You, in three songs.

I have been obsessed with this Fuel/Friends blog post since it went up in September. I'm home this morning thanks to a midday dr appt to check on my summer back injury (since apparently 2014 was the year my body completely fell apart. Six months healing my torn PCL followed by mystery incapacitating back injury that started July 1 followed by being sick ALL FALL--today is literally the FIRST DAY in 33 DAYS that I can fully hear out of my left ear), so I thought I'd whiz by and drop by a blog post on you. Then Safari crashed and I had to start all over so...this may not go up until tonight. ANYWHOSIT...

Here I am. This is me.

Take It on the Run, by REO Speedwagon
My favorite song since high school (yes I'm that old, I was entering high school when it first came out!). Ah, high school relationships. "Talk is cheap when the story is good" indeed. I was involved in a long-term relationship in high school with someone possibly even more violently moody than I am, so to say I spent a lot of time wondering what was going on behind the scenes would be a massive understatement. The way the singer vacillates between (I paraphrase) I totally don't believe you cheated but you better run away if you did is such a microcosm of all young relationships isn't it. Or just ME in relationships as short-term, long-term, friends before, never friends, no matter the situation it always feel both super serious AND super precarious to me. I also love the whispered quality of the beginning and end--this isn't really being sung to the object of affection, it's being muttered to oneself, while worrying, worrying, worrying. Yup, me to a T.

Bonus: my other favorite high school songs are 1) "You Shook Me All Night Long" by AC/DC possibly the best song in the entire world and I maintain that Back in Black is one of the world's top 10 all-time albums; and 2) "Slow n' Easy" by Whitesnake. Nuff said.

(Bonus 2: check out this hilarity. COME ON the lyrics are not that confusing.)

Weather With You by Crowded House
Gee, another song from 20+ years ago, who could've even guessed. My mom has always claimed that I'm such a strongly mooded [sic] person that it always wore off on all the people around me--if I'm in a good mood, suddenly the whole room is. And, unfortunately, VICE VERSA. I don't know if I truly believe it, but I do see the effect of my mood on my classroom very strongly these days. That's part of what this song is about for me--my emotional weather is how the world feels no matter what the sky looks like. Also not just in this song but in so many Crowded House songs, clever unexpected lyrical allusions just get me: "Julius Caesar and the Roman Empire / couldn't conquer the blue sky." They probably tried though!

Bonus: If you don't know it, you MUST listen to "There Goes God." The lyrics are amazeballoons. Here, lemme give you a sample: "Hey, don't look now / but there goes God / in his sexy pants and his sausage dog / And he can't stand Beelzebub / because he looks so good in black, in black." COME ON NOW. Also: Crowded House is one of those rare groups where their fast songs and their slow songs are equally fantastic. They could do ANY style well.

Stop Draggin' My Heart Around, sung by Stevie Nicks & Tom Petty
The first single from the fabulous Belladonna album that I still listen to quite often, even though it's, you guessed it, 20+ years old. There's another duet on this album also ("Leather and Lace" with Tom Henley) but Stop Draggin' is by far the superior tune. This is also the album with the fabulous "Edge of Seventeen", the compelling beginning of which was sampled in "Bootylicious" (Destiny's Child). Basically this is the album no one should have ever stopped listening to... I mean I haven't! And clearly Beyonce hasn't either. Why is this song me? Well...I'm a bit of a typical pisces. Despite being born on the cusp, I have a completely overloaded empathy gene and man I can get my heart dragged around by so many different things. I have to work pretty hard to protect myself from falling apart at times. Just in case, say, I randomly see a commercial filled with Americana, a red pickup driving down a dusty country road past two boys tossing a baseball OMG WEEPING JUST THINKING ABOUT IT. Kidding...but it has happened. I've started crying WHILE READING ALOUD to my students (Martin's Big Words, SOB). I teared up during an interview while talking about how important literacy is. The world has dragged my heart around so many times, and that's not even thinking about relationships.

