Lego Corner Garage–The Second Half

Time to take a look at the second half of the build for the Lego Corner Garage!

The second floor contains a vet’s office, which includes both the waiting and examination rooms. There were a lot of cool little builds in this section, including a neat desk lamp and a heat lamp for a frog. Two minifigs were included this time…the vet himself, and a child, who I assume is taking her pet (possibly the rabbit) for a check-up.

As always, the amazing sense of humor the Lego Group has is obvious…Dr. Jones Animal Care…No snakes!

The windows on the second floor were fun to build, too!

The third floor is home to the minifig that came in the fifth set of bags. It’s a nice little studio apartment, and it contains something hard to find on our Main Street…a BATHROOM! I especially loved building the little TV.

Even without the roof, it’s an impressive building!

The sixth set of bags was a quick an easy build…just the roof, with a nice little garden, and a place to lay out and catch some rays:

Even though I wasn’t necessarily thrilled with adding a garage of all things to my Main Street, I have to admit, it’s a nice-looking building, and I love having another corner to add to my modular grouping!

As soon as I’m certain I’m happy with the layout, I’ll shared a picture of my updated modular Main Street!

Lego Corner Garage–The First Half

Now that I’ve finished the Lego modular Bookshop, I figured I should get to work on the Corner Garage, a set I’ve had for almost a year, but hadn’t found the time to build yet. I decided that even though this building doesn’t split nicely down the middle, I’d stick with building it in two sections. Here’s a look a the first half, which included the bags numbered one through three.

As always, the bags for part one built the foundation for the set, which isn’t always too exciting. This set, however, had a very interesting feature right off the bat…a moving rack for cars to be lifted on! Also included were a mechanic and a very good boy.

The rest of the garage (and the downstairs entrance to the vet’s office located on the second floor) was built in the second set of bags. I love the moving garage door, and all of the little details in this part of the build.

The third set of bags contained the pieces to build the gas pump (and its overhang) plus the tow truck.

The tow truck gave me some fits. Because it has more moving parts than a regular Lego vehicle, it was a more complicated build, and I had to bring Turkey in to help me complete it!

Possibly my favorite part of the whole set is this sign…that is some excellent humor!

Here’s a look at the set, about half-done:

Up next…the second half of the build, including the vet’s office and an upstairs apartment, which actually contains an elusive Lego bathroom!

Lego Bookshop–The Second Half

Time for the second half of the newest Lego modular building! After building the side for which the set gets its name (the bookshop), I turned my attention to the attached apartment building. The fifth set of bags contained a minifig and the foundation for the home, which included an awesome staircase!

A second minifig was included in the sixth set of bags, and the main living space for the home, including a lovely cabinet and charming tea set, plus a really cool window, were added:

Structurally, the seventh set of bags didn’t add a lot…mostly it was just a framework, with some pretty big gaps. But it did include the bedroom, with a fun build of a bed, and a cute little dresser. (It did not include a bathroom, which is troubling to me, because I really don’t feel there are enough bathrooms for all of the minifigs that frequent my modular Main Street!)

The final set of bags finished off the exterior of the bedroom, and included a fun little balcony, plus an amazing way to build some shingles for the front side of the building around the windows:

Probably my favorite part about this set is that the two halves can be separated and displayed however you want. I mixed them up here, just to show how each arrangement looks, but in the end, when I finish my modular Main Street (for this year, anyway), I’ll have them in two completely different locations, and not connected to each other at all!

I still have last year’s modular garage to build…I’ve been holding on to it for almost a year, and I’m hoping to get started on it soon, so I can add it to the Main Street, as well, and share an updated photo of my current design!

Lego Bookshop–The First Half

I’m taking a departure from my usual Lego modular building summaries to try something new. Since the new bookshop splits down the middle into two buildings, I’m going to look at the building process for each half. First up, the eponymous bookshop. The first set of bags (there are four sets for each part), contains one minifig and builds the foundation for both the shop and the birch tree out front:

The second set of bags finishes off the first floor of the building and contains another minifig:

No additional minifigs in the third set of bags, but the second floor does contain the living area of the upstairs apartment, including a really cool grandfather clock build:

The fourth and final set of bags does introduce another minifig (the bookshop owner and resident of the aforementioned upstairs apartment), and my favorite parts of the whole build so far, the bedroom, which includes a really cool chameleon piece with a tank, a lovely autumn birch tree, and an awesome roof!

The other half of the building is residential, which my modular Main Street really needs…I’m looking forward to putting it together!

The Twenty-Fourth Day of Advent

And just like that, Advent 2019 has come to an end!

The Fab Five had only one bag of pieces to add to Lego Hogwarts Castle today…#37:

There really weren’t too many details added since Saturday…mainly some more stained glass, and the roof and tower pieces:

Turkey joined the two parts of the set together, and even though we knew what they looked like separately, I think we were all shocked by how immense (not to mention beautiful!) the entire set is!

It was quite a project, and I think a fun one!

