Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Pickwick Papers

I had tried this novel before and this time around I took awhile to warm up to it, but then I enjoyed it greatly. Well, I enjoyed the Wellers immensely anyway.

The plot was intentionally mishmash, if you could even say that the book had a plot. The tone varied from the lightest type of humor to rather serious at times to more sophisticated humor and many blends of all these tones.

I could feel that this was Dickens' first novel; his deep characters could be a little stock and his caricatures a bit shallow. I suppose he had not gotten into his characterization stride yet. Mr. Pickwick himself was rather a sanctimonious, pompous prig who was often rather rude to poor Winkle. Winkle's cowardice and ineptitude could be funny at time but painful at other times. Mr. Snodgrass was my favorite of the quartet but received the smallest attention. Dickens rather abruptly dropped and picked up characters in this novel.

In the Wellers Dickens gets very near to his later greatness. "Samivel" "Veller" and his father were definitely both the most excellently created and developed characters and my favorite ones. Often I find lower class accents in Dickens' novels irritating (that could be because the characters are usually irritating people), but I enjoyed the Wellers' accents.

This novel is not superb compared to Dickens' later works, but for a young man in his mid-twenties it is a brilliant first novel. And there dies any mercy for all the so-called "writers" that are all over the home-schooled/ Christian fiction internet world.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Fall Sewing

I pulled out my autumn clothes at the end of August to look through them. I had hardly any dress clothes and no everyday bottoms that fit. I did however have a TON of sweaters. I just need more necklaces and scarves for those. I bought some brown fabric during a New Year's sale at Hancocks, so I made two skirts. I tried to make the plain (twill, I think) one look a bit nicer with edge and top-stitching since I simply followed a basic pattern. The other fabric was cheap, so I did not do much different except hand-stitch the hem. I had enough of the twill for a pencil skirt which is on hold since I need a zipper that matches decently.

Monday, September 21, 2015

What I have Been Reading

New Reads:
Steal Like an Artist
I probably should have included this in an earlier book post but forgot. The book should not be forgotten though. It is really simple and I do not agree with everything, but it is SO fun, interesting, and encouraging for people who like to create and are talented. 

Artemis Fowl
I had heard of this before but had no idea of anything other than the Irish setting (I picked it for "a book set in a foreign country" which since it barely reflected anything other than the stereotyped magic obsession probably is cheating but whatever). The plot starts slow but is mysterious and interesting but then the author sped up the pace and added in waaay too many undeveloped details for so small and simple a book. Artemis, the character, started out intriguing but again, greater promise than deliverance. All the other characters were rather dull with the exception of the dwarf who was unnecessary and unnecessarily disgusting. Overall the book was not well-written. I would like to try others but I do not know if I will finish them, we will see. I need to reevaluate my reading of nonsense.

Percy Jackson
I tried this book at least once before, and I know I skipped through it a little (but did not even find that interesting). I chose this for my "everyone has read but you" entry on one of my book challenges. I found the characters somewhat interesting but stock and rather, um, strikingly familiar. Ya, know, black-haired, green-eyed, ├╝ber-specially talented preteen with a connection to lightning and a female best friend who is an obnoxious know-it-all. Oh wait, its a 2 males, 1 female bestie triumvirate! That sounds really familiar. Other than nervousness, Grover is not such a blatant copy-cat of Ron as the former two mentioned are of Harry and Hermione. Not well written in regards to character development/originality (obviously said in Snape voice), plot development, and description, yeah, basically everything . . . why am I reading these again? I think I will try more of the series anyway.

Northanger Abbey
Ah, Henry. He did like Catherine more and sooner than the intensity (i.e. liking+pity) and time-frame (near the end) than I thought I remembered the book implying.

Catherine was not quite as silly as I had thought and the movie implied plus had a greater sense of right. But compared to my teenage sisters she is quite silly.

In the book Isabella was a fortune hunting, jilting, double-sided, manipulative flirt. Obviously not a nice person but the movie added immorality to all these characteristics which majorly changes both the character and the tone of the story. Likewise, Captain Tilney was a young-ish flirt in the book, not the middle-aged rake the movie portrays. Also the novels Catherine reads in the book are not as scandalous as the movie implies nor of the type of scandal the movie implies.

Henry is hilarious and is perfection.

I enjoyed the cozier tone (as opposed to the "formality"/distance of the other novels) of this novel this time.