So those are definitely my all-time three, although at any given moment I could certainly come up with a "right now three" that would be entirely different.

What three songs tell YOUR story?

posted by Duff on December 02, 2014 | Comments (2)

I told you I painted my classroom, right?

It's not perfect but it looks at least 9 bajillion times better than it did before the paint job!!!

Almost ready 1

I'm standing by one of my doors and the other door is down at the other end of the white board.

I'm kinda standing where I'll be sitting during my read alouds (the kiddos will all be on the rug for those)

Almost ready 2

Those closet doors won't usually be open but I was busy taking things in and out. Doesn't my green paint look lovely?

Almost ready 3

In the back is my guided reading table but you can't really see it under a couple boxes and piles of books I am still sorting. ;)

Almost ready 4

Almost ready 5

Almost ready 6

One more day that's all just MY prep. Then Wednesday we start officially with a full day of meetings, Thursday and Friday probably half day of meetings and half day doing our own thing or meeting in grade level and content level teams. Then Monday off, and the kids start Tuesday.

I'm sure on Tuesday I'll actually be FINE but the last five nights have been serious pre-school stress-anxiety insomnia. HELLO BRAIN, please turn off.

posted by Duff on August 25, 2014 | Comments (4)

A summer project I should have taken on earlier

is adding all the 97 bajillion blogs I read to bloglovin' instead of you know individually going to their links every day searching for new posts. Heh. Yeah I'm old. But it's going to 97 years from now by the time I've got them all added.

I figured I might as well claim mine while I'm at it.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

posted by Duff on August 24, 2014 | Comments (1)

Latest obsession: capsule wardrobes.

As you may or may not know, I generally take an picture of my outfit every morning (during the week, while teaching, not so much on the weekends or summer) not only so I don't just wear the same thing every day (I'm serious about that, btw) but also so when I am stuck in the morning with that dreaded "I HAVE NOTHING TO WEAR" feeling, I can always take a quick glance at the photos to find an outfit I'd come up with in the past. :) Heh.

And part of what that makes you think about is how you actually use your clothes and how effective (OR NOT) your closet is and your buying process.

I had read about Project 333 numerous times but there isn't really an ongoing, functioning (in the way I'd like) blog there. The site puts the idea out there and occasionally posts something but there's never really been an ongoing review of the process or a way to see it being put into action.

And then this summer I started a massive purge of my apartment b/c basically my apartment was stuffed full of things that were being unused or ignored, some of which hadn't been touched in YEARS, as well as lots and lots of clothes that no longer fit but were being saved for that far-off (and possibly, probably, imaginary) day in the future when they fit again. And one of the things you discover as you're going through even the clothes that fit is how many of them you only rarely wear, as they fit but you don't like them or they fit but they go with nothing else you own (or with only ONE thing you own, so each time you wear them they are part of the same outfit and then can't be worn again for weeks).

In the midst of purging and considering all this, I found Un-Fancy, which is JUST a blog of someone's capsule wardrobe really. She posts her capsule for the season and then every day she posts her outfit so you can see her capsule actually in use. (I got to her via an interview on Into Mind, which is more like Project 333, in terms of presenting ideas and strategies but no daily blog). I wish there were a million more blogs like Un-Fancy but the only others I've found (with regular daily posts) are not capsule wardrobes but people with a million clothes.

I haven't officially made a capsule yet...and if I wind up doing it, it'll start in October I think (oct-nov-dec), but I decided to sort of start experimenting with the idea. After my massive purge, I divided my clothes into 2 lots basically (cold weather vs warm weather) and only the warm weather ones are currently hanging in the closet. I put all the hangers backward for now, they get turned forward as they get worn, and started thinking about what is something I actually wear often, what things does it go with, what COULD be in a capsule together and what OTOH might not actually be an effective piece to keep in my wardrobe.

With that in mind, here is some experimental capsule dressing.

Experiments in capsule dressing.

