T-shirt Yarn

T-shirt Yarn

My family’s cotton t-shirts are no longer safe from my scissors & me.  I’ve discovered how much I enjoy cutting t-shirts up and converting them into “yarn.”

If you are into crocheting or braiding and are interested in upcycling t-shirts, then I’ve got 2 great links to share with you.

If you’re not into this stuff but have some t-shirts you want be rid of,  I’d be happy to relieve you of them.  The brighter and more obnoxious the color, the better.  I’ve got a project in mind that needs more shirts than Jin & the boys are willing to let me chop up… 

I’ve been kicking myself over the many 100% cotton t-shirts I tossed over the years.  All those corporate event t-shirts in loud colors that I hid so Jin wouldn’t actually wear them.  T-shirts from races.  T-shirts from school.  Just about everything donated to textile recycling.

And then I stumbled across this awesome tutorial that showed me how to convert most of a t-shirt into one long “yarn” strand.

First cut was the hardest.  I worried I’d botch the cutting and ruin a perfectly good t-shirt.

Turned out to be easy & really fun.  My cutting was a little crooked, but this became less noticeable after I stretched the fabric & the sides curled up.

This cotton “yarn” is the perfect stuff to work with on a hot summer day.

The question became – what to make with my new yarn?  Not interested in making potholders.  Had enough with baskets for the moment.  Something quick… something functional…

Found the perfect project – converting t-shirts into 5-strand braided headbands.

I ended up making myself 3 headbands.  Super comfortable.  Perfect for keeping my hair off my face in the summer heat.

Note – if you make a headband for yourself, be sure to heed the instructions & make it quite snug.  The fabric will stretch out  and you won’t want the headband sliding off too easily.

Now that I have a feel for this new “yarn,” I’m ready to make lots more of it and crochet myself a … ?  Care to guess what I have in mind?  Or perhaps make a suggestion?

Summer At Last!

Summer At Last!

We’ve finally made it to summer vacation.  Hip-hip-hooray!!

To celebrate the last day of school, Jin took the afternoon off from work.  We picked our boys up at early dismissal, stopped at home to gather up our swim gear and water guns, then headed out to celebrate summer, family style.

Lunch at Food Truck Court.
A little sunbathing.
That root beer float.
Walking along the water.
Stopping to watch the sailboats & sunlight glinting on the Hudson River.
Climbing and running about at the playground.

Happy Summer Everyone!

Thank You

Thank You

Just a few more days to summer break.

Then, at last,  it will be time to play.  Splashing through fountains.  Evenings in the parks.  Water gun fights.  Swimming (well, maybe… if only the new pool would open).  Root beer floats (my favorite).  Long afternoons at the library.  Trips to the museums.  Planting.  Art camp.  Read alouds.  Ice cream.  Lots and lots of craft projects. And of course, the main point for my boys… no school for two whole months.

Before I get swept away with all our summer plans, I just wanted to stop for a minute and thank our teachers and everyone else working at our awesome local public school.

To our tireless Principal, who knows every single detail of what is happening with her teachers and students.  To all our “specials” teachers – Spanish, music, art, gym, science, chess.  To the sweetest librarian ever.  To our infinitely patient parent coordinator.  To our school nurse, who treats every kid like her own.  To the ladies who keep our school safe and guys who keep the place clean.  To everyone working in the cafeteria, the front office and those assigned to individual students (but reach out to help all the other students as well).  And of course, to our steadfast & hardworking classroom teachers.

Thank you.

Thank you for….