"Is there a Henry in the world who could be insensible to such a declaration? Henry Tilney at least was not. " p. 70

"Catherine . . . enjoyed her usual happiness with Henry Tilney, listening with sparkling eyes to everything he said; and, in finding him irresistible, becoming so herself." page 103

"The formidable Henry soon followed her into the room, and the only difference in his behaviour to her, was that he paid her rather more attention than usual. Catherine had never wanted comfort more, and he looked as if he was aware of it." page 160

Saturday, September 19, 2015


I had some coupons for a local tea parlor, so I took my grandmother for her birthday. The parlor is connected to an adorable shop and my grandmother bought me some tea items plus some cookie cutters to use for a wedding shower (we, church+family, have lots of gender reveal parties (I am not super crazy about this; our culture is too into selfish parties and more and more showers and gifts, but for our cousins I am excited) baby showers, wedding showers, weddings, and births starting from late September to January/February).

We had a sweet scone and a savory scone, zucchini muffins, corn souffle, turkey sandwich, chicken salad sandwich, benedictine sandwich, mini shish kebab of sorts, and a variety of cookies and cupcakes.

I just love polka dots.

I have the job of using these and making adorable cookies for one of the wedding showers.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Yarn Along

I caved and finally bought the Holden Shawl pattern. If I pay, I would prefer to pay for a more unique design (this stitch is not an original one), but I did not want to wait to get this class and figure it out myself. Oh, well.

I definitely want to try this with a lighter weight yarn and beading (a photo of such as shawl on Pinterest was my first introduction to this apparently widely popular pattern).

 I am using KnitPicks Diadem variegated; I bought it majorly on sale last fall since they were discontinuing the variegated. The color is darker and more red, but I did not feel like fooling with my camera anymore. One day I will finish that photography class. I saw some Tumblr posts on the tv/movie on Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, so I decided I would read this. Not quite what I was expecting, but interesting.

I finished my little neckerchief, but as I still have not bought blocking boards, a photo will have to wait. I have another project, a scarf, on hold as I found this shawl much more interesting and speedy to knit. I have been looking for sweaters, dresses, and yarn; I will have to see if I can make such big projects work. I already frogged a skirt. I think I want to make up the pattern myself but do not know how to figure out gauge and stitches for cables. Oh, yeah. And I have several baby projects I need to make for which I am having trouble even simply deciding on patterns and yarn. And I only have two months for some of them.

I am linking up here.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Monday, September 14, 2015

A Few Unique Aspects of Style and Color Theory

I love what I have learned on Inside Out Style Blog. I am rather disappointed that she seems to have removed old posts with her updated site though, or maybe I am too techno-ignorant to find them. Here are some unique aspects of fashion and color theory, most of which I had never read about or heard mentioned before I learned about this site. The first two are quite interesting for me because I do not like neutrals, and yet I do not like wearing colors that are too far opposite on the color wheel. And now I know that I do not look good in these and why.

Color Contrast, how eye, hair, and skin color relate to each other in this post.

Value Contrast, the varying intensities in eye, skin, and hair color in this post.

Both together in this post.

Texture and sheen of fabrics and how it relates to the sheen of your skin and hair in this post. I have noticed that I do not look amazing in charmeuse :( and now I know why. FYI oily skin does not equal shiny skin and you also have to consider your hair texture.

Color Intensity in this post.

Comfort in this post.

Beyond the color seasons in this post. I have yet to search further in this one. I bought a summer swatch fan, but I really feel like I need to determine my colors rather than rely on the fan since I looked at some of the colors and noticed ones I knew would not work. Maybe I could get a more reliable set of colors to use via this theory.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Accessories: Scarves

This is my scarf collection minus one (a very important one: my first cashmere scarf). I have only in the last year seriously started my scarf collection and my winter selection is quite limited. I also would like to build my ethereal silk scarf collection. I am also hoping to find a real, white lace scarf.

When you find a clothing item (particularly an accessory that is your color and style (and for me material), you need to snatch it up instead of waiting until you have something to match. If you buy colors in a color determination theory that suit you, all your colors should go together and you will eventually have something with which to wear the piece. And buying items you need when you need them can be disastrous and wasteful (like waaay to large to be easily altered, in a color or style you do not love, and etc.).

When  I worked at Clothes Mentor one of the stores had a scarf tying sheet pinned to a bulletin board, and one style was this braided infinity style. I loved wearing my scarves this way last winter. I also liked tying the ends together to make a regular scarf into an infinity scarf. A customer also showed me a way to make a scarf into a wrap which she said a waitress had showed her; it involved folding it and tying ends together. I think the scarf may have to be a certain shape. I will have to research that. I need to experiment more with styles. I want to build a pin/brooch collection and also get jewelry pieces to turn a regular scarf into a scarf necklace like this. I have collected several tutorials and scarf style lists on Pinterest.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Whimsey Collective Mini Mini-Review

Just read them.

