Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Happy Birthday to ME... Styled.

OK, It really has nothing at all to do with me (except that it is my birthday,) but I am actually really excited to take a look... and you can look before me, because I scheduled this post to run this morning, but I am at a play rehearsal with my boy and probably won't be able to gaze lovingly at the yummy pages till after dinner. Jealous. 

To be a part of the online launch of Styled magazine just click on the cover image!

Got Some Free Time On Your Hands?

There are no words for how insanely cool this is...

The project is called Salon at Sundown

Created by Brian Kaspr and Payton Turner

...and probably only one for the fact that the entire space of gorgeous wallpaper, is, in fact, many many many tiny stickers...


Much coffee my friends, much coffee.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Oh, Have I Already Mentioned Chairs Today?

Yup, I think so... but these just had to be put here so that I don't loose them. I love the idea, but even more, I LOVE the chairs! I think though, that I would have to travel overseas to get some as cool as this, I haven't seen these before. I get the feeling that over there they are like the oldschool bent ply chairs we had in elementary school and are probably everywhere in Holland just waiting to be cut up. I may have to get Kelly to smuggle some back with her when she comes home. Think they would fit in her suitcase?

Found on Craftzine, where you can find a link to the tutorial... thanks Tisha :)

Industrial Resoloution

I like old stuff. I mean I really like old stuff. It's kinda ridiculous really. I finally had to stop dragging home junk from junk shops because I don't have space for things I don't even understand, let alone use. There is a junk shop in town that is owned by this family who are old time Nelsonites. They are probably part of a lineage from the days when there was silver here, and most of the stuff in their shop is probably left overs from that rush. They also own half of Nelson's real estate and every time somebody moves out of one of their rentals whatever is left behind gets stored in the basement of the house, so there is literally a ton of houses in this town with a ton of junk that gets eventually put in this store to be sifted through. An ongoing garage sale. Ten per cent of it is really worth something, but the  part I like is the ninety per cent  that is dusty and missing a few pieces and it is questionable as to what it actually for. I know, ridiculous.

 Part of my brain, the smart part, understands that it is much MUCH easier to simply find the right thing for the job online. For those of you who live in a city, any city really, I am sure you have access to places where it is simple enough to find old industrial things, or at least knock off industrial pieces these days since the look of the last few years has had a definite industrial edge. I find something infinitely funny about companies knocking off old stuff. That is one of those things that the aliens are going to label us with when they find us: "Manufactures new items that resemble to a great degree, artifacts from many earth years previous for the collections of other humans to place randomly throughout their living areas for no apparent reason". Yup, that's us. If I could get there though, these beauties from Urban Outfitters would be coming home with me. You know, so I could "organize" my office and living room areas.

Also, that chair that was meant to be reupholstered not so long ago... yeah, turns out that wasn't as easy a fix as they make it look on TV. Granted, it was a few years ago that I watched those shows now... like, ten. But if I can sew something somebody wants to get married in, why shouldn't I be able to sew a fairly straightforward slipcover? Even if it IS out of ten smallish and odd shaped pieces of fabric that were unearthed in a FREE bin. I want my chair to look like THIS:

...and the gorgeous setee and pouf can come along for the ride. If I could have a house chock full of vintage chairs and sofas, I would be a happy camper. Why it is that my family doesn't see the gloriousness in every single chair with good lines in the thrift store is beyond me. Sigh.

Oh well, I am still on the hunt for some amazing industrial type pieces for my place, but I prefer the real stuff. I guess it's a good thing I can't just run to Urban Outfitters and pick up a piece on a whim. (Their prices are ridiculously low and they actually do ship some stuff to Canada.) If there was anything in my bank account and I could visualize not having a coronary over the shipping, I would be all over anything from the Justin Real shop on Etsy.

Some of these pieces found by my friend Jenn over at The Chicks blog would be very happy in my space. Anything with metal wheels is my friend. She has such an amazing eye and talent for thrifting, but also knows so many fabulous places to score a unique find in and around Vancouver. I think I may just have to get her to bring me a funky wheelie thing or two when she comes to visit me.

Of course, when I moseyed over there to grab the photo and URL I found so many more things to gawk at, so you may want to head over for a gander. I love their style :)

So basically I am spending this time procrastinating and mentally redecorating instead of figuring out my tax stuff, the hydro bill, Liam's medical card scenario... all the stuff I should be doing right now. Back at it I guess... or maybe to the thrift store to see if there are any chairs that need a new home! Hmmm...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday Thoughts: Why I Homeschool My Kid

Initially I started homeschooling my eldest because I spent a year of watching a ridiculously social and extroverted child come home every day looking defeated and after asking the ubiquitous question "what did you do today?" his answer would be, "nothing". Really? That is the answer you get from a sixteen year old who is more interested in picking non-existent dirt out of his fingernails than having a "chat" with his mum. Not the answer you expect (or want) from a five year old who will happily go into minute detail on what happened to him on the way from his bedroom to the breakfast table. But that was the answer I was getting. Every. Day.

