Hometown Views: Schools

Hi all! Last week Lisa from Boondock Ramblings and I started a new blog feature called Hometown Views, where we share different building, traditions, memories all from our hometowns. We started this because during our online friendship we have enjoyed comparing the areas we live – rural to suburban outside Detroit. Last week we shared our libraries – this week, we are sharing our schools!

First up is my old elementary school, Washington Elementary, built in 1930. All the schools in our city are named for different presidents. Washington is one of four elementary schools in our town; when my parents went to school in this very same city as little elementary schoolers, there were six! And those are just the public schools. My best friend went to Catholic school, just two blocks down from Washington. At one time in addition to the six public elementary schools, there were seven Catholic schools as well. Currently Wyandotte Schools matriculates around 4600 students through its halls.

The elementary schools are Washington, Garfield, Monroe and Jefferson currently. When I was kid, we also had McKinley and Taft. Washington was where I attended – and met a little boy named Billy. We shared a double desk in third grade. I was super quiet; he was super chatty. I believe I was put next to him to get him to stop talking as much but he didn’t need me to reply to talk. He would also eat part of my lunch in exchange for drawings he would make me. Little did I know that one day I would marry him and we would have Wyatt! I also got to have my favorite teacher twice – Miss Caruso. She taught first grade, then later when I was in fifth grade, she was the fifth grade teacher. I still chat with her on Facebook every so often.

I obviously can’t show you the inside – but let me tell you, it is beautiful. It has Pewabic tile murals, gorgeous marble floors, and like all the other elementaries, a greenhouse. Although it was never used, which I thought was odd. It is pretty big! I remember being a little second grader who could read above my grade level, and so I was sent to one of the third grade classes upstairs for reading. I had to walk the big lonely halls and go up the stairs. I remember being so nervous!

Wilson was my middle school. At the time I went, there was only one middle school. When my parents went to school, there were three. That crazy baby boom right? My mom went to Wilson as well, while my dad went to one that is no longer open.

Wilson was built in 1956 – and it looks so totally mid-century modern, doesn’t it? A few fun facts: My mom and grandparents and aunt and uncle went here for their polio shots when that happened. And it is also a bomb shelter. I also voted here for years until they switched our polling location. It does have a nice size track that in the evenings and during the summer you can see people from the community using for running or walking.

I remember not enjoying middle school – it’s like the worst right? However, I did learn while at Wilson that I loved swimming, and joined the swim team, something that I continued to participate in all the way until I graduated. In middle school I swam back stroke and breast stroke, while in high school I swam butterfly and freestyle. My grandpa was actually on the swim team in school too – he swam back and freestyle. He was so good at it too – I have clippings of articles from the paper all about him and his swimming prowess. I love that we shared that. I also learned that I was terrible at home ec. My grandma actually sewed my final project for me, a dragon stuffed animal. But shhh, don’t tell anyone!

Finally dear old Wyandotte high, Theodore Roosevelt High School. It is huge. I had a tough time trying to get a photo of the entire building, so I found one taken by Dwight Burdette that was posted on Wikipedia. The photo of the front of the building I found online but couldn’t find the photographer’s name.

It extends to the annex building in back. There is a tiny little hall from the second floor over to the annex, which during my time housed the science classes and music rooms. Behind the annex is a giant greenhouse for the botany class, something I was not interested in during high school but wish now that I had been. It was originally built in 1923, but has been added onto three more times, the last time in 2004. The main staircase is magnificent. Seriously, I loved using it, it felt so grand. My mom also remembers my dad being escorted down the stairs by an angry teacher one time, for probably being a bit of a smart butt in class. The library is two stories, the gymnasium is two stories with an indoor track, there is a pool, an auditoritum, and coolest thing of all…. a planetarium. Bless Mrs. Bens for taking us there, it was really neat. She always started the presentations by playing The Beatles Here Comes the Sun, Wyatt’s current favorite. We would all snicker because we were super cool but now I appreciate what she was doing so much more. I am not sure if the planetarium is still functional or not. There is a football field, a weight room, an auto shop, and all the other shop classes in the vocational wing. I was the last student to take four years of Latin, by the way. I was the only student in my Latin 4 class. My teacher, Miss Berens was pretty amazing. I also reconnected with that kid Billy I shared a double desk with back in third grade when I was here. We would sit in the hall, at the top of the ramp leading to the band hall, and chat before school started. Billy was such a rebel in school – he had a mohawk and would ride his skateboard down through the halls. On Halloween he used to dress like a skeleton and do it. I was not. I was a bookish girl who never talked and would eat lunch in the library. But as they say, opposites attract!

