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.


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.


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

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



P1050112 P1050114

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!


P1050119 P1050120

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




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.

Katniss-inspired cowl-sweater-thing from “Catching Fire”

November 25, 2013

I went to see “Catching Fire” with my kids (after, of course, having read the books) and in the very first scene, Katniss is wearing this very cool cowl-thing in the woods with Gale.  As soon as I saw it I wanted one.  This is one of the problems with being a knitter, crocheter, spinner, sew-er.  I get distracted in movies by their cool clothing and accessories sometimes!  (Nanny McPhee, Harry Potter, etc)


In the morning I started looking online and discovered that the ACTUAL thing is handwoven, but that did not deter me.  I found LollyKnits version, but I decided I would rather crochet it, because, honestly, I was in a big hurry.  So I kept looking and found Cogaroo’s crochet version.  Yay!

Of course I changed it.  I always change everything.  And I posted on Ravelry, which is shocking, because I am normally extremely lazy about that, too. 
If you aren’t on Ravelry, I’ll copy most of my comments right here:

Thanks so much to Cogaroo for this! I used 45 stitches chained, joined, sc for the cowl, 8 rounds then 2 rounds dc. {I used a bigger hook on mine than she used, so it went quite fast–I got the whole thing done in one day, with other things in my day, too, but working fairly obsessively for at least a few hours}

For the body, I started doing the herringbone hdc but I was too lazy, so I used a hdc with the hhdc2tog decreases. My triangles were 37 stitches on the long/starting edge.

I went back around the armhole with sc edging at the end.

I used parts of 5 different skeins of yarn (Wool Ease Thick & Quick–two skeins of oatmeal, part of a skein of a brown heathery one; parts of skeins of LB Hometown in cream, brown with flecks and cream with flecks). I meant to weigh the finished piece to get a better idea of exactly how much yarn I used, but didn’t yet.

Cogaroo has a fun little drawing on her site that made this easier to understand and to assemble. The long cross-body cream colored side of the triangle is the cast-on/chain edge, and then you decrease on each end of each row until you get to the point. For the front piece and the back piece.

I actually made the cowl part first, then the body parts, but if you are nervous about running out of yarn, I would do the cowl last, because you could have a shorter or longer cowl, but it would be dumb if you ran out of yarn in the middle of a triangle. ;p


Ordering with Scholastic Book Clubs

October 16, 2013

Ordering with Scholastic Book Clubs

Shop Online: scholastic.com/readingclub

One-Time Class Activation Code: GKGBT


Dear Families,


Encouraging reading is one of the most important things we can do to help your child succeed. It can be tough finding the right books to keep them interested, which is why I am so excited that our library will be participating in Scholastic Reading Club this school year.


With Scholastic Reading Club:

  • Every book you buy earns FREE Books for our  library
  • You can choose from handpicked, grade- and reading-level-specific books for your child
  • You’ll find the best values on a variety of formats, including eBooks

Each month, your child will find Reading Club flyers in the library. Together you can choose from books hand-selected by teachers and experts, and then order online or by returning your order form and payment to me.



Thank you for your support,


April Diamond/ Library Media Specialist


If This Is Your First Time Ordering Online:

  •  REGISTER at scholastic.com/readingclub
  •  ENTER the Class Activation Code at the top of this letter
  •  CHOOSE from thousands of print titles, value packs, and Storia eBooks
  •  SUBMIT the order to me by the due date listed on the website

 EARN FREE Books for our library too!

WVDE Accountability

September 11, 2013

Check out “My Schools Performance” from the WV Department of Education to see how our schools rank under the new accountability system. http://wvde.state.wv.us/esea/performance/



Cabell schools’ scores mixed in state test

September 04, 2013 @ 11:00 PM


The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON — Two of Cabell County’s 26 schools achieved the highest ranking, Success, in West Virginia’s new accountability system based on student results on the WESTEST 2.

Fourteen others received the second-highest designation, Transition, meaning they met one of two overall standards in the plan put forth by state education officials after receiving a waiver from the federal government on the No Child Left Behind regulations.

The data released Wednesday by the West Virginia Department of Education revealed that 435 schools in the state were in one those two categories, while 217 others — including 10 in Cabell County — need additional support on both the local and state level.