The plaid seersucker T I would also wear with my green cargo pants and my plain black skirt, neither of which has been seen here yet. And in actual year-round planned capsule dressing, I wouldn't be rotating through the tops/skirts in the same consecutive-day way...but in experimenting, I wanted to think about what goes with what and how things interrelate, if you will.

I got rid of a TON of t-shirts in the purge (most too small) but I can tell I have too many still, or too many that I just don't really wear very often and why do I need those hanging around. ;)

Still pondering if I will do this and what will be in my fall capsule if I do (noting that I have no income at all this summer so I really won't be able to purchase even fill-ins until probably October itself after I've gotten a few checks!!), but having fun seeing what parts of my wardrobe fit together and which don't.

I also love that Un-Fancy didn't come up with a specific number (33, or whatever) but rather "what number is going to work". I had mentioned to Steph that I have never in my life I am sure had 9 pairs of shoes in rotation--which is part of what Un-Fancy has in her 37. But I keep thinking that maybe I SHOULD have more shoes in the rotation as that adds more variation to what you can do with each outfit. But finding 9 pairs of shoes that fit and are actually comfortable enough to wear all day (given my messed-up, prescription-orthotic needing feet) is actually a bit of a challenge.

Still pondering. We shall see.

posted by Duff on August 07, 2014 | Comments (2)

I've got about three weeks of summer left.

And while I had big ideas about all the craft projects I would work on this summer...what I actually did instead was conduct a massive purge / reorganization of my apartment. Which, yes, was a long-time coming...but still. I was feeling kinda bummed about my lack of creative projects this year so far. And then I realized that, hello, until this summer, I actually DID work on a creative project once a week all year long! My Project Life album!!!

It is really silly how happy working on this makes me. So last night I realized I had let myself fall about 7 weeks behind (the last page I finished was from the last week of school!), and sat down and BAM just like that I did 4 weeks in a row. Wow. Feeling so much better. and you know, ever so slightly creative. :)

I worked on pages from weeks 25 and 26 when I saw many (MANY) of my cousins in two different locales, as well as my parents

Week 25, page 1

Week 25, page 2

Week 26, page 1

Then a sort of hybrid week (part of vacation fell in week 26 and part in week 27). I am going to add some journaling on that 4x6 card later.

Week 26 / Week 27

And the two weeks at home after that

Week 27

Week 28

I still have three more weeks to catch up on but I'm loving this album so much, I'm so glad I decided to do this project this year. Although....I am a little worried about how full my album is getting. Too many times I decided to do an insert page! Or too many embellishments? Who knows, but I am determined to fit in all in one so it may be QUITE chubby by year-end. We'll see.

OH and I did back and baste this quilt top that was pieced back in... 2012 (GASP)

Pinking it up.

So I'm hoping to quilt that later this week, as well as quilt up a mini quilt I made my friend Bertha that started in 2013

5.5 episodes of Veronica Mars = 9 paper pieced hearts.

Two episodes of Southland, four letters, or 1 June.

Just need to back and baste that one and then hopefully I can knock out the quilting on it also!

So while I feel like on the one hand I've done NOTHING but teach all year...there are some creative bits starting to creep out here and again. Maybe I can maintain a better balance this next school year. MAYBE. *Fingers crossed*

posted by Duff on August 05, 2014 | Comments (1)

My fabric-lusting eyes (bark) are so much bigger than my actual-sewing bite.

I am completely obsessing over this lovely elephant skyline knit fabric (also seen here). So I said to myself "OK I can buy it once I've made four garments!"

Then I looked in my mostly apparel fabric closet.

The mostly apparel fabric closet.

HAHAHAHAHA WHO AM I KIDDING I CAN NEVER BUY FABRIC AGAIN. (And this isn't even a drop in the bucket of the quilting weight fabric...)

So I started sorting.

Reasons I can't buy more apparel fabric

There are bottom-weight fabrics

Reasons I can't buy more apparel fabric

knit fabrics

Reasons I can't buy more apparel fabric

Reasons I can't buy more apparel fabric

dress weight fabrics (voiles, seersuckers, poplins, etc)

Reasons I can't buy more apparel fabric

Reasons I can't buy more apparel fabric

Good. Grief.