Gwen Frostic, a Michigan artist and journalist attended high school at Roosevelt. She was a Rosie on the lines during the war, and set up an art studio in northern Michigan, near Beulah. I am actually planning on stopping in on our trip! I have always loved her work, and I think the personal hometown connection clinches it for me. I have also read that she may have had a mild form of cerebral palsy but I am not 100% on that.

I couldn’t take many pictures today. The school was in use by various people and I felt sort of weird trying to get photos but, I found these fantastic photos by a man named Brendan Gutenshwager, so many of the interior and with a 360 view as well, if you are interested. I did grab this one of the bear mascot. My freshman year the swim team had a different mascot, the Turtles, and I loved that. After that they made us go by Bears and I hated it. Turtles just made more sense. My swim coach Mr. Roddin was pretty awesome, even if he did make us practice at 7 am on Saturday mornings.

.

And there you have it – a small tour of my public school days. So many memories! One of the schools is for sale, it is so gorgeous, similar to Washington. I would love to buy it and make it my house, wall off the playground and use it to homestead. Wouldn’t that be cool? Although it looks like someone did buy it to turn into senior apartments.

Be sure to check out Lisa’s post today as well! I know that I am looking forward to seeing what she has posted, she is a brilliant writer and photographer!

And we had some people ask if we were going to make this a link up eventually. We talked about it and have decided that we would love that! We are still figuring out the timeline so the date is TBD. Our topic for that week is hometown churches. We would love it if you would join us!

DIY Shampoo Bar

I love shampoo bars! I moved away from traditional shampoo and conditioner a few years ago in an effort to reduce our plastic consumption, and I have to be honest, I never expected to prefer them over regular shampoos! I have found though that my hair is healthier and more manageable since I have made the switch. I am also enjoying the unexpected side effect of less clutter in the shower!

Last summer my sister-in-law Chrissy showed me how to make shampoo bars, and since then I have been off and running. There are a few ways to make soap and shampoo bars and depending on my available time, I switch it up. Well, we are going on vacation next week and I needed a new batch – I am down to a small sliver! I don’t have time for the longer version of the process, so I opted to make a melt and pour batch, my go-to in a pinch. They are quick and easy, especially when you keep the ingredients on hand, which I do. So the other day I whipped up a quick batch of patchouli scented shampoo bars just for me! Billy is not a fan of the scent for himself, but I have always loved it, so I indulged myself a bit by making this batch. It took only half an hour or so to make them, with an hour or two of waiting for them to cool and set! Super easy, super fast, super sustainable. Plus with this recipe there is no fiddling about with lye!

(This section contains Amazon Affiliate links. If you choose to purchase them I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.)

For my basic shampoo bar, you will need:

  • 1 lb. melt and pour soap base (I use the goats milk version but there are others)
  • 1 tsp. Shea Butter
  • 2 tsp Jojoba Oil
  • and your fragrance. The amount varies based on the fragrance used, Brambleberry has a calculator to help you use the appropriate amount. Since I used Brambleberry Patchouli in medium strength, this recipe called for 0.28 oz of fragrance.
  • Soap Mold – I like this one from Amazon or this one from Brambleberry
  • a double boiler or, if you don’t have one, a small pot with a baking safe bowl set on top works. I use an old pyrex bowl actually when I make soap.
  • Rubber spatula to stir, measuring spoons

When you have all of your ingredients, you can start!

  1. Get your water going and measure out your ingredients. Cut your soap base into smaller pieces, as this will help the soap to melt easier.
  2. Put your little squares into either the top of the double boiler or your heatproof bowl. Place on top of the pan with the water, which should be at bubbling away. (some people use a microwave. I don’t have one so I do it on the stovetop)
  3. You don’t want the heat to be too high, I leave mine set between low and 2, and keep stirring to make sure it melts evenly. You want all the bits to melt and form a nice milky consistency. When you have achieved this, remove from heat.
  4. Next, mix in the shea butter, the Jojoba oil, and fragrance. If you are getting fancy you can add color to your bars in this step too. For this recipe I kept things simple though.
  5. Once everything is all mixed in together, simply pour into your mold. Then wait for it to completely cool and harden. And you are done! You have made a shampoo bar!

