Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Homeschooling :: WWII

We are digging deeper into the rabbit hole with WWII this year.

So far, we've read about Rosie the Riveter and made 1940's style slacks from a homemade pattern for Cookie's Halloween costume.

We had our first Yule School, where Cookie selected certain Allied and Axis countries to read about their Christmas celebrations.  We read about Norwegian, English, and German traditions from a really cool Rick Steves book about Christmas in Europe, and she gathered how some of the American traditions started.  We also played Dreidel with chocolate chips.

We read a biography written by a British historian about Anne Frank.  I am finding the European books and docs on the subject less harsh, yet respectful.  Not as violent as Americans like their WWII lesson, i guess. :)  After reading about Anne, Cookie decided she wanted to wait to read Anne's diary when she was older.

We've watched Sound of Music and a little bit of Life is Beautiful.  I wish i had been clever enough to write down all the older movies we've watched related to WWII.  Christmas in Connecticut, White Christmas, etc...lots of interesting stories that have fed Cookie's passion for all things 1940.

We also read a bio on Adolf Hitler.  Cookie wrote a quick book report on it.

And we've been looking through old family photos with my folks, which Cookie has really liked. Seeing the photos of people in the 1940's has been a blessing.  It helped us come up with the idea to finally get that timeline going.  On a regular sheet of school paper, we labelled a decade (1940 - 1949, say), and in those years, we've noted who in our family was born or passed, married or.....whatever.  Then the dates we read about invasions or battles or wars ending are mapped in the same pages, making history seem a little more real.

We found a really cool British t.v. show called A People's History Turn Back Time.  That was a neat peek into what the average life was like for families in England.  There is also a show i'd like to find in its entirety called The 1940's House, produced by a museum in Britain.  Link to the Kitchen episode is here.   There is another show called The 1940's House that is a DVD as well that we can find at our library.

We're about to start incorporating geography into our learning.  I thought we would take a little longer break from our World War Two History for Kids book to cover some important geographical features in countries, so there would be some familiarity was we read through more of the progression of WWII.  We are using maps from Home School in the Woods as our guides.

  1. 4/7 - England by books on the country and Stonehenge, major cities and rivers will be covered, and we will read Charlie and the Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl (Norwegian born in England, and considered a British authour...we will learn a little about him too.)  I think we'll also use a little Google Earth to wander around London and historical sites, or watch a Rick Steves episode on England. I've also pinned a wonderful website on "How to speak British", that will give Cookie some fodder for her stories.  

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Been a While...

Life is completely upside down from our old life...but in a decidedly good way.

See for yourself.

From this

driving down the highway in our 'hood

to this

driving down the country road.

View from the old kitchen,
Hi neighbour.

 view from the new kitchen
Moo, neighbours!

All this, and we now have a dining room with a built-in live action theatre of the chicken pastures.

Life is good!  Hope you have been well too!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Grand Finale

Wow, February is over, eh?  Where did it go, i wonder?  Thankfully, with it's end means we are that much closer to being done with our house in the suburbs.  Closing date is drawing near!

In honour of that, i have one last project to share.  This one was the coup de grase to our "to do" list for 3817.  It was a project i always wanted to do that involved a rather unfortunate fireplace in a wonderfully spacious daylight basement.  At the time of it's design,  basements in houses weren't all tricked out like they are nowadays.

The room was effectively a second living room.  It was also the first thing you see when you walked up to our front door, making relaxing in the space with your pjs on quite hard. :)  It had no finished look about it, especially because of the cinder block fireplace facade running up the focal wall. 

When we first moved in, the fireplace was a hazard and unusable.  Smoke billowed into the room anytime we tried to light something in it.  After a huge ice storm and consequential 4 day power outage, we installed a fireplace insert to make the fireplace functional.  As you can imagine, putting one of those beautiful black metal stove inserts in a cinder block wall kinda looks like putting newly refurbished red leather and chrome seats in an old rusted out Mustang '66 1/2.  :) 

Once we decided to move, i pleaded with Moose to finish that wall.  It would be such a shame to leave something so ugly unfinished, when it didn't take too much money to complete it too. 

We visited a couple of stores, and finally found a tile that worked with the brown tile that was already in place.  I was a huge fan of the accent tiles, and we found a way to incorporate them.  Moose and i designed the accent to work as a sort of mantle...breaking up the wall and providing more weight to the area to counteract the low ceilings.  I hope that it keeps the craftsman feel we tried to intro to the house.

What do you think?

IMG_0782 IMG_0379 IMG_0376 IMG_0371 IMG_0380

I hope the new owners will enjoy it very much, and i hope we use this lesson as a reminder to do home improvement before you leave, so you can reap the rewards of your labour and enjoy your creativity. :) 

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Things I'll Miss

Before we put our house on the market, i wanted to document the things i will miss about it.  I went through it to take pictures of things i always liked about it.  I think it's helped me's not so much the house i'll miss as much as the stories that are housed within it. 

