Wednesday, April 6, 2016


One of the things my husband and I do for recreation and relaxation is go hiking in the mountains or along ocean beaches. It's what we do on special weekends, or when we're too stressed and feel the need to get away from it all. It's something we've been doing since before we were together as a couple. It's our history, our celebration, our hobby. On the surface, this is a pretty frugal hobby; just walking in the woods or on a beach can't be too expensive, can it?

Well, we have a tendency to go a bit over board. One of our favorite hikes is a 2 hour drive away, and one we were intending to do today is a 3 hour drive. So that's a lot of time and a fair amount of gas. Then, we also often splurge on hiking foods, more expensive than our normal fair- trail mix, chocolate, nuts, protein bars- all unnecessary of course, but we still do it.

Anyway, the point of this post is that we had been kind of talking around and thinking about the incongruity of driving for an hour or more to go walk somewhere (an admittedly beautiful somewhere). Wasting time, money, and spending unnecessary time in a car to do something that we probably could do just as well closer to home. Today, for the first time, we said no to our original, far flung paths, and choose a destination much closer to home. Instead of a 3 hour drive and a ferry ride, we drove 30 minutes (to the town we'll be living in next year), parked our car at my parents' house (we'll also sell the car next year), and rode on a really awesome bike trail (for 35 miles, which may have been a mistake since it's been over a year since either of us got on a bike...).

And it was a really awesome, laid-back, relaxing day! We got all of the benefits, with none of the drawbacks. I know it's a relatively small thing,  but it's pretty huge for me, and it will help us save a lot of money over the coming years. And it's really about the shift in mindset; getting more with less.

Here are some of the money saving changes we're looking to start this year:

0-1 roommates => 2-4 roommates

Eating out once or twice a month => potlucks once or twice a month; if we do eat out, we share one entree.

Driving an hour or two (or more...) by our selves => finding good walks, hikes, and bike rides in our town; carpooling with friends for out of town adventures.

Having a car => not having a car.

Buying food from the grocery store => volunteering at the coop for a discount, buying in bulk, growing a garden, foraging for fruit over the summer.

Buying clothes new => going back to only buying used clothes, or clothes on super discount (I don't want to buy shoes, socks, or underwear used, for example, so they will be bought on discount).

Going out to the movies => board game nights at home with friends.

These are shifts that will save a lot of money, and most of them will actually improve our quality of life. This is what frugality and simple living is about; looking at your options, and getting more quality of life, enjoyment, savings, etc, for less money, time, and effort. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Starting Sweet Potato Vines

We started a sweet potato growing in my class this year as part of the curriculum, and while I don't expect to be able to harvest any actual tubers from it, I do want to try to grow it as part of our summer garden. Even if I don't get any tubers, it turns out that sweet potato leaves are edible and nutritious, and I bet I can grow enough to make it a worthwhile green.

Back in the fall, this project was started by putting a sweet potato in a jar half filled with water. When it eventually grew roots, I planted the whole potato in a pot, with half of it sticking out. By the time spring break came around, I knew I needed to take it home because one of it's vines had grown to about 2 feet in length and was falling over.

So, I brought it home, and took section cuttings off of each of the main vine. After removing them from the mother plant, each cutting was stripped of it's bottom-most leaves to prevent any chance of them rotting once they were submerged. And, here they sit in a jar of water, in the next phase of this experiment.

And this is an experiment- I don't know how it will turn out. I don't know anyone who grows sweet potatoes outside here in Washington state, I don't know what variety I'm using, and I don't even know if I'm going to like eating sweet potato leaves, or if any of these will root and eventually form tubers. Too many uncontrolled variables for sure, but I look forward to learning from the experience, if nothing else.

Monday, April 4, 2016

What I want to do with my non-teaching time

Or, in other words what I do when I'm not being a computer-based bum. And are cheap, free, or generate income of some kind.

- Go on really long walks in the woods and on the beach. We're talking hours here.

- Cook lovely, delicious food.

- Garden, or do garden-related projects.

- Taking close-up pictures of plants, animals, and fungi.

- Potlucks, board game nights, and movie nights.

- Going on hikes and camping trips, ideally with friends.

- Teaching others about plants and animals, food, gardening, cooking, etc.

- Learning about nutrition and longevity.

- Bike. Really long bike rides.

- Yoga, acroyoga, and handstands.

- Meditation and journaling.

- Foraging for and preserving foods. 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

To Do List for April 4th, 2016

This will be the fourth day of my spring break vacation. Casey will be at work for a significant chunk of the day, and I don't want to get sucked into the computer while he's gone, so I'm writing my list here and will up-date it with what I actually do tomorrow:

- Make food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
- Plant the purple potatoes I got.
- Clean the house?
- Spend 1 hour on school planning.
- Plan food for Tuesday.
- Plan Wednesday's trip; including picnic and stopping points.
- Go to acroyoga.
- Mow the lawn.

What I actually did:
- Made Breakfast and Lunch
- Bought Nettle picking gloves
- Picked a whole bunch of nettles.
- Planted the purple potatoes
- Took cuttings from my sweet potato start
- Made a blackberry-blueberry crumble for the potluck
- Forgot the crumble
- Went to acro.

The Last 10 Weeks of School

     I haven't blogged much here in the past three years. If you look, I didn't blog even once in 2015. In these past three years, I went back to grad school, got a Master in Teaching degree, and started working in a middle school, teaching math and science. 

     It has taken a lot out of me. For both years of the MiT program and this first year of teaching, it's been a constant struggle to get enough sleep, eat enough and eat healthy, and try to feel like I'm alive and it's all worthwhile. This year has been just as difficult as the MiT program, but in different ways. I love working with the kids, but I've really struggled to be the teacher I want to be for them. It's been very discouraging.

Which is why I'm going to try to make the best of the remaining 10 weeks of school. The first three weeks are going to be a major push for preparing the kids for the standardized test. It's going to be hard for everyone, teachers and students, and then I expect that the students' motivation to learn will be sapped for the remaining 7 weeks of school.

To be honest, I'm already dreaming of summer, and even now, on my third day of spring break, I'm having a hard time making myself think about this stuff. I'd much rather pretend it wasn't going to happen, but it is, so I'm trying to do a bit of preparatory work to make it less painful, stressful, and frustrating when I'm living it. 

Ideas for the Last 10 Weeks of School:

- Have a challenge for advanced students for each standard.

- Have extra practice worksheets tied to each standard for the students who need a little extra support.

- Have team building/class building/fun activities twice per week.

- Have the basic out line of the ten weeks written out before spring break ends.

- Have 5 half-hour to hour long "Oops!" lesson plans that are fun, engaging, easy, and pre-planned so they can just be shoved in when ever they are needed.

- Make 1 project per standard cluster.

- Make less things for me to grade.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Seed Starting

Starting small this year; the three closest to the view are sweet basil, and the other three are roma tomatoes. These will be grown inside until they can be moved outside after the danger of frost has passed.

I'm also going to try growing herbs indoors during the winter this year, so we'll see how that goes.