Clay Days

 

**These posts are no longer relevant as we have finished our homeschooling journey;  but, I’ll leave them up in case it helps anyone with homeschool planning ideas.**  -February 2014

We’ve let the arts fall by the wayside recently.  The Peeps have been so busy with academic pursuits it seems like creative endeavors have been pushed aside.  Well, that’s not entirely true…Peep #1 is an avid writer, and enjoys working on his stories; Peep #2 has always been very creative, and is constantly decorating the walls of her room, her belongings, and herself! (See her most recent transformation in the photo below– red hair!)  But I’m talking about a more formal artistic pursuit, and so when a friend and fellow homeschool mom invited us to come spend some time in her pottery studio once a week for the next couple of months, I jumped at the chance.  I was looking forward to it for myself as well– pottery is always something I’ve wanted to try.  So, last Thursday we arrived at the studio attached to the side of her house, ready to play in the mud!

My friend P’s studio is large, warm, sunny and bright with shelves teaming with books on pottery and art.  Pots in various stages of completion rest along the sills and floor and immediately lend inspiration to n00bs such as ourselves.  P’s passion is ancient pottery, particularly Minoan and Greek, and some of her replicas blew us away.  She is also passionate about technique, and promised us a demonstration of an ancient firing method, which happens in a huge fire pit, once the weather warms enough so that we can go outside.

So, with a bit of history and inspiration in hand, we were ready to begin.  And start at the beginning we did!  Mastering kneading and preparing the clay didn’t take much time, but oh, the dreaded pinch pot!  We’ve worked on these at home before with varying degrees of frustration (usually mine).  After several failed attempts (and as I watched my offspring deftly complete theirs and move on to coils), P surreptitiously produced a mold for me to push the clay into.  I was not too proud to accept and happily finished what will hopefully be a rather nice serving bowl.    But, not to be beaten by a kindergarten skill, I cut off another hunk of clay and took another stab at the pinch pot.  Under P’s gentle guidance I successfully finished a sturdy, though rather lumpy, sugar bowl/salt cellar/pencil cup… haven’t quite decided yet what it’s going to live its life as.

After the pinch pots and coiled bowls, she had us move on to a more advanced skill– hollow pieces.  These are shaped with slabs of clay that are rolled flat and folded into shape– in this case, a large seed pod.  Very cool and I’ll be interested to see how they turn out.  All of us were casting longing glances at the pottery wheels, but we’ll have to wait until we have a little more skill under our belts before we attempt to “throw clay.”  That’s a good thing, I think– we want to do it right, and going through the smaller stages is all part of the process.  It also means more days in that beautiful studio, filled with music and talk and the wonderful smell of P’s dinner drifting in from the adjacent kitchen.  Yeah, I can do with  more of that.

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The Mad Hatter

In an attempt to find the perfect slouchy hat, I  have been knitting hats like mad!!  I even created my own pattern, which is still in the works and will be posted soon.  In the meantime, this is my favorite so far.  It’s called A Case of the Mondays and was really simple to knit:

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I used Malabrigo Chunky in Pearl 10:  it’s so squishy-soft and I love the aubergine color.  The only thing is is that it’s the tiniest bit loose at the brim;  the next time I’m at a craft store I plan to pick up some elastic thread to run through it to help snug it up a bit.  If I knit this again I’d use smaller needles for the brim.  Still,  I totally  love it!

Words

I’ve always enjoyed journaling, ever since I started in an old spiral bound notebook when I was 11 years old.  The following Christmas I was thrilled to get my first real diary (I know because it actually said “Diary” on the front 😉 ) …

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My first bonafide journal.

…and the rest is history.  Unfortunately, much like this blog, I haven’t been very consistent with keeping up with it.  Event journaling is easier… pregnancy, travel, knitting, gardening… but the day to day recording of thoughts or happenings often gets overlooked.

This year I thought I’d try something different and purchased a Moleskine pocket calendar. I got the idea because I was cleaning out a desk drawer, and came across a bunch of (pre-iPhone) old pocket calendars.  But as I was thumbing through them before they got tossed, I realized that by simply jotting down mundane appointments and activities, I’d inadertantly chronicled years worth of my past.. albeit very bare bones.  I did eventually throw them out, as there were many blank pages and indecipherable notes, but the idea had bloomed. It’s been working out great; without the pressure to write anything particularly long or poetic, I’m more likely to do it.    The entries are simple, but I like just being able to jot down as little or as much as I’d like, and embellishing if I feel like it; and because I’m not writing a lot each time, I tend to get more creative with what I do with each entry.