  • Having the heart to be there for the children
  • Having the vision to put together all those impressive and creative study units
  • Reading aloud
  • Teaching children to love books
  • Teaching them how to discuss and write about what they’ve read
  • Being there day after day after day.
  • Not fleeing after some student has vomited all over your classroom
  • Teaching, not just through what you say, but through your every action
  • Inspiring your students
  • Holding certain library books on reserve and waiting for my “ok” before releasing it to my kids
  • Giving them band aids when they claimed they needed one – even if there wasn’t a scratch in sight
  • Getting to know every child
  • In fact, knowing the kids so well that you relay goofy anecdotes about my boys to me
  • Joking around and playing with them
  • Taking them out on all those field trips -even when the weather was awful and you must have wanted to stay home instead
  • Planning all of those field trips
  • Lesson plans
  • Lesson plans
  • And more lesson plans
  • Staff & grade level meetings you probably have to go to after the regular school day is over
  • Responding to my e-mails at night in your “free time”
  • Newsletters and regular e-mail blasts to all the parents
  • Parent-teacher conferences
  • Identifying subjects where my kids to concentrate
  • Letting me know when my boys were struggling to get along with other kids
  • Caring whether or not my kids were thriving
  • Dreaming up strategies to reach every student
  • Challenging my kids when they needed it
  • Reprimanding my boys when they deserved it
  • And even trying to get them to lighten up if they started taking things too seriously
  • Putting kids’ coats in individual plastic bags during lice season (actually, when is it not lice season?)
  • Inviting parents into your classrooms
  • Family Fridays
  • The Sing Along
  • The Art Show
  • Book Fairs
  • Your time
  • Your dedication
  • Your energy
  • You

You do so much to make every school day a successful one.  I am truly grateful.

Thank you for making our school such an incredible place to learn and grow.

Have a wonderful summer.  We’ll see you in the fall.

(One last Thank You to George of New York Plaza Florist for letting me take pictures of his gorgeous flower bouquets!)

Simon’s Summer Salad

Simon’s Summer Salad

Question:  What to do when your 9 year old calls your bluff and offers to make dinner?

My Answer:  By all means, step away from the cutting board and let the kid dream up dinner already!

It started when I decided to entertain myself by messing with my kid a little. 

We were walking home from our slew of Sunday activities.  I was tired, a little cranky and in no the mood to cook dinner.  I started throwing hypothetical questions out at Simon:

  • What would you do if I went straight to bed instead of taking care of you guys?
  • Would you make dinner?
  • Would you try to use the stove or would you think of something else?
  • You do know you’re not allowed to use the stove, right?
  • What about Ethan?  Would you make dinner for Ethan too?
  • Exactly what would you make?
  • Do you know where all those ingredients are?

Simon’s responses went something like this:

  • Play
  • Sure, I’d make dinner
  • No, not the stove
  • Of course I know I’m not allowed to use the stove
  • Sure, I’d fix something for Ethan.  And you too
  • Salad.  Like we made at Urban Farm yesterday
  • Uhhh… you could show me

At that point, I looked at Si utterly deadpan and pronounced his answers satisfactory.  He was officially in charge of making dinner.

His eyes widened and his mouth dropped open.  Then his whole face broke out in a huge grin and he announced he would indeed make dinner for us.

I had a moment’s panic when I thought of possible disastrous endings to my boy making dinner.  But then I thought, well, why not?

We arrived home with a renewed sense of energy and purpose.  Simon washed up and immediately started prepping his salad.  I set Ethan up in his play kitchen so he could prepare a “second dinner” for us with his fake food.  Then I puttered about tidying up the kitchen, occasionally giving a cutting demonstration and dispensing advice.

Here are the ingredients Simon used in his very tasty salad:

  • Romaine lettuce
  • Fresh mint leaves (harvested from our windowsill garden)
  • Turnips and their greens (from the Urban Farm)
  • Carrots (from the Urban Farm)
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Oven roasted deli turkey
  • Medjool dates
  • Slivered almonds

He washed everything that needed to be washed, got acquainted with the salad spinner, then tore and chopped to his heart’s content.

To make the salad dressing, we decided he would be the executive chef and I would be his sous chef.  Here’s what I whisked together for him:

  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • Olive oil (@ 1 tablespoon)
  • Honey (1 big dollop)
  • Dijon mustard (@ 1 teaspoon)
  • Salt & pepper (just a pinch of each)

Simon’s salad was delicious and filling.  Ethan’s “second dinner” was a lot of fun too. 

The boys claimed to have created the recipe for the dressing when they were cooking with Per and Malte during our day at the Urban Farm.  I wasn’t completely convinced of it, but no matter. 

I was just happy I didn’t have to cook dinner, surprised and tickled that Simon was actually capable of putting a meal on the table and so, so proud of him for stepping up and doing it.

Out & About Battery Park City

Out & About Battery Park City

My boys & I had another one of those jam packed days this weekend – fishing, farming, crafting and more.  Unlike our Grand Day Out, which involved schlepping all around Manhattan,  on this day every activity took place within a one mile radius of our home.  Hurray for Battery Park City and all its summertime activities.