And when was the last time I sewed a piece of clothing? August 2013. So yeah I'm using up my stash SO FAST that I will likely die before I've even cut into HALF of it.

Well. At least it's reorganized.

That's better.

So there's that.

posted by Duff on July 23, 2014 | Comments (2)

Sunset in Saugatuck.

If you follow me on Instagram, you'll know I went on a PROPER SUMMER VACATION this year, a lovely almost-week in Saugatuck, Michigan.

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It was a beautifully summery place, full of cottages and quirkiness. We stayed in a lovely little (LITTLE) place called The Nutshell, the perfect size for two humans and one canine who spent most of their time in beaches and bars. ;)

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I read a lot, rewatched some movies, listened to tunes, and most importantly RELAXED.

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You know, when I moved to Chicago, an NYC friend worried that I'd be land-locked here. I don't think people who haven't been to the Midwest truly understand the size of the great lakes. This lake pictured here? It reaches all the way from Saugatuck, where this photos was taken, over to my apartment in Chicago!

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I like to call it the Midwest Ocean. It's got everything you expect from an ocean--tides, waves, seaweed, nibbly fish, etc.--except SALT. And maybe jellyfish, I'm not sure about that one.

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If you enjoyed my week on Instagram, you might enjoy it on print? I only put it public there b/c I needed to give it to a friend--the version I printed for myself has a lot more pictures of ME up close & personal heh but the one publicly on Blurb is mostly shots of the charming surroundings with just a few of us.

Hope you're finding some time to relax this summer yourself!

Unfortunately relaxing has gone out the window since I got home and began the Major Apartment Purge of 2014 (random capitalization FTW and to drive my online friends nuts hahahahaha).

That's all for now. Peace out.

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posted by Duff on July 19, 2014 | Comments (1)

Sewing / Quilting Ladies:

People who like sewing stuffed animals:
Does anyone out there want the supplies to make sock monkeys (and/or other sock animals) ? I have a bunch of both the original sock monkey socks as well as some snowboarding socks AND instruction books to send you if you'd like.

People who quilt:
Anyone want a big bag of scraps? All quilting cottons, 100% cotton, nothing smaller than say 5" square unless it's a 2" strip.

Let me know, this stuff will all just go to goodwill if you don't want it. Or the sock monkey stuff will go to goodwill and some of the scraps will just get thrown away.

posted by Duff on July 18, 2014 | Comments (2)

Yo, quilters and knitters.

I listed a bunch of quilting (and a few knitting) books on Amazon if you're interested. Most are old-fashioned looking but obviously you can make old patterns with modern fabric and it will have a very different look.

I'm trying to cut down on my shall we say MASSIVE RIDICULOUS personal possessions this summer so I'm putting books I have never done anything but flip through up for sale (while still keeping a few, heh) and if they don't sell in a couple weeks, they'll find themselves at good will.

I will probably add a few more as I continue to dig through that bookshelf.

posted by Duff on July 04, 2014 | Comments (0)

Oh, Chicago. A beautiful city with delicious food hidden away all over the place.

A Visit to the Calumet Fishery 3

I'd never been to the Calumet Fishery before and it was quite delicious!!

A Visit to the Calumet Fishery 1A Visit to the Calumet Fishery 2

A Visit to the Calumet Fishery 6

A Visit to the Calumet Fishery 4A Visit to the Calumet Fishery 5

Tomorrow I get to go pack up my classroom to move downstairs. Tuesday we finalize stuff for the summer and then vacation begins. CanNOT wait!!!

posted by Duff on June 15, 2014 | Comments (2)

Y'all know I love winter, but this spring has been a long long long time coming.

Springety Sprungety 1

Springety Sprungety 2

Less than a month of school left. Hoping I can hold on to my sanity that long!!!

posted by Duff on May 24, 2014 | Comments (2)

I went to North Carolina for the weekend and when I came back it was winter again.