I finished off Advent with a Prosecco from Italy:

And of course I wore my standard Christmas Eve brooch:

Merry Christmas!

Thanksgiving 2019

A ton of hard work went into it, but just like that, our traditional three-day Thanksgiving celebration has already come and gone!

I started baking pies bright and early Wednesday morning, while we watched some of our favorite Thanksgiving shows. As always, everyone chose a pie for our dessert table. Bunny made the caramel apple pie, and I made the other six (with some help from various children). Our lineup this year was fairly standard…pumpkin, caramel apple, cranberry apple, butterscotch, pecan, s’mores, and one new addition, peanut butter brownie, which may be the finest pie I’ve ever made!

Before I closed down the kitchen for the day on Wednesday, I also made the cranberry sauce and the stuffing, plus prepped for the turkey soup we had tonight. I was back to work Thursday morning while we watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the National Dog Show (we were so excited that chonky Thor won!), but I did take a break to enjoy a cranberry beer from a local brewery:

Our dinner was actually ready a little early, which was nice, because everyone was hungry! The menu was fairly standard…turkey and gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans with almonds, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower (a new addition to our Thanksgiving dinner), cranberry sauce, and rolls:

I love making the table look pretty!

It was a delicious dinner!

After cleaning up and watching Holiday Inn, we had pie. Lots and lots of pie:

I always have cranberry apple on Thanksgiving evening:

We always have pie for breakfast the day after Thanksgiving, so I got to try the peanut butter brownie pie this morning:

And we got to see Moose play with his school band in the town Santa Parade:

As always, the Fab Five built a Lego set following our lunch of turkey sandwiches. This year, it was the Winter Village Fire Station, and it’s a really nice set!

I got to build a Lego set, too…a nice free-with-purchase Christmas tree that is the perfect addition to my modular Main Street:

Tonight’s dinner was another Thanksgiving favorite…turkey soup. I really think the day after Thanksgiving has better food than the actual holiday!

And I finally tried the pumpkin pie tonight:

Yes, I did work hard, but I have to admit, after doing Thanksgiving on a broken ankle last year, it seemed a lot easier this time around!

Friends Day

“No one could ever know me
No one could ever see me
Seems you’re the only one who knows what it’s like to be me
Someone to face the day with, make it through all the rest with
Someone I’ll always laugh with
Even at my worst, I’m best with you, yeah!”

Happy Friends Day! Could I be any more excited?!?

It’s hard to believe that one of America’s most-recognized sitcoms (and one of my all-time favorite TV shows) is celebrating its 25th anniversary today…I’d certainly rather not dwell on just how long I’ve been watching! But, as always, I love an excuse for a celebration, and since we finally allowed our children to watch through the entire run of the show starting around Thanksgiving last year, I knew it was a holiday we could all enjoy.

I always try to acknowledge a special occasion with an outfit. While Pinup Girl Clothing did have a lobster-print skirt a while back that would have been absolutely perfect, I never did have the chance to add it to my wardrobe. I did wear a brooch that can kind of pass as Hugsy, Joey’s bedtime penguin pal, though!

The highlight of the day was a Friends marathon. We chose one episode (or a two-parter) from each season:

  • Season One–“The One Where Monica Gets a Roommate”
  • Season Two–“The One with the Prom Video”
  • Season Three–“The One with the Hypnosis Tape”
  • Season Four–“The One with Ross’ Wedding” (parts one and two)
  • Season Five–“The One in Vegas” (parts one and two)
  • Season Six–“The One that Could have Been” (parts one and two)
  • Season Seven–“The One with Monica and Chandler’s Wedding” (parts one and two)
  • Season Eight–“The One Where Chandler Takes a Bath”
  • Season Nine–“The One in Barbados” (parts one and two)
  • Season Ten–“The One with Phoebe’s Wedding”

Food is always an integral part of a Markel Family holiday. Of course we needed salty snacks, so I chose a staple from Chandler’s traditional Thanksgiving feast…a family-size bag of Funyuns. And for a fun beverage, we remembered the time Joey was bursting with Yoo-Hoo:

Dinner was easy…we ordered the Joey special: Two pizzas (from Pizza Hut, because we’re definitely not too good for The Hut)!

And I made Rachel’s Thanksgiving trifle, but hopefully mine didn’t taste like feet (the beef sautéed with peas and onions was actually Oreo crumbs mixed with coconut and green chocolate-coated candies)!

“It’s a trifle. It’s got all of these layers. First there’s a layer of ladyfingers, then a layer of jam, then custard, which I made from scratch, then raspberries, more ladyfingers, then beef sautéed with peas and onions, then a little more custard, and then bananas, and then I just put some whipped cream on top!”

The best special occasions involve Lego building, and Lego did not let us down, because they released a special Central Perk Ideas set earlier this month!

Happy Friends-iversary!

First Day of School 2019

The 2019-20 school year is officially underway!