The Nursery:

Seaside Seaside 2

This room has the distinction of being the first room Moose and i designed together. We were eager to carve out a space for a baby after we were married, and decided we wanted to inspire our child with the gifts of the sea: lighthouses, sand dunes, waves, sea critters. We found the border at a local paint store and chose colours from it, painting the walls a sand colour and the ceiling the colour of the sky. We decorated with sea shells and sand dollars from trips to Oregon and lots of sea themed gifts were received when Cookie was born. Grandma made curtains and bedspreads.  We collected lighthouses and driftwood to add to the space. And books. Lots of books. Eventually, this was Cookie's big kid room, complete with big girl twin bed and a little kitchen so she had a little studio apartment for her and her stuffies. :)

Our room

Bedroom 2 Bedroom

This room was my favourite because it was our bedroom under the trees.  Some nights you could lay in bed and moon gaze.  On 4th of July it was great to watch the firework shows linger perched up in bed.  The thing i'll miss the most is the paint.  After my miscarriage, i choose this project as a distraction.  I spent hours and hours focusing on rolling paint on the walls, helping my heart to heal rather than spiraling into the desperate "whys" of it all.  It was my therapy.  Once we were all finished with the house, i couldn't help but take Moose in there for one last kiss goodnight in our first bedroom. :)

Wooden Stairs

Wooden Stairs

I've always been partial to wooden stairs. There's something old fashioned about them.

The Intercom
Nutone intercom

This is something i wished we would have gotten around to.  When we first moved in you could catch AM radio on it, but soon after it gave up the ghost.  It needed new tubes, or just to be rebuilt with a wireless hub on it would have been great.  I would have loved to have it to talk to each other in such a big house.  And as a way to answer the front door. :) 

The Craft Room

Craft Room

The best thing about this room is the colours...Belgium Chocolate and Lotus Flower.  It's the room design where i learned that for me, ceilings look so much better in a creamy, off-white colour in an area where grey skies rule 9 months out of the year. :)

The Bathroom

beautiful sink Tiled Shower

This is a heavenly little bathroom full of vintage goodness.  I love, love, love the tile walls and the original cast tub.  I documented the sink's design very well, because i would like to replicate it here in our new space.  The sink is undermounted, and water was retained in the sink space, rather than left pooling around the entire counter.  :)

Period Light Fixtures

Hall Light

Some of these glass light fixtures in the house were great.  I could have brought them all with me, but in the end, i could only bring my favourite.  It's really sad when houses get their originality gutted out of them.  Maybe the buyers will do that, but i hope people are waking up to the history and cultural assets in these old homes.  They are like the wrinkles and freckles and crooked toes that makes us people all different from one another.  This light fixture i will miss the most...with the copper coloured base and neat design in the glass.  Copper always reminds me of my dad...

In the end, all these things are just that...things.  They pale in comparison with the people that i love, the happiness we've found in our new community, the opportunities we have laying ahead of us.  They will only play a small part in my life's part of the place where my new little family began when i became a grown-up.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Living Room Project

The living room fireplace is a gem of a's huge and double sided, ajoining with the room we had our dining room in.  It's about as big as a ski lodge fire place...but the outside didn't really do anything to emphasize it. 

The worst thing about it was the fact the mantle was made out of concrete slabs that were just affixed to the wall with metal brackets.  One of the panels had been lean ever since i moved in, and i was always afraid of what was going to happen to it or the floor when it eventually broke away.

Now, i would have loved to taken out all the concrete, and remodelled the whole thing.  I had a few ideas while we lived there--like may cut out the walls around it, open up both spaces to each other, and finish the walls in the beautiful peach coloured brick like what was in the dining room.  I also thought maybe it would be best to leave the walls intact and just focus on a very dramatic facade for this side in the living room--something reminiscent of the wooden mantlepieces of the late 1800s/early 1900's with the columns mirrors above a thick mantle, fireplace opening with a tricked out tile surround and a tiled hearth underneath.  There are so many things you could do with this. 

And while i would have loved to finish this project, there was no way we could budget it, especially with our intent to sell. 

