The Whirly Girl

Archive for the ‘at home’ Category

I bought my first basket of pears at the farmers market yesterday and that can only mean one thing:  Summer vacation is over.  A new school year is here.

I’ve been contemplating how I will do life this school year, primarily because it will look slightly different from years past.  For the first time since graduating from college, I’m not working full-time.  No, we’re not having a baby and Scott didn’t change jobs.  The part-time teaching is an attempt to do several things: maintain my sanity, begin weaning our budget off of two incomes, make time for more homemade/hippy endeavors, etc..  Truthfully, maintaining sanity was the reason I initially decided to take the part-time plunge, with the others resulting naturally from the decision.  And, truthfully, it could go very badly–but I don’t think it will.

Lots of things made part-time work even a possibility, namely working at a small, private school that is willing to exercise flexibility and a marriage in which both spouses are generally okay with the other doing what they want (it helps that what we want basically includes him playing poker with the boys once a month and splurging on the occasional steak, and me creating more time in the day to make homemade cheese and grow tomatoes for pizza).  So, two weeks from now I’m starting the experiment of splitting my days more evenly between school and home, and we’ll see how it goes.  Until then I’ll be remembering how to write a lesson plan and eating all those pears.


Now that summer is here, I’m finding myself in need of a new routine.  If I don’t have a routine, I won’t get anything done.  At all.  While I don’t have students in need of attention starting at 7:55 each morning, there is a small garden to keep alive, a tiny flock of chickens to tend, and chores in the community garden.  Throw in a tutoring student, a stack of books, and some cooking, and that’s my summer.

In the spirit of a relaxed routine, because it is summer, after all, I decided the best way to get everything done is to divide things into outside and inside tasks.  So, I get up in the morning and work on things outside until I can’t stand to be in the heat anymore, then I come inside and divide the rest of the day between reading and keeping up with whatever needs to be done around the house.

And it is so lovely.

School got off to a surprisingly smooth start.  (Weird.)  So work is going pretty well and I’m having a relatively good time teaching Latin to all 67 of my little darlings.  (Some are more little and darling than others.)  In an effort to give myself a better balance of home and work this year, I’ve started getting up about 5 a.m. most mornings to knit and maybe write a bit before getting ready to leave.  It’s probably made me a little more tired, but it’s just blending in with the regular back-to-school fatigue and barely noticeable.  (Yes, I am a morning person.)

What is noticeable is how much calmer I feel walking out the door each morning.  I haven’t driven to work crying once.  (This is actually an accomplishment, embarrassingly enough.)  I do feel a bit wistful when I leave because I’ve usually gotten into a good homey/crafty/creative mood by the time I need to get dressed and head out, but still—no crying.

Tonight I hadn’t had my fill of domestic goodness, so the evening’s agenda included homemade pita bread, coconut pecan brownies, and felting a potholder.  Does someone want to hire a knitter/baker/homebody?  I think I’m getting pretty good at this.

As mentioned before, I am a teacher by school day.  One of the lovely perks that comes with this job is summer vacation which, in my opinion, just balances out the l-o-n-g workdays August-May and all those lunch breaks you don’t get.  I digress.

Summer vacation ended last week when my school started on Wednesday.  I spent a good bit of the summer wondering if teaching was still “my thing” because I had such a feeling of dread everytime I so much as thought about the upcoming school year.  If teaching wasn’t for me anymore, I was in big trouble because while I am truly qualified, through experience as well as official teacher training, to teach, it is the only thing I’m qualified to do.  I did a lot of thinking about vocation and if everybody has one.  What if I didn’t want my calling anymore, if I did still have one?  What does it mean that I think I just want to hole up at home forever, cooking and knitting and container gardening?  What changed between the first teaching experience I had at 18 that made me sure beyond the shadow of a doubt that I wanted to be a teacher and now, when just talking about the upcoming school year literally made me tear up, and not with tears of joy?

Through all of that I deduced several things: I still love teaching, love Latin (yes, I’m a Latin teacher), and love working with kids.  What I don’t love, and in fact hate, is being away from home for so much of the day.  I don’t love coming home too tired to even want to cook dinner, when I love to cook.  I don’t love spending all weekend doing the chores I didn’t get to during the week, instead of resting and hanging out with Scott.  So, the problem isn’t with teaching, but with being away from home for most of the day–I don’t like it.  I’m one of those people who doesn’t have to leave the house everyday to be happy.  I am usually much happier at home, working at my home-y things, than out somewhere else.  I wasn’t weeping over teaching, but the prospect of having to choose it over other things at home for the next 10 months with much of a balance.

So, as I’m back-to-schooling this year and enjoying my new crop of young Latin scholars (who are wonderful!), I’m also dreaming of the day when leading a productive life doesn’t mean 10 hours away from home each day. 

