Thursday, February 9, 2017

NYC Gilded Age Book Recommendations

This is perhaps a sort of shameful confession from a mother in her thirties, but I'm quite obsessed right now with Broadway's Newsies.  Last spring, I got to see the musical off-broadway with my siblings.  Ever since, I have been listening to the music.  It always makes me smile to hear the perky beats and defiant lyrics.  I'm very excited this month to see the show in the movie theater, and I'm really hoping that Disney will release it on DVD this summer.

The Newsies have reawakened my interest in the Gilded Age.  The time period is fascinating because of how quickly the world was changing and what those changes meant for the next century.  Horses were being replaced by automobiles, factory workers were demanding their rights, and reformers were working for change.  This is the era of the telephone, the railway, and the lightbulb.  Immigrants were pouring into our country by the thousands, bringing with them urban problems, disease, cheap labor, and innovations.  This was the time of industrial and political giants like Boss Tammany, Thomas Edison, John D. Rockefeller, and Joseph Pulitzer.  And, through all the changes and turmoil, the voices of the Newsies could be heard, peddling the banner.

Most books set in the late 1800's feature either the Wild West or Southern reconstruction.  I've read plenty of books set in those places, but it's harder to find books set in NYC at that time.  If you're slightly interested in the Gilded Age and/or you like to read about history, here's my recommendations of books.  Enjoy!

Read and Recommended

Children of the City: At Work and At Play
This book was written in the 1980's and is now known as the inspiration for the Newsies.  As a fan, it's fun to read the stories and antidotes in the book and then connect them to the script of the musical.  As a historical non-fiction book, it's well written and interesting, covering the span from roughly the 1870's to WWI.

How the Other Half Lives
An actual book about life in the Gilded Age written in the 1890's.  This historical muckraking book has lots of pictures and stories from the era, making it a complete treasure for history buffs.  And you can read it for free off the computer by clicking the title above!

City of Promise
The fourth of four historical fiction books by Beverly Swerling covering NYC history, this novel starts at the grimy end of the Civil War and sweeps into the glamour of the Gilded Age.  I have read three of her four books, and I love that she writes about unusual parts of history, not the ones that everyone else has already covered.  They are medically focused, so don't read them if you have a weak stomach.

Elizabeth Street
Ok, so I'm reading this one now.  I'll update after I read it.

Calling Extra
This fan-fiction novel covers the newsboys strike of 1899.  It's not my favorite book, but if you're specifically looking for a book featuring Newsies then this is a good place to start.

Newsies Fan Fiction
Most of this for-internet-consumption isn't very well written or well researched, but it can still be interesting if you're looking for stories featuring your favorite characters.

Recommended But Not Read

New York
A sweeping (and long) historical fiction novel covering 400 years of NYC history.

Band of Sisters
A mystery novel about immigrants, shop girls (my other interest- thanks to Mr. Selfridge), and women's rights.

Orphan #8
Set in 1919, this one is a bit outside of the Gilded Age.  It's the story of a Jewish orphan who must chose between revenge or mercy toward a doctor who experimented on her.

The Gilded Hour
A novel of two female doctors set in 1883.  Sounds fascinating.

As you can see, I have a big wish list.


City of Orphans
Set in 1883, this is the story of a newsie and his sister, set against the poverty and glamour of the Gilded Age.

The Journal of Finn Reardon
This is a "My Name is America" series book about the Newsboys Strike of 1899.

Kids on Strike
A collection of different child-led strikes from around the 1900's.

Learning Activities Inspired by Newsies
One of my favorite bloggers did a homeschool unit on the Newsies.
Click on the link to see her ideas.

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Thursday, February 2, 2017

Lady and the Tramp Valentine's Day Party

"He's a tramp, but I love him."

Last year, we did the Lady and the Tramp family date night for Valentine's Day, but I lamely didn't have the movie for us to watch.  Yesterday, I ordered the DVD off of Ebay, so we'll be ready for this year.  I am the only one in my family who has seen it, so I'm excited to hear what the rest of the family thinks of it.

There's still lots of time to put together this Italian dog-themed movie night.  It can be as simple or as elaborate as you chose.  And, of course, it doesn't have to be just a "family" date night, the movie and ideas will work for a regular date as well.  So, pick up a box of graham dog bones and settle in for this classic Disney flick.