I read them.* I loved him them. I refused to read the sacrilegious last "book."

*I still have a few I need to order through interlibrary loan, but I think those might be mostly collections.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Scarlet Pimpernel Tag

Join in the fun here

1. The obvious question... how'd you get introduced to the Scarlet Pimpernel?
I think I first read it for a church book club. My sister had Dad order ALL the books (quite an assortment of covers and conditions) all of which she read; I was not that thorough.

2.  If you could meet any of the characters in real life, who would you choose and why? (you can use the obvious answer of Sir Percy if you really want to, but this is your chance to get creative. ;))
Besides Sir Percy, Armand (from The Scarlet Pimpernel; he changes age and personality from that book to become a total sap in El Dorado). And after Armand, Tony also from the first book (he too also changes from interesting to sappy between books).

3.  What are your top 3 favorite quotes from the books or movies? (yes, just three)
1980's Movie
Sir Percy: "My dear chap, I never would have dreamt of depriving you of your moment of triumph. Alas, a moment was all I could spare."

Countess de Tournay: "God bless the Scarlet Pimpernel, whoever he may be. Surely he must be an angel in disguise." 
Sir Percy: "Amen." Okay, so I think this for Percy, tone, and facial expression.

Sir Percy: "They seek him here. They seek him there. Those Frenchies seek him everywhere. Is he in Heaven? Or is he in Hell? That damned, elusive, pimpernel." Again, the beauty of the thing is Percy's ridiculousness.

4. Who is your favorite supporting character in the books? (Percy and Marguerite are ineligible)
I am going to cheat and use the movie character of Tony.

5. Which film versions have you seen and which do you like best?
1934 and the 1980s one. The 80's one of course. I feel vaguely as if I might have seen another with a Percy who was not really. I think it was another older one; I am pretty sure that I have not seen the 90's one . . . I think.

6. What's your top-absolute-favorite scene in the first book? (if you've read it-- if not, what's your favorite scene in whichever movie you prefer?)
I have not read the books in years, so I will use the movie. Um, anything with Percy being goofy. But I love the end scene when Percy reappears from "the dead" and taunts Chauvlin.

7. If you could dream-cast a new adaptation of the book (a period piece, that is) who would you choose to play the roles of Sir Percy, Marguerite and Chauvelin?
Tom Hiddleston, the girl from The 100 Foot Journey, and Jason Isaacs (if he can do a good French accent.

8. Do you think the Scarlet Pimpernel does his rescue work purely for "the love of sport," as the narrative would tell us (and as he would often claim) or does he have more noble motives that he won't admit?  Explain your answer.  Show your work.
Of course not. He works far too hard, and he choose to keep his anonymity rather than fame. And I am sure I could come up with more reasons when I (hopefully soon) reread the book (I think it is on my rereads list).

9.  Second to Chauvelin, who is the worst villain in the book series, and why?
I do not remember others, sorry.

10.  What's your favorite novel in the series (if you've read more than one)?  If not, which one are you most excited to read?
El Dorado (I have not read them all; my sister loves the prequels which are on my to-read list). I like increasing in this order (and recommend first-timers read in said order, so that they build up to the best) The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Elusive Pimpernel, and El Dorado. FYI, the 1980's movie is a blend of The Scarlet Pimpernel and El Dorado and is more like the latter, I think.

11.  If you could change one thing about your favorite version of the movie, what would it be?
I think Chauvelin is rather pathetic. He is not the clever, calm, superior villain of the book; he needs to be Percy's equal, so his defeat would be more glorious.

12.  Lastly... how would you convince a skeptical friend to read/watch TSP?  What is it that you love about it?
I do not know. My brother (Mr. Action, modernity, sports, scorning nerds, kind-of-jock, engineer geek) watched it and liked it and asks to watch it again. We count this towards his culture list.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

My First Designer Purse

I have had a suede leather purse, but it was small and I am not a fan of suede. I have usually only had cheaply made but expensive man-made material purses. I want to make some purses, but I will have to buy materials.

Anyway. One of the Clothes Mentor stores had some of their designer purses 50% off a couple of weeks ago, and I bought this, for about $30. I LOVE it. I think it is so beautiful. And because designer purses are not always real leather (which is ridiculous considering their price), I double checked the tag inside to make sure it was real leather. Silver leather, how perfect.

It matches with most of my wardrobe (except some items that are not my season), and the size and style fit my figure well. I tried it on at a mirror with some other purses also; I had not really thought of doing that and how important that is until I noticed customers doing it and felt the weight of some of my other purses. This is a good first step in improving this category of accessory. Now for a nice wallet, nude/cocoa purse, and some cute small cross-body purses for travel and long shopping days.