These pictures, however, were taken in 2010. Heh.

A slice of Winter Prairie

Winter weeds

Garfield Park

So bittersweet to find Lauren in these negatives. Sniff. After I was just texting her yesterday asking when I would be able to see her and Peto!!

Laughing Lauren

posted by Duff on April 16, 2014 | Comments (1)

Winter just keeps on keeping on.

Today 3

Today 4

Today 5

posted by Duff on February 02, 2014 | Comments (4)

More pretty winter for ya.

The steam rolling off Lake Michigan was epic.

Hot lake on a cold day.

Yesterday, lakeside.

I love the frozen winter harbor.

I love the frozen winter harbor.

A half formed stone monument? A square snowman?

Ah, my favorite subject, lonely trees.

The steam rolling off the lake.

I put up a vid of the lake if you're interested.

Laters, peeps.

posted by Duff on January 07, 2014 | Comments (2)

Winter, yer so pretty.

New Years Eve.

I love how the branches up top drop out and it's like the tree is sending a lasso out into the sky.

posted by Duff on January 05, 2014 | Comments (2)

Year of making...almost nothing.

Yup, I only finished 8 things in 2013. (With a few random quilt blocks thrown in here and there, not represented here since they didn't actually amount to a THING.)

Finished in 2013.

One quilt which was done in JANUARY so basically a year ago, two cowls, one skirt, one T shirt of questionable fit, and three dresses, one of questionable fit. Truly sad.

1. NewBee Green quilt is done!!!, 2. Second finish for 2013! Crappy pictures of another finished cowl, 3. Chunktastic Cowl #4, 4. New skirt Thursday., 5. Butterfly Staple Dress, 6. Washi dress finished FINALLY., 7. Fairly wearable Scout Muslin #2 (knit version), 8. Staple dress #2

SIGH. You know, when you finish a LOT of stuff people always ask you where you find the time. Well, you just do. It's here and there and everywhere and honestly yes I had a busy year and yes I had a lot of stress and I taught summer school so I basically had 10 days off total all summer long but STILL... There were plenty of times when I was doing nothing, for hours. Plenty of times I could have been doing stuff.

Oh well. I guess I was just too tired. Hoping for better in 2014.

I started a scarfy thing for a friend:

Trillian begins.

I made one tiny sweater for Truly's stuffed rabbit and I have another underway:

Tiny Rabbit Sweater!

And I really really REALLY need to get back to work on this since it's from a swap that ended probably over a year ago!! I SUCK.

5.5 episodes of Veronica Mars = 9 paper pieced hearts.Two episodes of Southland, four letters, or 1 June.

And I'm hoping to make it through a few quilts, maybe these to start?

1) Herd of Hedgehogs
a 9-patch that needs a backing and to be quilted obviously
Pinking it up.

2) Interlocked
all cut but needs to be sewn together, backed, quilted
I know you all picked the all-solid red option...

3) Swoon
1 block made, 8 more blocks to go...
Swoon #1: super drama mama (summer 38)

We'll see. I pretty much never end up working on the thing I intend to be working on, so...

posted by Duff on January 04, 2014 | Comments (1)

Peace Out, 2013.

This was really a quote about Christmas, but it actually applies to all of life.

The choice is ours to make, how we live into the possibilities of Christmas.

Here's to better choices in 2014. Bring it on, possibility.

hblad 62: 'Blad Bokeh.

posted by Duff on December 31, 2013 | Comments (4)

RIP Bella Schmella Schmoo.

My friend Carrie's dog Bella died yesterday and I'm oh so so so very sad about this, I couldn't even express to you how much. I loved her very dearly.

Spotlight on Bella

Bella ponders her kingdom.

Bella streeeeeeetch.

Bella scared.

Bella Schmella Schmoo

She was super camera shy as you may have been able to tell but I'm so glad I took her picture anyway.

33/52 me & Bella, cuddlin' on the couch

I'll miss you sweet sweet girl.

posted by Duff on January 26, 2012 | Comments (7)