Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thanks Style at Home

I never thought I would see Sense and Simplicity on the website of one of my favourite design magazines, Style at Home, but that is just what has happened.  You can see why I'm so excited in the screen shot below (which, by the way, involved me downloading and learning how to use Snagit in order to get a screen shot of the whole page so I could show you the awesomeness). 

My appearance on the Style at Home website is thanks to a very sweet (and completely thrilling) invitation from Elaine Song, the web-editor, to join in a round-up of bloggers weighing in on which fall design trend they like the most.  Style at Home identified three fall trends - wood, new neutrals, and modern global - which I used as inspiration to decorate my sideboard and blogged about here.  I then revamped my sideboard using the same fall trends as inspiration and blogged some more about about it here.  By now you are probably tired of seeing my sideboard, but just one more time - okay?

The only other blog I recognized in the list is the lovely Bright, Bold, and Beautiful, which means there are ten new blogs for me to discover.  I'm working my way down the list and finding a whole bunch more must-reads.  Hop on over and have a look at the inspiration.

Thanks Style at Home!

Monday, September 26, 2011

5 Ways to Style Your Sideboard

I recently decorated my sideboard for fall (you can read about what inspired me here), but then I second guessed myself and wondered if I had done it all wrong.  Were things supposed to be piled in the middle like I had done or should they be arranged in groupings at either end. Well given my confusion I'm sure you know what I did next.  Yep, I headed straight for the computer and Googled some images.  Since the main event in dining rooms is the table, it actually wasn't easy to find pictures of sideboards/buffets/console tables/credenzas (it likely doesn't help that there isn't one clear name for them).  I did find some pictures though and I thought I'd share my research findings.  

As it turns out there are a variety of ways that sideboards can be styled.  I've divided the types of arrangements into five main groups.

1) Sideboards with objects placed at both ends - asymmetrical arrangements:
When the arrangements are asymmetric the displays usually seem more modern and less formal than when the arrangement is symmetrical.  In the next four photos you can see examples of this type of arrangement done in an paired-down, simple way using a limited number of larger objects.

Sarah Richardson

Style at Home

Sarah Richardson via Style at Home

Sometimes the arrangements are done in a more-is-better way.  Interest is created by using a large number of objects in a variety of sizes and heights.  You can still see that the highest objects are placed at either end with all the lower objects around them filling in toward the centre of the sideboard.

Martha Stewart

2) Sideboards with objects placed at both ends - symmetrical arrangements:
Symmetrical arrangements are similar to the first type, but here the highest objects anchoring either end are a pair of lamps, jars, candles, or vases of flowers.  Other objects, sometimes matching and sometimes not, fill in the middle.  This usually results in a more traditional formal look.  

Canadian House and Home

Mrs. Howard Personal Shopper
Mrs. Howard Personal Shopper

Canadian House and Home

3)  Sideboards with repetition of a single object:
This type of arrangement involves a single item being repeated across the sideboard.  If the items are small-scale then multiples of the item are usually used across the entire sideboard (like in the first photo below) and if the item is large then only two may be required to stand alone (like in the third photo below).  While I love this style I would find it difficult to be so disciplined.

Sarah Richardson

CB2 via Canadian House and Home
Mrs. Howard Personal Shopper

4)  Sideboards with the highest objects placed toward the centre:
These asymmetric types of arrangements have the highest objects near the centre of the sideboard and then other objects placed around them forming a visual triangle.  The triangle can be taller or flatter depending on the height of the centre objects.  Again a large variety of sizes and heights of objects are used, with items layered in front and behind each other to create interest.

Pottery Barn

Martha Stewart

5)  Sideboards with the highest objects placed toward one end:
In some displays the highest object is placed off-centre at one end making an asymmetric arrangement (interestingly in my examples, the right-hand end seems to be most popular) .  