- Lady and the Tramp (Ebay)
- printable chalkboard signs (In Our Pond)
- red and white checked table cloth (Amazon)
- candles in wine bottles (Pinterest)
- coloring pages (Coloring Book)
- felt dog ears (Project Caitlins Life)
- official Tony's restaurant menu (Dad's Guide to WDW)
- how an accordion is made (Youtube)
- dog bone shaped food (Pinterest)
- printable Disney L&T valentine's cards (Family Disney)

- spaghetti with meatballs
- cracker/breadsticks
- dog bone graham crackers
- grape juice/wine

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Cabled Afghans

This is a the tale of a process knitter and this blog post was written during the process.  Hopefully, it makes a good story of woe:

First Pattern

Original cable pattern (chart) was found on a Russian website.  I translated it into English and wrote the chart out in long form.  The English pattern can be found here.

My afghan was knit with Simple Soft (off white) on size 11 circular needles.  The cable pattern was set on a bed of 25 stitches, and I placed panels of 25 stitch moss stitch between the cabling.  The blanket had 7 stitches of moss stitch for border stitches (14 total) plus five panels of cabling (125 stitches) plus four panels of moss stitch (100 stitches).  There were 239 stitches.  I don't know why I didn't notice there were way too many stitches.

Here's what I've learned-

AKA- why this afghan is priceless

Yarn- 30 oz (6 oz to a skein)
Time Per Row- 25 minutes per row
Number of Rows- (264)
Total Time- 110 hours!

And then I completely abandoned it when I realized that I had accidentally made it 10 feet wide!  If I ever want to make a bedspread, now I know how to do it.

Looking back over the numbers, I should have figured it out from the beginning, but I've been a bit distracted lately.  Oh well, knitting a blanket twice is the best way to stretch your yarn dollars.

Second Pattern

Violet's Cable

This pattern was much simpler to work and very satisfying to finish.  I did nine cabled ropes over six stitches each, with six stitches of reverse stocking stitch in between.  The borders are seven stitches of seed stitch.  I knit the yarn from the failed blanket, unraveling as I worked.  It is the same amount of yarn minus a bit (so about 5 skeins worth).  Very simple, soft and elegant.

Third Pattern

I had a second request for a cabled afghan, so I made another one.  This one has 3 sections with 5-strand braids and a simple rope cable in between.  When I make another afghan (cause I'm sure I will), I'm going to try putting cables on both sides of the blanket.  The 5-strand braid makes a nice ribbed pattern on the reverse side, which I think will work nicely as the divider between cables.  I think the reverse stocking stitch boarders are a tad large and boring on this one.  No more blankets for a while, though.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Frozen Themed Road Trip

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I'm a bit obsessed recently with themed road trips.  Check out the big Pirate themed one we did last summer and the zoo and dinosaur themed ones that I did as examples.

The kids have been asking about another road trip, so we brainstormed some ideas for the new theme.  Dragonfly suggested Frozen, which made the boys happy because they love Olaf.  It also seemed like a good winter-theme.  We don't have any road trips planned for right now, but here's some ideas in case anyone else might want to plan a party on wheels.

Food and Drinks
The spine of every good road trip is the food, actually, of every party as well.  Here are some easy, fun Frozen themed munchies for your party-on-wheels.  Basically, anything blue, white, or snowflake-shaped.

- Olaf cheese sticks
- popcorn flurries
- snowflake cheese and crackers
- white cheddar snowballs
- olaf button olives
- snowflake sandwiches

Games and Activities
It's very important that you keep your "guests" busy during the party.  Here are a few activities for in the car, outside of the car, and in a hotel.

- build a snowman magnetic activity
- Frozen printable activity pack
- coloring pages
- snowstorm sensory bottle
- stickers
- activity tray
- Frozen audiobook
- Frozen soundtrack

                                           {Rest Stops}
                                                        - bubbles
                                                        - soccer ball
                                                        - yard bowling

                                                        - glitter slime
                                                        - snow writing tray
                                                        - sugar cube ice palace

Disguises are a fun way to get everyone in the party mode.  Frozen costumes and clothing are probably the easiest thing to find, but here are some ideas.

- Elsa
- Olaf
- Elsa Wig
- Anna Wig
- Olaf Shirt

Face it, this is Frozen.  There are so many swag options.  Check the Dollar store for random things like ziptop bags with the girls on them or little toys.

- plates
- cups
- Elsa wands
- waterbottles
- blanket
- playset
- suitcase

Winter may be a good time to stay in and snuggle, but if a road trip is on the agenda, then I hope this themed plan is helpful.  And if you do what snowmen do in summer, then maybe this theme will help cool you down.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Joy's Journeys (post 2)

This is part 2 of Joy's adventures at our house.  Part 1 can be found here.

The kids thought it was funny to spin the paper towel roll to make Joy go round and around.

Hanging out on the coat rack by our main door.  The kids are having so much fun finding her every morning.  It's even made the husband laugh a few times.

Joy went Christmas shopping!

Dancing with a stormtrooper.  They both needed a bit of help to be the right height.