I have my own issues with the school system, and I would happily go on about them here, except that I find that most parents have the same issues. Kicking a dead horse really, no? A little while ago though, I found a blog written by a very nifty sounding gal who homeschools her daughter in NYC and what really made me keep reading her stuff was that she doesn't go on about what is wrong with the system she doesn't have her child enrolled in, but rather she talks about the positive reasons behind her decision to homeschool. I liked that her commitment is coming from a positive place and not a negative one because, while I started keeping Rowan at home so that he didn't have to endure what I saw as a pretty torturous existence at a daily ritual that nobody could justify, let alone his mom, my reasoning quickly turned into an extremely positive feeling about what we are doing. The ONLY difficulty we have with this way of doing things is that 50% of the people in our daily life can't for the bejeezus of themselves figure out WHY we are still doing it! And the fifty per cent who do understand are the other homeschooling families that we now hang out with.

One of the things that I read on Gazellig-girl was a list of reasons why she homeschools, and my list reads very similarly. So I decided to put mine here. Now when people ask me why, or when I will put him in school, or what am I going to do when my kid is the weird kid... I will send them to my blog.

Why *I* Homeschool My Kid:

So that he can decide for himself what it is he finds interesting or worth learning without being told that it is age/gender/species inapropriate from teachers or students.
So he can actively socialize with people of all ages, genders, styles and ways of being — kids, adults, toddlers, elderly people — not just a small group of kids almost exactly the same age and in ways deemed "appropriate" by a system that has made blanket policies to save themselves the hassle and judgment of a few people who think kids should behave like adults and not communicate naturally. 
So he can discover things he really likes and is genuinely interested in, without any obligation to like the things his classmates like (or run the risk of being excluded for liking something different).
So he can learn how to solve problems on his own — interpersonal or academic — without an adult constantly stepping in to tell him that he is doing it the "wrong" way or "too quickly" or "too slowly" etc... 
So he never loses a love of learning and understands that you never stop learning. Just because you finally earned an A on a subject, the subject does not become closed, learning is not finite. It is not about getting a better grade than the others, it is about the process of learning and the love of knowledge.
So he’ll never equate good grades = good/smart person; bad grades = bad/stupid person
So he will never think he is less of a person or not intelligent enough because he has inadvertently  been a victim of circumstance when somebody is given near-God status who is paid too little and fighting with their spouse or just plain has a personality conflict with him. 
So he can learn at his own pace, without waiting for kids to catch up to him or not grasping a concept because the time for that subject is over for the day.
So he is able to eat when he’s hungry and not when someone tells him to, and without racing to get through the lunch and eat as fast as possible before being herded up to get back to class again.
So he has the opportunity to see in real time that there are so many options in the world for what he wants to be at ten, at seventeen, at twenty-four, at thirty-seven... so he can see other families interact and decide for himself what works for him and what he aspires to. He doesn't have to use just our family as role models.
So he can ask as many questions as he wants without ever getting told to stop.
So he can learn more of the things he should know as an adult (how to shop and cook, how to write someone a letter, how to get help from someone who knows more than you) without having to spend time learning things he probably will never use (how to solve quadratic equations).
So he can see firsthand that "life" happens to adults the same way it happens to children. Your best friends move away or they decide they don't want to be your friend anymore; you have crappy days where the harder you try the worse things seem to get... and that it always does get better; sometimes the stranger on the bus is the coolest person you never knew was there... and that you deal with life and move on.
So his rights as a citizen don’t get trampled on just because he’s at school.
So he doesn't hear one thing at home and another at school when it comes to racism, bigotry, or general respect for other people... calling people down will not become a process of elimination to become the cool kid.
So we all have more time to spend with each other without any need to hurry to eat dinner and get him into bed ten minutes after we eat because he needs to get up early to get to school on time.
So our entire family is free from the time to get up, get ready to go, don’t forget your bag, did you remember your homework, did you study for that test, what permission slip? Hurry up walk faster, slow down your brother can't walk that fast.” stress that seems to encompass so much of school life.

But the most important reason by far is we homeschool because it works for us. It suits our lives and our personalities and the kind of life we want for ourselves.