Pottery Barn
Suzanne Kasler via Home and Interior Design Picture

After considering all the layouts I went back to my sideboard and rejigged things.  I'm still going with all-the-stuff-in-the-middle type arrangement (#4 in my list above), but I've added a few things, spread the items out a bit more, and it is little more balanced.  

Just to refresh your memory - even though I know you never forget anything I have done around the house - here is what it looked like before.

It occurred to me that it would be a good exercise to try out each of the styles I identified.  I think I might just give that a try over the next year.  I love me a decorating challenge - almost as much as a photography challenge.   Anyone want to join me?

Linked to Good Life Wednesday at A Beach Cottage
Wow Us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style

Friday, September 23, 2011

I'm Falling for Fall

It's that time of year again when the lovely warm sunny days of summer start to turn cooler and the days grow shorter.  I can't say that I'm happy about summer being done, because I'm not.   I find the end of summer bittersweet, but I'm putting a brave face on it and welcoming all the good things in fall.  I do love the crisp clear weather, colourful leaves, and gourds and pumpkins.  

I got it into my head that we should go and see the migrating birds down at Long Point on Lake Erie - so off we went on a day trip this past weekend.  Do you see the flocks of migrating birds in the photo below?

Nope - neither did we.  No birds.  Apparently we were too early.  Oh well!  We got to enjoy the fall flowers which were ablaze with colour.  Why are so many fall flowers purple and gold?  One of life's great mysteries.

Long Point was a lovely fusion of summer beach fun and fields of fall flowers - the best of both seasons. 

Do you notice something in the picture above - only one little chicklet left at home. BOO!  Kate is at university hundreds of miles away in Nova Scotia and Malcolm, of course, is not living at home now that he is married.  We have been encouraging William to roar around and make the noise of three kids, but it is still pretty quiet around the house these days (especially when he goes comatose like he did on the beach in the photo below).

I enjoyed taking photos of the lovely rippled sand around the driftwood,

my handsome husband,

and sparkly water.

What do you enjoy about autumn?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Bangladesh CRP Speech Project Details

Before I leave the topic of Bangladesh I thought some of you might be interested to know a bit more about what my friend Kim and I did when we were at the Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed (CRP) in Savar.   We were there for 4 1/2 weeks and in that time we packed in a lot of different projects.  Before we left home we knew what courses we would be teaching, but apart from that we had no idea of how else we could help, so the other projects we undertook were ones we identified after we arrived. 

Kim taught a course in Adult Neurogenics (speech problems resulting from stroke, Parkinson's disease, and the like). I taught a course in Autism and Developmental Delays and half of the Introduction to Speech Therapy course.  While it might appear that I did more work than Kim, her course was 18 lecture hours a week and my courses  totaled 16 lecture hours a week.  We taught in English (obviously, since our Bangla isn't too hot), which did cause some difficulties, but not insurmountable ones.  We had to remember to speak slowly, and often we had to repeat information, and use lots of examples.   

Teaching the Autism and Developmental Delay course to third year students
My first year students outside our classroom

One of the projects I was most excited about was the photo therapy cards I had my first year class make.  When we got to Bangladesh we found that the clinic had very few pictures for use in therapy. Here was an opportunity  to make culturally relevant materials for instructional use. Kim and I had taken two point-and-shoot cameras with us to donate to the department so I had them available for my first year class to use to take photos of each other.  I gave my class a half-hour talk about how to take good photographs and then I divided them into five groups. They took pictures that illustrated common verbs, common prepositions (location words), and common objects.  In order to get all the photos, some groups went out to the shops and around CRP to take pictures.