Those schools fall into one of three categories — Focus, Support or Priority schools — all of which signify a school has work to do and, in some cases, means state education officials make a diagnostic visit and assist with an improvement plan.

State officials said that is what the new system was created for — to better identify which schools and students need the most help. According to a news release from the state Department of Education, the new accountability system “more effectively identifies struggling schools, provides individual student growth data, better directs resources to struggling schools and recognizes schools that are doing well.”

“We truly believe it gives more accurate information about students,” spokeswoman Liza Cordeiro said. “It’s no longer just pass or fail like it was under No Child Left Behind.”

Under the new accountability system, schools and students receive a score for factors such as whether students are meeting grade level expectations, how much a school has closed its achievement gap between groups of students, and how much students are improving academically no matter their current level of performance.

The 184 Success schools — including Ona and Nichols elementary schools in Cabell County and 23 others in Wayne, Lincoln, Putnam and Mason counties — earned that distinction because a majority of their students met annual academic goals in math and English/language arts while also reaching goals in attendance or graduation rates, student academic growth, student success on the WESTEST 2 and learning gaps between student groups.

A Transition school is one that meets either the academic goals in math and English/language arts or all of the latter standards.

Cordeiro said the new system significantly improves upon the “adequate yearly progress” benchmark system under No Child Left Behind because subgroups, if not large enough, could perform poorly at a school. But if there were enough students who reached the pre-set proficiency marks, the school was still rewarded with a “met AYP” designation.

“So, a school making AYP might have a whole student group that hasn’t shown growth or proficiency,” she said. “It was like that group of kids got lost in the shuffle.”

She said the new system and the data it provides allow teachers and principals to create targeted improvement plans. In addition, poorly performing schools will receive help from the state department, Cordeiro said.

In Cabell County, that means the 14 Transition schools will complete a targeted strategic plan and be monitored occasionally for progress. The school system can also partner with the Regional Education Service Agency and others to provide professional development, technical assistance and intervention. Schools also must show progress in student achievement each year to maintain or improve the designation.

The two schools that were pegged as Success schools — Nichols and Ona elementary schools — must continue to make progress to maintain the designation.

“We are encouraged by it,” said Cabell County Assistant Superintendent Jeff Smith on the number of Success and Transition schools. “We have a plan to work with all our schools to develop strategic plans in the coming year.”

Cabell County’s four Focus schools include Southside Elementary, Barboursville Middle, Huntington Middle and Cabell Midland High School. That designation means learning gaps based on academic progress between student groups were too large. In high schools, it means the graduation gap was too large.

Those schools will receive help from a Focus Assistance Support Team made up of staff with school-level expertise related to each student group, with members from the local, regional and state level.

These schools also will implement the West Virginia School Improvement Framework, which includes a diagnostic visit and report and improvement plan.

Cabell County also has four Support schools, which include Highlawn, Spring Hill and Central City elementary schools and Huntington High School.

Support designation means a majority of student groups have not met the annual academic goals in math and English/language arts and also have not reached goals in attendance or graduation rates, student academic growth, student success on WESTEST 2, and learning gaps between student groups. The school will receive additional support, mainly from the local school district.

Cabell’s Priority schools include Peyton Elementary and Enslow Middle. Enslow no longer exists because it consolidated with Beverly Hills to create Huntington East Middle. But the new student body will still be closely monitored.

Peyton already has received a site visit from the state and an improvement plan is being developed. In addition, a school improvement coordinator will be assigned to the school.

Statewide, the data showed:

From 2012 to 2013, the number of students who met the proficiency mark on the WESTEST 2 decreased.

Data indicate that West Virginia students are not closing the gap fast enough to meet national expectations.

Of the students who did not meet proficiency rates in math, 73 percent showed no academic improvement.

Of the students who did not meet proficiency rates in reading, 68 percent showed no academic improvement.

“It is important for our schools to understand that the new accountability system is not about comparing one school to another,” state Superintendent James Phares said. “The system is about keeping your eye on the finishing line despite where a student starts and moving that individual student forward to proficiency.”

Individual school information is available at http://wvde.state.wv.us/esea/performance/scores.php.

The information includes scores for each school based on the number of students at grade level expectations (proficiency), how much the school has closed its achievement gap between groups of students (achievement gaps closed), how much students are improving no matter where they start (observed growth), how close students are from reaching their grade level expectations (adequate growth) and attendance rates.