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I’m no artist, but these have been really fun to do and I think will make nice little memory books.  So… write! Record your days; you’ll be glad you did.  icon_mrgreen

Nerdy Knits

It’s a good time to be a nerd who knits.  So many awesome fan goodies to make!  I thought it would be fun to chronicle what I’ve made so far.  Most of them are listed on my Ravelry project page anyway, but I want to have them all separately in one place.  So, without further ado:

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Harry Potter Deathly Hallows Wristbands

I  knit these eons ago for Peep #1 who is a die-hard Harry Potter fan.  They were my first attempt at knitting intarsia and I was pretty pleased with the results, even if they were really big for his skinny little wrists.  The pattern is here.

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Immediately after seeing Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland remake, I went home and did a mad search for a pattern like the wristlets Alice wore as she tumbled down the rabbit hole.  Success!  I love Stephanie and Tiny Owl Knits; so many beautiful, magical creations– if you haven’t visited her site yet, I highly recommend it.

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“Man walks down the street in a hat like that, people know he’s not afraid of anything.”

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Isn’t it cunning?

Firefly hat!  This is definitely my favorite nerdy knit to date.  I spent a lot of time trying to find the perfect yarn for this… I wanted it to be as close to the original Jayne hat as possible, and many of the versions I saw had colors that were too bright.  So after much agonizing I chose Mauch Chunky in Spice, Pumpkin, and Butterscotch.  Unfortunately it was MAD ITCHY, so I sewed in a nice fleece lining.  DH loves this hat and he gets a lot of compliments on it.  One of these days I need to make one for myself!

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Weasley Sweater

Another Harry Potter project.  I knit this Weasley Sweater for my nephew, who’s first name also begins with H!  Very happy with how it turned out.  Again, the colors were perfect, though they’re a little brighter in this photo than they actually are (I used Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Cumin and Black Cherry Heather.)

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I adore this little Woodin with a leaf tail.  Woodins are inspired by the cute forest spirits in Hayao Miyazaki’s anime.  His movie Totoro is one of my faves.  I actually have a knit Totoro in my Ravelry queue, but haven’t got around to making that yet.  Made this one though as a gift for Peep #2, but I think I loved it more. LOL

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Ravenclaw House Scarf

Perhaps I should confess that I am just as big a Harry Potter fan as the kids… if not more.  I loved all the books (and movies) and still re-read the books whenever I feel like spending more time in that universe. Since every time I take one of those online “Which Harry Potter House do you Belong In”-type quizzes, I get Ravenclaw, when it was time to knit a scarf for myself it had to be a Harry Potter House scarf in Ravenclaw colors (films, since I prefer grey and blue to blue and bronze).  I used an awesome merino called Valley Yarns Amherst in navy and light grey, that is super soft, not at all itchy, and because it’s knit in the round and blocked flat, is super squishy and warm to wear.  I had some yarn left over and made this “Ravencowl”, inspired by another Raveler.  Basically, I just knit four blocks of the scarf (alternating 2 blue, 2 grey) and seamed it together.

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Ravencowl

I wear this all the time around the house.  It is SO warm and because it’s a cowl and not a scarf, it doesn’t get in the way when I’m doing things.

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And finally, my most recent accomplishment– the Hermoine Hearts Ron Hat.  It’s a replica of the Hat Hermoine wore in the Halfblood Prince movie (above).  I used Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend but not in the same color as Hermoine’s.  I may do another in grey at some point.

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To my delight a book actually exists called Knits for Nerds.  DH gave me a copy for Yule this year, so I have pages and pages of more geek knitting to look forward to.  What’s up next?  Perhaps a pair of furry knit Hobbit feet.

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Happy Knitting!

No Winter Blues

Yep.  I’m one of those crazy people that loves the winter.  In fact, I love living in New England because I appreciate the beauty of each season, and just when I’m sick of one kind of weather, it changes.  I’ve never understood people that live in New England and then complain about the weather all the time.  In the winter they complain about the snow.  In the summer they complain about the heat and humidity.  So… why are you here?