And really that is it! If you end up making a few, let me know!

Our Butterfly Project – (A Brief )Update #6

It’s been a sort of slow week for us with the butterflies. We have caterpillars eating and growing, and a few in chrysalis going through their metamorphosis. I did have one male Black Swallowtail eclose last night, in the evening as the sun was setting so he had to spend the night. I released him first thing this morning and he was ready to go. I named him Kerouac.

It’s also been a sad week. I read some people keep their cats in enclosures outside, so I had some monarch caterpillars outside on the porch, not too hot or too cold, not too sunny or too shady. And something happened to them. I am not sure what although I suspect that someone in the neighborhood sprayed pesticides and it drifted over to our yard. Which is upsetting for many reasons, but it also shows just what these species have to survive through. I moved the survivors into a clean enclosure with all new food and keep checking on them, hoping they pull through. I will bleach and rinse the mesh enclosures today and get them all clean and sanitized for the next group. Update: All but one caterpillar survived!

I haven’t been bringing in any new eggs or caterpillars in the past week or so. We are going on vacation next week and I have to pass on the ones that I have to my friends to take care of for me while I am gone and they have their own as well, so I didn’t want to overwhelm them. When I get back however, I will pick up where I left off, in time for the big migration and super monarchs. The monarchs that eclose in late August and early September will be the monarchs that make the flight south, to Texas and Mexico. I am bummed that I did not get tags this year but I will for sure next year. So Texan friends, keep an eye out next year for my butterflies!

So right now we are in a holding pattern over here. Leslie from Once Upon a Time and Happily Ever After suggested little video updates on this project, maybe permanently embedded in the sidebar, and I am considering that, especially with the big migration and big monarchs coming soon.

And this is where we are this week! Slow going right now with some weeks of growth and a week off next week, then big things coming soon!

See my previous updates here!

Update #1

Update #2

Update #3

Update #4

Update #5

My Sunday-Monday Post

My Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer
Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz
It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date

It’s official. I am in a reading slump. I don’t think it is the fault of the books – I think I am unable to concentrate right now on reading. I just can’t settle in. I am in a sort of busy frame of mind, and can’t keep still lately. And at night when I am still, I just fall asleep. Lol. Next week we will be on vacation, heading up to northern Michigan, and maybe then I can sit and relax and read – I have big plans for reading on the deck in the mornings. I’m just going to take all the books I have been trying to read with me, and see what works. If not, there is always Kindle and Amazon. And bookstores in vacation towns!

And we have air conditioning! Last week we were sweltering and then Billy spent a whole day working with his cousin, a heating and cooling guy, and they replaced our ancient A/C and furnace. Wyatt and I spent that day and night at my mom’s while Billy put in a long day. We are also getting my mom’s house to put on the market, and today Billy, my brother, my SIL, and I put in another long day working on her place, just shining it up and taking care of a few things. I feel like one more day spent there and it will be ready. She has been living at my late uncle’s condo while we do this work on her house, taking care of the kiddos along with my SIL’s mom.

I did have some success reading last week. I went back to one I picked up a few weeks ago, and this time I was able to read it a bit. Not as much as I usually read but it is a start! I barely remember it from the first time I read it, but I think I am already loving it more than the first time around.

I am just sticking with what is working and reading this one this week.

As for television, we are watching Sweet Tooth. I love it. Like, really love it. It is sad and hopeful and cute and quirky and I am just really enjoying it. Other than that, we are not watching much else. We pretty much are exhausted and conk out early. Our vacation will be so refreshing for us!

Last week my bloggie friend Lisa at Boondock Ramblings and I debuted a new feature we are working on together, Hometown Views. We both are posting about places and traditions and things we would want to show each other in our hometowns, and our first post went up last Wednesday. It’s all about our libraries! I also posted about my butterfly project, and about my garden – and the green tomato cake that I made.

And that is about it from my little corner of Michigan! I hope you all are doing well!