Play rehearsal is at the local church, but I should mention maybe that we are not religious, in case it matters. Which it shouldn't :)

As far as socializing, whenever that question comes up, as it often does, I ask the person what it is that is offered in the schoolyard that he is not getting out of extracurricular activities provided by the play rehearsals, book club, art classes, swimming lessons, martial arts and play dates that he is a part of. He is still friends with many of the kids he went to daycare and kindergarten with and some others who are in school. So far, almost every single parent that we know who's kids are in school have had to deal with the school over some or many incidents with bullying, racism, exclusion (by both teachers and students) or stereotyping to the degree where it is breeding issues and/or undermining confidence in children who are younger than seven years old. The disturbing part is the reaction (or lack thereof) of the principals and teachers.

I am not saying that there are not days where Rowan has had to deal with some letdowns and hard knocks socially with the homeschooling group, but it is a part of growing up and learning social behaviors, and the general social graces of a group where there are many ages and backgrounds creating something together is a different and healthier dynamic in my opinion. It never reaches a point where there is no bouncing back. I watch the older kids in the group and I have full confidence that we are on the right path.

More than anything, I know my kids, and I know that homeschooling may not be right for the next in line, but I feel it is what is right for Rowan right now. I see a much happier and "in his own person" child who has gone back to telling me every detail of the dream he had the night before. Every. Single. Detail. :)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Last Great Glamour Icon Says Farewell

Larry King: "Elizabeth Taylor was a great friend, a great star and one gutsy woman. She was so special. You won't see the likes of her again…"

She of the violet eyes.
It goes without saying that Liz Taylor (or Dame Elizabeth Taylor to the little people) was one of, if not THE biggest name in Hollywood. She was known not only for her multiple Oscars in a plethora of movies that were destined to be classics, but also for the drama she brought off-screen to the media surrounding Hollywood. She was not only one of the major catalysts of Superstardom and Celebrity, but also of the idea that we as a society should be interested in the private lives of the rich and famous, because... well, she made it interesting.
“I’ve always admitted that I’m ruled by my passions.”
Stephen Fry: RIP Dame Elizabeth Taylor, surely the last of a breed…

Nobody can say that Taylor was not an intelligent and extroverted woman, especially the way she lived life as she pleased before the time that women in North America were allowed to do so. She always walked a fine line between putting on a grand show for the cameras and being labeled "too riske" for the common good. In the end, her tumultuous and drama-laden life and career earned her a cemented place in top ranks of Hollywood Icons, but in every sense, she also left that status far behind when she showed the world that she was also a giving and charitable lady of grace as she took on work benefitting AIDs research before it was a popular issue.

With co-star Montgomery Clift whose life she saved.

She has always been noted by her peers as being  a good and kind person. Her life on camera started with her early years and the choice of her relationships followed alongside.

On the set of Lassie Come Home
Wearing the Golden Football of one of her first notable bfs.

Nothing captured the media's attention more though, than the extravagance that Liz embodied. And nothing displayed that more, than her multiple weddings, their subsequent drama, and her choice of grooms.

Wed Conrad Hilton in 1950 at age 17.
Attendees in yellow organdy...

The hotel heir accepts a sweet token...

Liz married the first "Nicky" Hilton at her most extravagant wedding in 1950. Much of the wedding was promoted and paid for by MGM as her movie "Father of the Bride" opened one month later. Her $1500 dress was a gift from the studio, a creation by MGM studio designer Helen Rose (who also created Grace Kelly's wedding gown). The white satin dress, accented with seed pearls and beading, featured a sweetheart neckline that was covered with a chiffon overlay. She also wore a veil attached to a cap combined with a pearl tiara. The dress was very similar to the one she wore in Father of the Bride.

The marriage lasted eight months. To be fair, she was only seventeen at the time and although he had been sober for his courtship with her, he reportedly fell off the wagon during their wedding reception and was a less than stellar groom, flirting with other passengers on their honeymoon voyage and gambling. He was also, she would reveal later in life, abusive, although she would not recognize this trait until she felt less jaded with subsequent marriages.

If you ask me, in this photo taken while they settle a property dispute, he still looks pretty enamored. She looks much wiser. He went on to date Natalie Wood and Joan Collins, then wed and divorced an oil baroness before his early death in 1969.

wearing a fairly modest suit and pearls
One year later, Liz was married to British actor Michael Wilding in London. Michael was twenty years her senior and she was his second wife. He provided for Liz the stability she needed after her dramatic, albeit short, first marriage and she fell into the role of wife more easily in this second marriage.