We actually had a rocky start to our morning.  We were out of sorts because Jin was leaving on a business trip.  He’d come home from another trip just the night before, only to unpack and repack.  He was tired, harried & rushing for the airport.  I was pooped out from our school week and fretting over a week of no Jin.  The boys were trying to be good sports about the whole thing.  They’d prepared his Father’s day gifts early and presented them to him the night before.  But they were none too pleased with this trip either.  My low point came when Ethan wrapped himself around Jin’s leg and emphatically repeated No!  Daddy, don’t go.  Daddy don’t go!

Sigh.  Quite frankly, I was ready to attach myself to his other leg & demand the same thing.

Of course I didn’t.  And of course, he had to go.

Luckily, the day itself was gorgeous.  Bright blue skies.  Warm sunshine.  Cool breeze.  Battery Park and the promise of a beautiful day beckoned to us.  I hurried the boys through breakfast, then took them out to meet the day.

First stop:  Go Fish at Wagner Park.  A free catch and release program sponsored by the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy.  Fishing poles, bait and a slew of folks ready to help kids & adults experience fishing and learn a bit about life on the Hudson River.

I refused to touch the wriggly worm parts or the chopped up clams.  So Si & E learned to bait their own hooks.  The first warm was the roughest.  It took some screwing up of courage and tamping down of squeamishness to handle the worms.  But they did it.  By the end of the hour, they were baiting hooks like nothing to it.

Much to our surprise, Ethan actually caught a fish!

Simon pulled in a chunk of seaweed…. which  turned out to be an interesting catch when we discovered the live baby mussels growing on it.

Both fish and seaweed were released back to the river.

Next, we were off to the Battery Urban Farm for the activities I was so excited about in last week’s post.

We harvested and washed beets, carrots, mustard greens, lettuce and turnips.  There’s something strangely satisfying about pulling root vegetables out of the dirt.  A tingle of anticipation and excitement every time something edible pops out of the ground.  I highly recommend you try it sometime.

The hot sunny day meant watering the plants too.

The Urban Farm staff lovingly set up a picture perfect Farmstand to entice passersby to stop and purchase the freshly harvested produce.

I made sure to be the Farmstand’s first customer.  We took home beets, mustard greens, sweet little turnips and a big bag of carrots.

We also had the pleasure of meeting Per and Malte; German artists touring, cooking and exploring their way through NYC community gardens and galleries for the next two weeks.

Would you believe the first thing these guys did when they arrived in NYC was to use salvaged materials to construct this cart?  I gotta say, I meet the most interesting people everyday…

Si & E accompanied Malte to the lettuce beds to harvest their choice of salad fixings.  While I was shopping the Farmstand, Malte taught the boys how to put together their own salads – including the dressing (more on that next post).

Last activity at the Urban Farm was a natural dye workshop with Sandy Hartmannsgruber.

Sandy dyed all the yarns you see in the above picture.  Gorgeous colors, don’t you think?

For our workshop, we had a choice of dying a scarf and some lengths of wool yarn in coloring made from either turmeric or cochineal.

Did you know that cochineal is an insect?  

… I didn’t…

My knee jerk reaction to finally understanding we’d just used a bunch of dead bugs to make that pretty purple color was to flinch, grimace and then gesture wildly to Ethan to put our scarf in the pot of yellow dye…

Much as I liked the pretty yellow of my turmeric dyed scarf, I did suffer some regret when I saw the brilliant purple scarves the more bold (and less bug-fearing) participants took home.

You’d think our day was over, huh?

Not sure what got into me, but after our many outside activities, I decided we really needed to go watch a movie…

So we managed to fit in a movie and then it seemed only right to try out a new neighborhood restaurant…

It’d been quite a day.  Certainly packed full of fun activities and fantastic people.  My tuckered out little boys and I sat back to enjoy our dinner.  We talked about what we liked best from our day.  We conjectured where Jin was at that very moment.  We planned where we’d go for our rescheduled Father’s Day.  Then I lifted my glass of wine to them and said to Daddy.  They grinned back at me, raised their water glasses up in the air and in one voice, shouted back – to Daddy!