If you leave your underwear on the floor, it might be stolen and used to decorate the Christmas tree.  This trick made the kids giggle.

Dragonfly chose Joy's position today.  The kids spent the day snuggling her and giving her lots of love.

All the kisses and hugs from sick kids gave Joy a cold.  She spent the day in bed.  The kids were sad that she wasn't feeling well.

This morning we woke up to Joy working on a felt food project.  We were all very curious to see what she was making.

The next day, she had finished and we could see that she made a felt hamburger.  The kids didn't know why until they went to Grandma and Grandpa's house later that day and saw their homemade play kitchen!

She left us on Christmas morning with a promise that she'll be back again someday.  Dragonfly has been telling everyone that Joy is visiting other children in their homes.  I'm sure we'll be talking about her a lot and awaiting her reappearance.

Joy's Blog Posts
- journeys part 1
- elf house
- elf-sized movies
- introducing Joy

Friday, December 16, 2016

s is for snow (year 3, week 13)

We got snow over the weekend, which was perfect for this week's homeschool unit about snow/snowmen/snowflakes/snowangels.

This is our last unit until the New Year!

We stayed home and played in the snow!

My sister came to spend time with us before she goes back to college in the new year.  She taught the kids the water cycle and explained how snow is formed.

Auntie was still at our house.  She made them pancakes for breakfast and watched them so that I could sleep in.  It was amazing!

We looked a micro pictures of snowflakes and talked about their basic designs.

The majority of the family was sick.

Still sick.

Blog Posts About Snow
- w is for winter homeschool unit
marshmallow counting file folder game

snow globe roll and cover
land, sea, and air arctic animal sort
sorting types of extreme weather
winter preschool pack
winter clothes match game
3-part cards for the Safari Arctic toob
snowman pasta snowflake counting
snowman preschool pack
snowman learning packs
snow learning pack
winter wonderland preschool pack
Frozen preschool pack

ice melting experiment
snowflake slime
tonging snow balls
make snowflakes (and experiment)
how much water is in snow experiment
footprints in the play dough snow
frozen salt writing tray
snowman breakfast
snowstorm in a bottle 
frozen bubbles
ice "magic" tricks
expanding (frozen) liquids experiment
sugar cube building
borax snowflakes
sensory snow

Monday, December 12, 2016

Joy's Journeys (part 1)

Just 1 more Monday until Christmas!

We've had a special visitor at our house this month, Joy, our Kindness Elf.  Just looking at her reminds us to be kind to each other.  The kids have loved seeking out all her new positions every day, and even the grown-ups are having fun with her.  Here's the first round of ideas for her.

Joy's first day in our house.  She perched herself on the top of the homeschool cabinet with her travel case and a note for us.  The note read: "Hi Kids, I'm Joy.  I've come to spend Advent with you.  I want to remind you to do kind things.  What kind things could you do today?"  We used Joy's letter to launch a discussion about kindness and true joy.  We did tell the kids that she isn't real and that she's just a Christmas game.  But, all day, they were asking, "Do you think Joy thought that was kind?"  Joy doesn't do any spying or reporting, but she does serve as a visual reminder to speak and act with kindness.

Dragonfly bought presents for her brothers today.  There was a lot more hugging and kissing, too.

I guess Joy was feeling settled in at our house because she decided to make her bed and sleep through the day.  She moved from the cabinet to the counter.

Joy had some hot cocoa today in a doll-sized china tea cup.

Hanging out on the top of the Christmas tree.  She's giving 2 thumbs up to her fun position today.

Dragonfly was getting concerned the Joy hadn't slept in a few days, so I thought she needed a big cup of coffee.  This is our coffee/cocoa corner.  The kids were jealous of all the marshmallows Joy got so they had to have some as well.

Sort of boring today, but the kids thought it was very funny that she was so high up.  They wanted to know how she got up there.

This bunting hangs above our kitchen table.  The kids thought it was pretty fun to see her climbing.

Joy put up her Christmas Tree!  All day long, Dragonfly kept looking at it and saying how much she liked it.  I think she was trying to puzzle out how it was made, but I wouldn't let her touch it.

Dragonfly asked me for several days to put Joy on the rope that's hanging off of our kitchen cupboards.  She thought it would look like Joy was swinging.

Elf's like cold weather, so I put her in the fridge.  I wonder how long it will take the kids to find her?

So, there's the first 10 of Joy's adventures.  The kids are really loving the game so far.  They have just learned how to play hide and seek and they enjoy looking for her every day.  One of my biggest concerns was that I would need to be untruthful with the kids in order to make the game work.  That hasn't been a problem at all.  I have told the kids that I move the doll around, and they still want to play the game.  I was also worried that the kids would be afraid of her, but they think she looks sweet.