While fairly accomplished in film and on stage overseas, Michael contracted to MGM during his years with Liz and co-starred in mainly dull roles. His most memorable role in the US was the Pharoah in the Egyptian.

This marriage lasted five years and saw Liz birth two sons, Michael Jr. and Christopher. During her final days of being Mrs. Wilding, Liz was swept off her feet by the producer of "Around The World In 80 Days".

Weds Mike Todd in February 1957.
In 1957, only three days after her divorce from Michael Wilding, Liz wed producer Mike Todd. Although 24 years older than she, she has admitted publicly that although not always easy, this was her happiest marriage. "He had a joy, a relish about being alive, a vitality that was so contagious," she wrote. "He was a fabulous con artist, could con the gold out of your teeth, but was terribly, gregariously generous." 

Liz's parents to the far left. Liz wears a hooded silk gown.

It was with Todd that she had baby girl Liza (short, of course for Elizabeth). Tragically, Todd would die when his plane, Lucky Liz, crashed in 1958 in New Mexico. Eddie Fisher, Todd's best friend, stated that no fragments of Todd had been found, and that his coffin contained only his ring. The marriage had lasted 418 days.

Liz and Todd attend Derby Day with Fisher and Reynolds following.
Marries Fisher in a green silk hooded number.

 In the time that followed, Liz would be portrayed in the media for being a home-wrecker as she married Eddie little more than a year later. An extremely popular pop singer, Eddie Fisher left his wife, Debbie Reynolds to marry her. It seems widely assumed that he had designs on her when she was married to Todd.

Liz, Eddy and Debbie.
When interviewed, Reynolds graciously said that she could understand being dumped "for the world's most beautiful woman (Taylor)", previously a close friend. Taylor and Reynolds later resumed their friendship, and mocked Fisher in their TV movie These Old Broads, wherein their characters ridiculed the ex-husband they shared, named "Freddie."

Fisher visits Taylor on the set of Cleopatra
Her next marriage to Richard Burton may have been karma for Fisher. While filming Cleopatra, Liz was to have an affair with her co-star where director Joseph Mankiewicz described their chemistry as "like being locked in a cage with two tigers".

Liz cutting Richard's hair the day her divorce from Fisher finalizes.

Frocked in yellow chiffon.

A few flowers in her hair.
Promptly after the release of the movie left Fisher for the Welsh actor. They wed in Montreal in 1964, nine days after her divorce from Eddie Fisher was finalized. They stared in many movies together, most notably "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" where they seemed to portray their own stormy off-screen relationship.

Some of my favourite photos of Liz were taken during this marriage. I think it was a time where she had come into her own both as an actress and as a person... and probably felt an equal to Burton, which may have contributed to their tumultuous relationship. Regardless of the media feast that they provided for the paparazzi, she seems to be more peaceful and relaxed in many of the photos taken during this time.

Dress no. 2
The two divorced in 1974 and remarried in 1975... and divorced in 1976.

That same year Liz married Senator John Warner. This marriage lasted until 1982. Liz states that when Warner was elected she started to feel redundant and began to eat and drink "with abandon" to try to console herself. She said "I had nothing else to do".

In October 1991, she married for the eighth and final time to Larry Fortensky, a construction worker. She had met Fortensky, 20 years her junior, while in rehab. The opulent ceremony was held at Michael Jackson's 2,700-acre Neverland Ranch. Jackson gave away the bride, who wore a pale yellow gown by Valentino. Fortensky's best man was Liz's hairdresser, Jose Eber. Among the 150 guests were Liza Minnelli, Eddie Murphy and former first lady Nancy Reagan. The marriage ended in 1996.

"I think I ended up being the scarlet woman partly because of my rather puritanical upbringing and beliefs," she once said. "I couldn't just have a romance; it had to be marriage."

Rest in Peace and Love Dame Liz, you will be missed.

* Hotel heir Nicky Hilton (married May 6, 1950-divorced January 29, 1951)
* Actor Michael Wilding (married February 21, 1952-divorced January 26, 1957)
* Producer Mike Todd (married February 2, 1957-his death March 22, 1958)
* Singer Eddie Fisher (married May 12, 1959-divorced March 6, 1964)
* Actor Richard Burton (married March 15, 1964-divorced June 26, 1974)
* Actor Richard Burton (2nd Marriage) (married October 10, 1975-divorced July 29, 1976)
* Senator John Warner (married December 4, 1976-divorced November 7, 1982)
* Teamster construction-equipment operator Larry Fortensky (married October 6, 1991-divorced October 31, 1996)

Photo credits to Time/Life, Splash, About.com