I watched this video this morning about making your bathroom eco-friendly and thought it was great.  (Thanks, becentsable!)

We have already taken some steps the video listed.  We also have CFL bulbs in our bathroom.  I do use vinegar for cleaning purposes sometimes, but need to get better about using it for more things.   We have also been in the process of switching our chemical cleaners with natural ones like Nature’s Source.  They cost more than vinegar, though they are not pricey, but I feel a little skeptical about vinegar as a disinfectant.  Is this unfounded?  Please tell me if it is!

I am trying to figure out the whole natural shampoo, soap, etc. situation.  I am more than willing to admit that I sometimes feel torn between only putting things on my body that I would put in my body…and the fact that my shampoo and conditioner for curly hair works really well and I like the way my soap smells.  A lot of all natural products are considerably more expensive than the good old chemical-laced ones, which is also an issue for me.

I do feel I’ve made some steps in the right direction:

        coconut oil–I use it as a moisterizer on my face, not the virgin kind because I don’t think I could handle smelling like a coconut all the time.  (I know you’re not supposed to need moisterizer til your “old” but I’ve needed it since I was about 13.)

       epsom salts–I use this as a facial scrub to get rid of the flaky skin.  I also think it might absorb some oil.  Wet your finger tips, dip them in the salt, and scrub away.

        Kinky-Curly hair gel–Unlike coconut oil and epsom salts this product was not cheap, but it has no chemicals or artificial scents and I decided I could splurge on my most recent visit to Whole Foods.

What have you done to green up your bathroom or other parts of your home?


I don’t know about where you live, but where I live it’s hot as blazes.  While this is normal for the summer months, the heat hit triple digits early this year, so everyone is good and wilty right about now.  My plants are struggling to stay alive.  The thyme actually burned up during a particularly hot spell, even with daily waterings. 



While I chose being too hot over being too cold, I have also had just about enough.  Regardless of how anyone feels, however, we are still in for at least a month of the heat.  Then it’s just mildly uncomfortable til about Halloween–I’m barely kidding.  Anyway, given that it’s almost August I’ve had some time to think about some ways to keep cool at home without moving into your refrigerator or running up at astronomical electric bill.

  • Close off rooms/vents to rooms that aren’t occupied.  If no one is guesting in the guest room, it doesn’t need to be graced with air conditioning.  Our house is cooled by two window units (yes, window units in central TX are mildly ridiculous), one in the bedroom, that also cools the attached office, and one in the living room that cools it, the dining nook, and the kitchen.  The bedroom and office are out of direct sunlight in the morning, so I work in the office and do chores in that part of the house then, keeping the bedroom door closed and the living room AC off.  When those two rooms heat up in the afternoon I set the bedroom AC at about 84, move to the front of the house, and turn the living room AC on.  (About dinner time the bedroom AC gets turned down so it isn’t a complete sauna when we go to sleep.)
  • Run errands and do active chores in the morning.  I take care of my plants and do any cleaning and hanging out of the laundry first thing in the morning.  Then I run any errands.  Bonus: the grocery store is pleasantly uncrowded in the mornings.  Afternoons are a good time to take care of more sedate things like paying bills, folding clothes, and reading through your RSS feeds. 
  • Use your crockpot and bread machine.  Dust off these counter space-consuming appliances and put them to work.  They use less energy than your stove and oven, plus you get the good-food-is-cooking smell without heating up your kitchen.
  • Drink up.  If it’s summer you’re going to sweat and drift more toward dehydration than normal, so drink lots of water.  When that gets old, try sparkling water.  When that gets old, I switch to diet Coke or iced coffee–there are worse vices.
  • Take cool showers before bed.  Take advantage of the fact that you don’t need to turn on the hot water anyway.  A cooler showernwill help you stay comfortable temperature-wise while falling asleep.

If all else fails, eat a popsicle and google pictures of the North Pole.  Summer can’t last forever.


One thing I am learning from my husband is how to entertain well.  I love spending time with friends, provided I have enough of the proverbial “me time”, but I’m usually hesitant to cast around invites.  I was the child afraid of talking to anyone.  At all.  I’ve come along way, people, so I believe I can be cut some slack when I fall into introvert slumps. 

However, I mustered all my southern belle genes and invited my co-workers over for appetizers and other goodies last night.  We’d all gone to a restaurant with appetizer specials after work a few times and, at my social husband’s promptings, I thought it would be fun to gather at a home instead of a restaurant.  And gather we did.

We ate baked brie and fruit and pecan bars and veggies and bruschetta–the majority of which were prepared by my wonderful husband.  We talked about our students and next year’s contracts and how ready we were for summer.  We laughed hysterically.  For almost four hours.  It was lovely.  I should hostess to the mostest more often.

what was left of the brie

what was left of the brie

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June 2018
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