Winter is my respite from the bustle of the other three seasons.  In some variation or another, in the spring I can be busy with seedlings, garden prep, chicks, and bees.  Summer is weeding weeding and more weeding.  Also vigilant bug and disease control since I garden organically and need to stay on top of it.  Fall is harvesting– from the garden as well as from the bees and putting both to bed for the winter.   Ah… winter, when I can indulge at last in being curled up in front of the wood stove,  hot mug of tea by my side and a basket of yarn at my feet, knitting away for hours.  Or enjoying a good book.  Or doing some kind of project– when I feel like it.  It’s like a mini-retirement every year.  LOL  Which reminds me… snow days!  Getting an unexpected day off of work due to a snow storm is awesome.  I  love being snowed in.   I love the winter sky at dusk and sunsets which, in my opinion, have a stark beauty that trumps any of summer’s.  I love breathing in biting air, refreshing my lungs and sinuses.  I love the quiet.  I love the light of a full moon on snow.

But, just when I’m starting to be done with of all that, spring waits right around the corner. 😉  But not yet.  For a few more weeks anyway, winter beckons me to be still.

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Here, There, and Everywhere

To say it’s been a while is a bit of understatement– my last post was over a year ago! So much going on; a little catch-up is in order.

Firstly, a couple of years ago I got a part time job. As the Peeps moved into more independent work I had more free time and started to look for something that might be a good fit, and I found it! I’m working about 20 hours a week for a little art gallery in our local village. It’s very flexible (I can make my own hours) and so works wonderfully for being a homeschool mom of teens.

Speaking of which, yes! Two teens! When did that happen? Whoa This year Peep #1 is a sophmore and doing a lot of on-line and outside classes:

Online:

Bravewriter (Writing)
Geometry

Local Community College:
Chemistry

Other misc:

English
Biology 101 as a local marine research facility

At home I’m doing Oak Meadow Civics with him, but ultimately doing so many outside classes has really freed up my time. Oh! And, in the last year or so Peep #1 has really developed a passion for writing. This fall he attended the Unschool Adventures Writer’s Retreat in Crested Butte, Colorado, and loved every minute of it. This was his first extended stay away from home (a little over a month), and he had to navigate two airports (a change over) and manage his own time & money while out there. And you know what? He aced it! We are really proud of him!

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Halloween at the Writer’s Retreat

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The breathtaking view of Crested Butte.

Peep #2 Is also doing the Biology and English classes, and an online Theatre Arts class through Curr-Click as well. At home we’re doing Oak Meadow Math 8 and Civics. She is hell-bent on going back to school next year (she will be a freshman) at the local high school. I have mixed feelings about this. I will definitely miss the homeschooling, and I have reservations about putting her in “the system.” But, she has always said she wanted to go to a “regular” high school. She has friends who go to the high school so she won’t be alone in that regard. And, she has always loved theatre, and this particular high school has an excellent drama department. In fact, when she was eight she auditioned and got a part in their production of The Music Man. Peep #2 is very social. She has a good sized group of friends (both homeschool and not), but needs more. So, we’ll see… I have told her she can always come back; whether it’s a day or a semester, if it’s not a good match, homeschooling will be waiting for us!

So… what else? Ah yes– in September we took a trip to France! We had such an amazing time. We spent a week in Paris at DH’s aunt’s apartment, sight-seeing around Paris. So, SO much to see and do, but I think we did pretty well and hit all the big ticket places. The Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Bastille, Opera, Musee D’Orsay, Napolean’s tomb, etc etc etc. We also got to visit with DH’s cousins over dinner one night. Peep #1 had become friendly with DH’s cousin’s son, who is about the same age, when they were visiting the States last summer. So he spend the night and took the metro home the next day– again– a pretty cool thing to do considering the Metro, and the language, are unfamiliar to him.

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Arc de Triomphe

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Taking a walk along the Seine

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Tour Eiffel

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Lunch at a café… steak frites, of course!

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Peep #2 takes in the view of the square below from our apartment.

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We also came across this really cool sci-fi bar called “The Last Bar Before the End of the World.” Definitely my kind of place.LOL

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A message from the sidewalks of Paris!

We trained down to DH’s family home in the country and enjoyed 5 days of relaxing before heading back to Paris for a couple of nights before we came home.

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The gardens there were bursting with a beautiful bounty!

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Here are some random shots of the property:

France 2013

France 2013

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Truly, this was the trip of a life time and I’m so glad we were able to swing it!

Last big thing… for me anyway… a year ago this past November I got an adorable Mini Cooper S. I have never loved a car so much and the Peeps are convinced I’ve gone over the deep end! LOL But it’s a blast to drive (6 speed manual supercharged engine) and yes, it is my official mid-life crisis mobile. Or it would be, if I were having a crisis. 😉

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That is all for now. I’m going to try to be better about writing here, but I’ve said that before… only time will tell.