it)

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour  (I’m sure you could use regular flour or gluten-free flour)

3 T cocoa powder (or more)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 egg

3 T melted coconut oil (or butter)

1 smashed ripe banana (I was going to leave the banana out, but it all seemed too dry and I didn’t want to add water! and I figured the banana would probably be good)

Mix all of that, add back the chocolate/date/almond stuff, scoop out by small spoonfuls (heaping teaspoonfuls) and flatten slightly, bake 350 for 8-10 minutes.  Let cool on wire rack.

Chicken & dumplings (recipe)

November 25, 2013

A friend was asking for dinner ideas and when I said “chicken & dumplings” she said she always messed them up, so I wrote this for her:

Dumplings (the way we make them in Vermont, anyhow, not the noodley ones they make in some other places) are easy! 2 cups bisquick or jiffy mix (I use the Aldi brand) plus one cup quick oats and 1 cup milk and drop that biscuity mix onto gently boiling broth-y stuff. Yesterday I only put one chicken breast, cut up, with lots of fresh & frozen veggies (cook/saute (cut up) 3 stalks of celery, 3 carrots, 1 zucchini, some corn & peas), some basil & italian seasonings, garlic & pepper, with 1 of those boxes of chicken broth. Make it in a WIDE lowish pan so you can fit all the dumplings across the top. Drop by spoonfuls, cover, turn down to simmer for 12 minutes.