So we asked for a rebuilt mantle to at least make the area safe.  Unfortunately, it's not as big as it needs to be to keep the design's scale looking right, but at least it is safe.  But these days, it's all time is money with contractors...and you really have to put your foot down with them.  Which we did...but for a project that was much more important that i will show you later. :)


I can't get over how much it looks like a dance hall in there now. :)  The house really did have a ton of space that i wish i had a fraction of now.  But truly, i couldn't see it for all the stuff that was "in" the house, because of lack of good functional storage.  That wall around the fireplace should be flanked with bookcases and cabinets.  It should hold things like magazines, books, toys, phone books, a craft basket or two.  All the things that just laid on the beautiful wood floors before.  There is a lesson to be learned here.  And it can be implimented at my new little house. :)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Almost Ready for Market

Kent Home

We've been spending our free time up at the old house again--for the final push before market.  I am excited to show you some of the projects we have been working on.  This house is almost unrecognizible to the one we moved into as newlyweds.   Over the 12 years Moose and i lived there, the carpet was replaced, and removed again to reveal hardwoods, the aluminum windows were replaced with wood, all the beige kitchen appliances were eventually replaced with black and stainless steel models when they kicked the bucket, dated and unfunctional 1960's light fixtures were replaced.  Tons of experiments in paint color and decorating were conducted and much was learned here.  The exterior was repainted when we did the windows.  The yard was a blank slate of grass when we moved in, and we enjoyed shopping for trees and plants we added for interest and food.
Lots more things to memorialize, the contractor is done with his sprucing up projects, and now grime detail is in full swing, but i'll start with this first project.

She just got her exterior all spit-shined this past week.

Kent Home

The front garden has been completely detailed.  Wishing we had done this when we lived there. So much more room to plant now for the new owner's to be--the grass was hand dug out by a yard crew of men in one afternoon.  If it was mine, i would got through and plant the entire thing with herbs, more berry bushes, and lots of perennials flowers.

Kent Home

They tore through the sod in the rockeries.  I did this once the first summer i lived at the place.  What a job!  Most likely it will grow back in a couple months, with the warm weather and sunshine, but it looks nicer now than ever.

Kent Home

With housing inventories plummeting in the Seattle region, we are hoping these projects we've spent the last year tackling make for a quick sale, at full price. We shall see.....

more on new projects tomorrow

A Wicked Oz-some Birthday

Last weekend was Cookie Monster's Wizard of Oz Spa Birthday Tea Party.
(whew! that's a mouthful!)
Thankfully, the group of girls we had over are totally Oz-some and sweet
and had a super time together.

Always looking for ways to cut the waste of these parties, a few ideas came to mind.
We decorated our dining room with these classic and reusable decorations:
a golden garland for the Yellow Brick Road and

and these little spiral doo-hickies that resembled tornadoes.

We also pulled out a few Thanksgiving decorations like a scarecrow and a pumpkin for a little flare.

The tea was the best part of the party.  Listening to the girls sitting and chatting, while taking turns serving each other melted my heart and brought a big goofy smile to my face.

Around here, we enjoy our teas.  Each year, when we celebrate our family's special events at a locally owned tea house, we pick up an item or two to add to our tea service at home.  So our small stirring spoons, serving ware, and tiered stand came in handy for our party. 

Since we keep our gatherings intimate, we only needed four place settings at our table.  I decided to gather dinnerware from the thrift stores, not only because it was more economical when i caught a 50% of dishes at Goodwill, but also it would cut down on waste (we're just donating the items back to the thrift now that we're done with them.)  More importantly, it made the party a bit more special--it's always exciting to use grown up plates and glasses when you're a kid, eh?

The mismatched plates and fancy pants glasses i found for 50 cents a piece.  I found adorable floral cloth napkins that we will be saving for everyday.  Who can't use more cloth napkins, eh?  We used was Cookie's Great Grandmother's silverware.

I found a milk glass vase for $4 that served a tropical fruit salad with style.  They also dined on scones with homemade jam and homemade lemon curd, grapes, and devilled eggs that we served on the 3 tier serving rack lined with thrift plates from my china collection.

A sweet little etched glass dish ($1 at the thrift)  was filled with marshmellows, resembling lumps of sugar for they girls' hot chockie "tea" that we served in this green drangonfly teapot that we already had. 

We had these cute little espresso cups in our china cabinet that we used as "tea" cups.  Thankfully, one of Cookie's friends has family from England, so she showed the everyone how to pour tea properly.

They played some Twister

The main event at our party was making personal care items which doubled as party favours.  We made bath salts and sugar scrub with household items.  Our tricky project was making lip balm.  We sourced the materials from a company online called The Sage.  They had a vegan lip balm base and we ordered a couple different flavourings for the lip balm, which we also used in the salts.  The girls made a lip balm for their moms and themselves, which left half of a jar for us to use in our Christmas gifts this year.

Mixing up some sugar scrub

We made these funky labels for our spa goodies which we packaged in recycled jars.
"Dorothy's Bath Salts...guaranteed to melt your troubles away."
"Toto's Sugar Scrub...makes you wag your tail."
and "Frankly, It's Lip 'Baum'".

Yeah, i know that last one was a stretch, but we just couldn't help ourselves. :)

I also knitted face clothes for the girls from some cotton yarn i had in my stash.
Cookie made labels for the bags from large gift tags stamped with characters from Oz...she decided that if her friends were clever enough, they could reuse them as bookmarks. :)

And just like that, we had a fancy little tea party, building great memories with friends, and without a lot of fuss or items filling up our trash bin!