Saturday, February 18, 2017


Preparing for the Lesson 1896 painted by Hugo Loffler. 
Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons


I studied my arithmetic, 
And then I went to bed, 
And on my little pillow white
Laid down my little head. 

I hoped from dreams of dear delight, 
Of sugar-candy bliss;
But oh! my sleep, the livelong night, 
Was filled with things like this. 

Add forty jars of damson jam
To fifty loaves of cake, 
Subtract a cow, and tell me how
Much butter it will make. 

Then add the butter to the jam, 
And give it to a boy, 
How long will 't take ere grievous ache
Shall dash his childish joy?

If twenty men stole thirty sheep
And sold them to the Pope, 
What would they get if he should let
Them have the price in soap?

And if he slew each guileless beast, 
And in pontific glee
Sold leg and loin for Roman coin, 
What would his earnings be?

Next, if a Tiger climbed a tree
To get a cocoanut, 
And if by hap the feline chap 
Should find the shop was shut;

And if ten crabs with clawing dabs
Should pinch his Bengal toes, 
What would remain when he should gain
The ground, do you suppose?

Divide a stick of licorice 
By twenty infant jaws, 
How long must each lose power of speech
In masticating pause?

And if these things are asked of you, 
While you're a-chewing of it, 
What sum of birch, rod, pole or perch
Will be your smarting profit?

I woke upon my little bed 
In anguish and in pain. 
I'd sooner lose my brand-new shoes
Than dream those dreams again. 

Oh! girls and boys, who crave the joys
Of slumber calm and deep, 
Away then kick your 'rithmetic
Before you go to sleep!

-by Laura E. Richards

I discovered this poem in a book entitled "Five Minute Stories" by Laura E. Richards, one of my favorite poets. 

A Solution to Painful Math Lessons
I have discovered, by long arduous experience, the best way to tackle math books with my students: we do half the lesson (sometimes the whole lesson) orally.

The lessons take so much less time now! It is also good for the memory, good for the attitude, and Whew! to get that math lesson out of the way in 15 or 20 minutes rather than half a day is such a relief to my students! And I no longer have the boring task of standing over them to make sure that they do their lesson.

So much of the math books are review: review of yesterday's lesson, review of some skill unused for a few months, or a review of last year. Of course we know the value of this-- to cement in the children's minds the things they have learned by frequent practice. But when faced with a page of simple multiplication review problems, my third grader would glaze his eyes, look out the window, play with his pencil, and slump for sheer boredom. Cutting down the amount of these review problems was a little help, but still we had the really long math lesson happening. Bribery can only do so much. I even had a time when we skipped the easy review problems altogether--only to have trouble later on when it was obvious that some of the facts were not at the ready.

Just turn all those review kinds of math problems into oral drills! You'll be surprised at how fast it will zoom by! The children also get momentum from seeing so much of their math lesson disappear, that they can do the paper and pencil part with alacrity.

Not only that, but they will be able to do more and more complicated math in their head. I am finding that my 4th grader can do nearly the entire daily lesson orally, and in record time. There are no tears and no more frustration. And, I hope, no mathematical nightmares like Mrs. Richard's!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Cookie-inspired Cards

Happy New Year! I know that most of you have snow laying around to look at, but here is a photo of mine:)

Last month my mother showed me the cover of the latest Victoria Magazine, and said that one of the gorgeous pastel cookies on the cover (the one with the cameo) would make a pretty card. 
This has to be one of my favorite Victoria covers-- I love all the colors and how much better can you get than cookies and roses?

Here is my take on a cameo/silhouette card inspired by cookies! I flipped the idea of the cameo though: instead of the silhouette being embossed, it is flat, and the background is textured.

 I ran pastel card stock panels through my Cuttlebug with different embossing folders, and tried to keep the center clear by using a homemade "Embossing Diffuser" with an oval cut-out. 
The silhouette is a free image from Call Me Victorian, I put it into my Scan N Cut, then mounted the cut out on a bit of foam tape. I put a thin oval frame around the silhouette, and mounted the panel on a white card.
I chose two kinds of silhouettes-- the differences being the hairstyles. The one on the left reminds me of the Gilded age, and the one on the right reminds me of the Regency period. I chose backgrounds that I thought went with those looks.

I got pretty tired of trying to keep that homemade embossing diffuser centered (it is just a piece of chipboard, not a folder), so decided that the silhouette also looked good with the embossed pattern across the entire panel behind it. I also decided that it looked good without a frame-- the more I could pare down the faster I could go and the more cards I could make! Simple=elegant was my motto for this card.  I also experimented with bolder colored backgrounds, and white backgrounds with pastel silhouettes.It would have really been nice to add some gold accents, had I had the materials. 

I love the idea of using fancy iced cookies for card inspiration!  I've started a pinterest board to explore the subject more.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Franz Schubert-- Lob der Tränen

I heard this piece on the radio this morning. I don't know which is more beautiful-- the piano version or the classical guitar. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Little Peach Hand Pies

We interrupt these fascinating and invigorating blog posts to bring you dessert fresh from the orchard!

A neighbor came by this morning with a bucket of little golf-ball sized cling-stone peaches. This neighbor grew her peach trees herself, from pits planted one year (next time you eat a peach, plant the pit in the yard and check next spring and see what happens!). I thought I would maybe try my hand at some fried pies later on after dinner, but time got away from me to make pie dough and since I believe in processing fruit as soon as possible, I decided to just slice and freeze them for pies later.

But the idea of crisp little peach hand pies wouldn't leave me, and though I knew I didn't have time to make a pie crust from scratch, it occurred to me that the tortillas I was about to cook for dinner could do double-duty as pie dough!

The result was crispy and good. I am 99.9% sure that any dough you have on hand would work for this; from egg roll dough (for wee pies)  to puff pastry, biscuit dough or some wonderful buttery dough you happened to whip up and store in the freezer for your creative gourmet moments.

This recipe will warm the peaches but not cook them like a regular baked peach pie. Personally, I find a warm, ripe peach is mushy enough for me!

My little peach hand pies:
makes as many as you want

Tortilla Land ready-to-cook tortillas (or any ready-to-cook dough)
Little peaches (or soft fruit like plums, or maybe berries?)
Oil for frying*

Slice the fruit, drizzle honey over to taste, sprinkle cinnamon to taste, and put one or two big spoonfuls in each tortilla. Moisten the edges of the tortilla with a little water, fold in half. Pinch and fold the half-moon side. Fry tortilla pies until golden. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve immediately.

*I never feel comfortable pouring half a bottle of oil in a pan to fry. I just put 1/4 inch in a small pan and baby sit the item being fried, turning it several times. 

Here's an option for you: These little peaches are so little, that if I had peeled them there wouldn't be much left to eat. I didn't have time to blanch them and so I sliced them peel and all. This doesn't bother my family since I often include the apple skin, pear skin, and plum skin in my in-a-hurry big country style pies. It isn't company-style perfect pie filling I know; just lower your standards and call it "rustic country pie filling." remembering all the good nutrition that is in the skin!

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