Notes from the Garden

My small garden has been going a little wild lately, with the amount of rain and the high temps we are having. So wild in fact, that our tomato patch started to form its very own land mass that we had to deal with it. I chose to sacrifice a few plants in order to free up some breathing room for the ones I left behind, and then we properly caged the ones left standing. However, the ones we pulled out had so many green tomatoes growing already that I couldn’t just throw them in the compost pile. So, I gathered them up and brought them in. And then had to decide what to do with them.

Someone online suggested fried green tomatoes, so I added cornmeal to my grocery list. I always loved that movie by the way. But I knew there was no way I could eat a billion slices of fried green tomatoes. So I stuck some in a brown bag to ripen and that left about five or six that still needed a purpose. After some googling, I found a recipe for Green Tomato Cake. Which frankly, sounded weird but we had all the ingredients, and Wyatt was up to try it, so we went for it. And it was good! Like really good. It is more like zucchini bread than cake in my opinion, but Wyatt wanted frosting on his piece, so I guess his was more like cake. We did not add raisins (because I loathe them) or nuts (we didn’t have them) but it still was fantastic.

I felt pretty proud of it! I am not a baker, I can make bread but struggle with anything else, and this turned out so good. Plus, I made it from scratch and from using up tomatoes from our garden! Now I need a plan for all the kale… so much kale….

Freeing up space and getting the tomato plants sorted paid off immediately in the garden as well. I went out the next day to find two red ripe tomatoes! We are going to have tomatoes in abundance this year! I plan on making salsa and lots of BLTs. Lol.

And that is it for the vegetables that made it. I know where I went awry this year though in my planning, and have a plan for next year. We are also adding in two beds next year as well – I like to do things bit by little bit. So next year, two new beds of veggies, another flower bed, and maybe a small pond if we get ambitious. I would love to do that this year but other projects take precedence. I keep saying in the fall, in the fall.. which is not that far away! I am going to have to reconsider my list of ideas and plans!

Our pollinator garden is always buzzing too, quite literally! I see flying creepy insects (like Great Black Wasps!) out there all the time, mixed in with cute little honey bees and adorable bumblebees. I had to look up Great Black Wasps, they are very intimidating looking in appearance, with huge black bodies and blue wings. I learned they are actually a friend to gardeners, as they kill grasshoppers and katydids – I love grasshoppers and katydids but we do have a ton! Nature at work, right here in this small patch of garden. Our pollinator garden is made up of so many different plants for butterflies, but other insects seem to love them too – as do hummingbirds! We have forget-me-nots and blanket flowers, verbena, black-eyed susans, nettle, butterfly weed (which I just learned is a type of milkweed, good for monarchs!), sage, rue, lovage, dill, bronze fennel (I always find black swallowtail caterpillars caught up in this plants greenery), lemon basil, and a cola plant. The cola plant was one I stuck in there years ago when I made a sensory garden for Wyatt – it smells just like soda, hence the name!

Another plan for next year is to remove what is left of the chain link fence and replace it. I want wood, something natural.

Our front garden area is full of yarrow. I saw it at the garden center and fell in love with it, so I planted like three or four of them. I also have brunella, butterfly weed, raspberry bushes, and lavender in that area, and I love to look out at it in the morning. This morning I saw a tiny bunny checking it out.

Gardening to me is.. a place to be creative. To buy the plants that call to me and find places for them. To provide shelter and food for insects and animals and for us as well. I love that I can change it up and add to it. And you can just keep going and going until you run out of room. You can buy plants or start from seed. There are so many options, flowers, veggies, night gardens, shade gardens, pollinator gardens. There is always something new and different to see when I visit the garden. I can’t wait to see what else we do with the things we grow this year, and I am already excited to start planning for next year.

Billy better get his shovel ready!

Hometown Views: The Library

Hi everyone! One thing I love about blogging is the people that I “meet”. And while we have never actually met, Lisa from Boondock Ramblings is someone I love sharing stories with, photos, chatting about our day – she has become a friend, even though she lives states away from me. We message back and forth throughout the day, and one thing that we share with each other are the goings on in our communities, and talk about the differences in where we live. She lives in rural Pennsylvania; I live in the most populated county in Michigan, right outside Detroit. The views outside of our windows, what we see everyday, is very different. And I love hearing about the dairy parades, the trips through the narrow winding mountain roads, the bear that lives in her neighborhood. She also sees cool bugs and sends them to me, since I am such an insect person these days. One she sent the other day, the Rosy Maple moth is one that is only found in her area! It was so pretty and I would not have known its existence without her sending me that picture.

