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Posted by on Feb 25, 2016 | 2 comments

Life in the Montessori Classroom: Part 2

Life in the Montessori Classroom: Part 2

Today, we continue our tour of the The Del Ray Montessori School, highlighting various aspects of life in a Montessori classroom and many activities that anyone can replicate at home. In Part 1, we toured the elementary classroom (a mixed group of children ages 6-12). Today, we observe a primary classroom (a mixed group of children ages 2 1/2 to 6). After I quietly observed one morning, I met with the primary 3 teacher, Carolyn Haas, to hear more about some of the ways the younger child build their concentration skills, independence, and coordination of movements. This little girl is intent on methodically cutting apple slices, one apple after the other for as long as it takes her.  At the same time, she’s preparing a snack item for her classmates, an act of courtesy and caring in her “community.” Carolyn spoke a lot about this idea of “building community,” which is what she’s emphasizing in this newer classroom. A majority of the children in this class are on the...

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Posted by on Feb 19, 2016 | 6 comments

Zen Doodle Chair

Zen Doodle Chair

For the past few months, I have been practicing Zen doodle whereever I can, either in my sketch book or on a pumpkin. You can doodle anywhere. When Leslie approached me about zen doodling on her white chair, I couldn’t pass up the chance. We met at Emma’s and got started together. Before putting the pen to the chair, I thought about where to put the first doodles. I could go up one of the vertical legs or go across a slat for example. It took some planning because the pen is permanent and there would be no going back. Once we got started, everything started coming together. I took the chair home and worked on it in my spare time. I used a black sharpie pen. Not just any sharpie, an acrylic paint sharpie. You can get them at Staples. Slowly over time, the doodles took over the chair. I especially loved making the mandala on the seat. My cat even enjoyed posing on the chair. When I...

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Posted by on Feb 18, 2016 | 0 comments

Making an Immune-Boosting Fire Cider Tonic

Making an Immune-Boosting Fire Cider Tonic

To ward off colds and flu during these remaining weeks of winter, I made an immune-boosting tonic with some friends called fire cider. Together, we concocted a terrifically spicy blend known for its healing powers using a mixture of spices, vegetables, and fruits that we bought at our local market. We used fresh horseradish root, turmeric root, ginger root, onion, jalapeno and habanero peppers, oranges, garlic, rosemary, and honey. Although the recipes for the traditional folk recipe vary somewhat, they all say to steep everything in apple cider vinegar. We gathered the ingredients, and then peeled, grated and spent the next hour chopping and dicing everything… This extremely pungent horseradish root packs a mean sinus-clearing punch. And look how bright and orange fresh turmeric is when bought as a root. We put everything into a big pitcher. Eventually, the mixture is strained, so it’s okay to have big chunks floating around in it. We transferred the mixture into jars and then covered them with saran wrap before putting the...

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Posted by on Feb 16, 2016 | 1 comment

DIY Home Repair: Replacing a Garbage Disposal

DIY Home Repair: Replacing a Garbage Disposal

If you’ve ever wondered if you need to call a plumber to replace a broken garbage disposal, the answer is no. This is a simple home repair you can do yourself. After our 10-year-old disposal went kaput, we researched online how to replace it and realized it was a quick and easy job. We picked up the same model we had before, the Badger, for about $100 at Home Depot. According to the employee we talked to at Home Depot, if you are replacing your disposal with the same kind you currently have, the job is even easier because you don’t need to worry about the sink flange, which I’ve heard can be tricky to replace. Since we’re dealing with a hard-wired appliance, we turned off the power before we got started. The Badger came with detailed instructions — this post is just an overview — so make sure you refer to the instructions before you begin. In general, all you need to do is detach the disposal from...

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Posted by on Feb 12, 2016 | 1 comment

The Charles Hill Park Bird House Collection

The Charles Hill Park Bird House Collection

This post started with a tip from a friend in Del Ray about an impressive collection of bird houses in a neighborhood park. And, true to my friend’s word, I found about 25 bird houses of all shapes and sizes hanging from the tree branches at Charles Hill Park on the corner of Oxford and DeWitt Streets. The person who’s responsible for the bird house collection is Pat Miller, a well-known Del Ray resident who runs the Del Ray Farmers Market and Art on the Avenue, and is involved in countless other civic and community organizations. The park is named after Corporal Charles W. Hill, a former member of the Alexandria Police Department who was killed in the line of duty in 1989. Pat is friends with Hill’s widow, Ginny Hill-Obranovich, who also thought the bird houses would be a lovely addition to the park. I met the two of them the other day for a tour of the collection. That’s Ginny on the left and Pat on the...

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