We had our traditional first day of school, which was more fun than work. The Fab Five opened their schultüte:

And built a new Lego set to display in our schoolroom. This year, I bought the Hogwarts clocktower to go with the Great Hall that they built on the first day of school last year.

Most of the rest of the day was spent getting new books, organizing desks, and prepping for the new year…tomorrow the real work begins! I’ll leave you with our theme verse for the year, which is always appropriate, but even more so in a world that often seems crazy scary:

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:34

Ready for the First Day of School!

The summer went by way too quickly, and it’s already time for the first day of the 2019-2020 school year! Yesterday was spent doing a few last fun things before we get back to work…playing board games, baking cookies, building a Lego set, and having an Iron Man movies marathon:

Today, on the other hand, was “cleaning day.” We got the school ready (more or less) for another year of learning. Surprisingly, not too much has changed in the last year, just some minor rearranging, which is very unusual for us!

We had a “Farewell to Summer” dinner tonight…ribs, corn on the cob, baked beans, watermelon, and root beer floats for dessert. We also watched Detective Pikachu, which was a really cute movie, even for someone like me, who isn’t too familiar with Pokemon.

And the outfits are ready for tomorrow morning!

Everything else that needs to be ready for tomorrow is good to go…I put the schultüte together (but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see their contents), organized the bookshelves, and got all the new workbooks sorted out and put on desks. I’m looking forward to beginning our 12th year of homeschooling!

Summer School 2019

Just like that, another year’s summer school has come to an end. I think our Rick Steves’ Europe themed summer school might be my favorite that we’ve done so far, because even though I didn’t have to do as much work (until it was time to start cooking), and hands-on activities and field trips were a little elusive (although I did make a few things work!), we all learned so much, and had a lot of fun while doing it!

So what did a primarily video-based summer school look like? We watched (if I counted correctly) 72 episodes of Rick Steves’ Europe over the course of two months. While we couldn’t “visit” every place I would have liked, we did get a great overview of Europe with “trips” to Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, The Czech Republic, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia, Slovenia, Greece, Turkey, Israel, and Palestine, plus a few other places. We also watched all three regular travel skills specials and the cruising special. We even found time for all three other specials: Christmas, Easter, and Festivals! (We watched The Story of Fascism in Europe last spring, and since it was kind of intense, we didn’t watch it again this summer.) I bought my oldest students travel journals, and Chickadee a sketchbook, and they wrote and/or drew something for every episode we watched. Places they hope to visit someday, interesting facts, travel tips…anything that jumped out at them. I really hope they’ll keep these journals, so that if they ever do have the opportunity to go to Europe, they can look through them, and see what their younger selves thought would be cool to visit, and maybe add some locations to their itinerary.

I mentioned field trips and hands-on activities. Some of them were a bit of a stretch, but I did my best. For example, we visited Frankenmuth, MI, this summer, which is known as “Michigan’s Little Bavaria.” I figured this was as close we could get to visiting a European town, and it really did look like I imagine some German towns do. We also got to eat a lovely German meal while we were there:

Speaking of food, we also tried a new-to-us cuisine this summer when we went to a local Bosnian restaurant. We were all very impressed, both with the dishes and the “slow-food” way of eating there…I’m sure we’ll be going back!

And how could we make it through the day we learned about traveling in Greece without having gyros?

The St. Louis Art Museum is hosting a special exhibit of work by a European artist, Paul Gauguin, which was a nice way to experience a bit of European culture:

Now, on to “other activities.” We played a lot of games this summer: Ticket to Ride Europe, 10 Days in Europe, and Ticket to Ride: My First Journey (European Map). These all gave us a chance to talk about the various cities/countries on the maps, and recall things we had seen watching Rick Steves’ Europe, and talk about the places we’d like to visit. I also gave my students a few special assignments…Chickadee made a poster about her favorite European city, (Paris), Ladybug wrote a 1,500 word essay about hers, (Rome), and my oldest students read Travel as a Political Act, and I have to say, I think our discussions about that book might have been my favorite part of the whole summer. They certainly learned a lot about life in Europe and the importance of travel, and I think their worldview changed a bit because of it! For one hands-on activity everyone could enjoy, we built the only Lego Architecture European skyline set we didn’t already have: Paris. It was a fun little build, and a nice addition to our collection!

And finally…cooking at home! This is always one of my favorite parts of summer school, but I have to confess, I kind of put this off to the end of the summer, and was rushing to cook all the things I had planned. In the end, we tried French, Swiss, Norwegian, Spanish, Hungarian, British, Italian, German, and Middle Eastern cuisines at home (full details on what we tried next week). I think we all have some new favorites, and I definitely learned a few new cooking techniques along the way!

Obviously, traveling to Europe as a large family isn’t a realistic option, at least not for us. But I did my best to give my children a glimpse into European culture and history, and more than that, I really I hope I inspired in them a desire to travel when they’re older and have the opportunity. There are so many interesting places and great people throughout the world, and I am grateful for any chance to explore them, even if we had to do it vicariously for now!