Anyway, we have teamed up to share some of our hometown views on our blogs. When we talked about it at first, we decided to look at it like, if we were to visit the other, what would we like to share with them about our hometown and area? And since we are both lovers of words and reading, the library was only natural. You can see Lisa’s post here – she is an amazing writer and photographer, so I am sure you will enjoy it!

The library has always been a place I have loved. My mom introduced me to it when I was just a little girl, and I started taking Wyatt right away too. The three of us have been checking out and reading books from this library our whole lives. When my mom was younger, this is the part of the library that she used. She remembers my aunt taking her there to read, and later hanging out in the rooms on the upper floors in high school.

It began its life in 1898, as the family home of Edward Ford, and later the home of his daughter and her husband, Mark Bacon and Mary Ford Bacon. It is a grand old dame, with 27 rooms and 11 fireplaces, a four story bell tower, and a huge porch. In 1942, when Mary’s husband died, she gave the home to the public school system and it now serves as the public library, and has since at least the 1950s. When my mom was younger, she remembers more of the home being open, as it was the main part of the library. Now only a small part of it is open to the public, and it holds meeting rooms, reading rooms, and periodicals. I love to go and sit in the reading rooms, and in college I would study there as well. No one uses those rooms too much, which is sad but at the same time, I like that when I go, it is almost like my own quiet getaway.

I feel so fancy sitting in here. These next photos are of the Max Schwartz room, which was the children’s library area when my mom was little. I picture her sitting on the window seats (where the old Life magazines are now), reading her favorite books, glancing out the window occasionally.

The rest of this floor is for the current periodicals and meetings and crafts. I love that they have figured out how to make this beautiful space work for the needs of people now, although I can’t help but wish it was still just the library in here, all the books spread out. But I know it is not practical or accessible to all! I can’t even take my son in there without using the little elevator to go up to the next level to enter. So I do see that it is not possible. But I can dream of what it was like! They had the upstairs closed off while I visited the other day, I think it has not completely reopened due to the pandemic, but upstairs are offices and rooms that can be used for meetings. When I was on the board of an animal rescue group, we used to have our meetings up there.

It is under construction right now, but when it is not you can sit on the porch and read which I of course love.

However, the area of the library that I grew up using is just through the door and down a few stairs. Out of the frame to the left is an elevator for those who need to use it.

The main part of the library now. I sat at these tables often in high school, and have been browsing these stacks since I was a little girl.

The children’s area. It usually is a bit more lively and filled with more displays, but they just reopened the library and are in the process of setting everything back to normal. I did see they are doing a chicken hatching demonstration for the kids.

I also took some time to wander around outside, while Billy and Wyatt read on the steps. I of course had to take photos of my guys.

This library has been a refuge for me for years, and I love that Wyatt enjoys going as much as I did as a kid. Three generations, one library.

How about you? Are you a library lover?

To read about more charming libraries, hop on over to Lisa’s post!

Our Butterfly Project – Update #5

Good morning butterflies! Good morning caterpillars! This is a pretty common thing in our house these days, greeting all of our little friends that share our space, however temporarily. Wyatt still remains more in love with the caterpillars than the butterflies, but the magic of a watching a butterfly emerge from the chrysalis then fly away into the wind never gets old to me.

Last week all of our butterflies emerged from their chrysalis! At the time of my last posting, we had 14 monarchs in chrysalis, and 1 black swallowtail. As of today, that group, which I am calling The Toad Hole group after my friend Kelly’s house’s “name”, are all living their lives, free and wild and gathering nectar and hopefully creating more butterflies.

One morning I woke up to 6 butterflies! I actually had to work that morning, but I work for my cousin, and he is working from home these days, so I took them with me to release there. You have to give them some time to allow their wings to dry, and they would be ready while I was working. So, the butterflies went with me. And as a bonus, his daughters were there too, and got to watch and help out.