Taking pictures to make therapy cards. Foreground: taking pictures of "playing".
Background: setting up pictures for "washing"

The first two groups took pictures of twenty common verbs, like "playing", "jumping", "running", and "shopping".  We wanted them to be able to use the cards to make a variety of sentences, so they photographed each verb being done by a male student, a female student, and a group of students.  You can see one of the series in the photos below:

Picture series to show "They are shopping", "She is shopping", and "He is shopping"

Another group took pictures of five common verbs, each with three different objects, so that they could use the photographs to extend sentences; for example: "eating biscuits", "eating rice", and "eating an apple".  When it came to photographing "eating" and "drinking" the students were good sports. As it was Ramadan and the students were fasting they could only  put the food and drink near their mouths. I felt bad to have them so near refreshment when they must have been pining for a bite to eat or to take a sip, but there was no other time we could do this project, so my brave students soldiered on.

Pictures to show "He is washing clothes", "She is washing dishes", and "She is washing her face"

Another group took photos of prepositions.  One of my favourites was this series of photos taken around a rickshaw.  

Photos to show "behind", "in", "in front of", "on", "beside", and "under"

The fifth group took photos of thirty common objects.  These were for use by people who are unable to talk because of a stroke or some other problem and could use the pictures to request things.  Below are a few of the objects that are somewhat unique to Bangladesh.

Left to right:
Lunghi (wrap worn by men); salwar kameez (worn by women); mosquito net; wheelchair (made at CRP)

We had the photos printed in duplicate so that the cards could be used for matching or playing memory games.  We also had the cards laminated so they would last.  Finally, I put the photos on an external hard-drive so that if they get spoiled they can be reprinted. Therapists might also want to make a communication board for a patient from these files, or they might wish to extend the collection.

Therapy photo cards, in duplicate and laminated - ready for use!

I have to tell you about one of the funny moments that occurred while we were working on this project. During the "washing" series, I asked the students where they wash dishes. "In a basin, Ma'am".  So a basin it was.  Then I asked if they also wash clothes in a basin. "No Ma'am". Do you use a sink, I asked. But this was not correct either.  Where do you wash clothes, I asked. "In the "toilet"!  Fortunately one of the students added, "On the floor in the toilet".  So off the group went to find a toilet so they could take pictures of clothes washing.  When they came back and I looked at the photos, I noticed they had washed the blue dish cloth Kim and I used in our kitchen (see the photo above)!  YUCK, YUCK AND TRIPLE YUCK. Dish cloths being in short supply, I boiled it for five minutes before we used it again.

Another project we did at CRP was to develop a stroke patient language-skills screening test, which Kim had her third students produce, in Bangla. Now CRP has a complete aphasia screening test, ready for use by future instructors and students (the white binder in the photo above).

Thanks for your patience in reading about these projects. Just one more! I had my first year students collect magazine pictures - which they did in abundance.  Then Kim organized them into three binders: one for pictures that show emotions; one for pictures that show actions; and one for pictures that tell a story (the blue binders in the photo above).  Not only was this a low-cost way to obtain therapy materials, but the pictures are all culturally-relevant since they show people from Bangladesh.

Kim and I displaying the magazine picture binders to the students

Maybe shopping is more in the category of "fun" than "project", but in any case Kim and I went on a buying spree for the department, for children's books, toys, and magazine file boxes to organize the tests.

Shopping for children's books and anatomy charts for the walls in the clinic

In Dhaka we purchased a series of books made in Bangladesh that illustrate common vocabulary items.  The books were only a couple of dollars each so we bought three copies of each - one to keep whole and two to cut up to make vocabulary items that can be matched and sorted.  You can see the books in the next photo in their plastic pouches:

Kim and I and some interns and fourth year students admire the materials we bought in Dhaka or brought over with us 
Kim used the magazine file boxes to organize the tests

And finally, on the last day, Kim and I held a therapy materials demonstration to show the students how to use the photos, magazine pictures, aphasia screening test, books, and toys.  My mantra was that I wanted them to make therapy fun so that their patients would want to "learn and return".
Using the toy cars and trucks Kim and I bought (and the cardboard garage we made) to work on prepositions

There is lots more that can be done to get the CRP Speech Language Department at Savar  fully equipped. But happily Kim and I managed to complete all the projects we identified as ones we had the skills, time, and money to accomplish.