Although I had to laugh at myself, driving with a car of butterflies. I wonder what they thought, if anything?

So last week was all about these beautiful creatures – releasing them and collecting eggs for the most part.

I am planning on keeping a running tally though for those who are interested of the number of butterflies released, either in the sidebar or somewhere else. Maybe a whole dedicated page? I’ll have to see what works best. I am also hoping to start tagging monarchs, but I need to order the tags today or it won’t happen. If I do, it would be really cool to see if my blog friends down in Texas find any of the monarchs that I release! Tagging happens in the fall, we will see if I can order the tags today, since I think today is the last day to order!

So, the breakdown of butterflies last week:

14 released monarchs : 5 female (Janet, Scarlet, Wendy, Penny, and Freya) 9 male Larry, George, Peter, Frank, Captain, Loki, Odin, Thor, Fenrir.

1 released Black Swallowtail – male, Cavendish

If you are wondering why I am doing this, here is a great article. I can’t imagine a world without butterflies, can you? I remember going to Jack Miner in Canada as a child, and seeing trees just covered in monarchs and thinking it was the most amazing, wonderful, enchanted thing I had seen. I want to take Wyatt one day so he can feel that too.

My Sunday-Monday Post!

My Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer
Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz
It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date

This week was yet again another busier than I wanted week. Things should be much much better by next week – and we will have air conditioning too! Yay! Today we are camping out at my mom’s while a new furnace and a/c unit are installed – Wyatt is actually coloring with my mom right now as I type.

Read Last Week/Reading This Week:

Nothing. I was dismal at reading last week. I had so many good intentions but they went out the window sadly. I have high hopes for this week though. I am switching my plan – I think I need something not so serious and Bacchanal is sitting on my Kindle. I love this cover!

Posted Last Week:

A Cup of Morning Coffee

Italy in July

Our Butterfly Project #4 (look for #5 this Tuesday instead of Wednesday!)

Watching:

The Tour de France, and last week I also watched Shark Week! I love shark week and I have been watching it for longer than I would care to say.

Super short post today! How are you guys doing?

A Cup of Morning Coffee

Maggie likes to sit right next to me when I am working. She matches my “Strega Nona” mug perfectly. Lol.

My office is one of my happy places these days. It is so full of life in here, my lizards, my butterflies, the plants. The scent of dill and fennel from the caterpillar tanks remind me of being in my garden, and combined with the green wallpaper, the desk, the carpet, it just feels so peaceful in here.

I’ve thought a lot about my “happy places” this week. It’s been a rough week honestly, with lots of ups and downs, emotional moments, and frankly just all topsy-turvy. I’ve had to actively seek out those places and things that can ease my soul this week, fitting them in where I could. Time spent in here definitely is one of those places.

Another is outside in the butterfly garden. I love just being near all that beauty, observing the insects that are buzzing around, going about their own little lives in this place that I have created for them. And if I have a glass of wine with me in the evening, even better. I can’t wait to expand the garden next year honestly. We start small with our projects, and add on every year, and the garden is no different, a work in progress.

But I guess I am not all nature all the time. And especially this week, when our house has been so hot and humid. Our air conditioner is being fixed tomorrow thank goodness, but we have been either huddled in our bedroom with the portable unit, or sweating in the rest of the house. I needed an escape this week, and for me that is either the library (more on the library Wednesday..) or… Target.

I needed to be away. Out. Alone. Anonymous even. Not mom, not Erin. Just some lady walking around Target throwing various items into her cart, wandering the aisles looking at stuff. Plus, it is air conditioned. I also needed to be not hot.

Later this morning, we are visiting another of my happy places, one we haven’t been to for over a year. In fact, it was the last place we had been before lockdown March 2020. The nature center at our favorite metropark. We had celebrated Wyatt’s birthday, then boom, lockdown. During that time they were closed, they did a whole renovation to the interior, so today when we go, it is going to different looking, but still the same place. With the same people who work there who have become friends over the last twenty years, which is how long we have been going there. I am excited to visit and see the changes, and catch up with our friends, to watch the birds out the big windows, to explore the new displays. We are heading there soon, as soon as I finish up this coffee and we all get dressed. I can’t wait!

How about you? Where do you escape to? What are your happy places?