Thursday, March 31, 2011

ventures into the blogosphere :: miss lovie creations

I spent some time last weekend hopping around from one link to another on different blogs, and found this project on Miss Lovie Creations.

I know I'm a completely terrible U of L student graduate (I even got my diploma today!) to post this, but I care so little about sports that it's irrelevant.  My husband, however, cares a LOT about those wildcats.  So last weekend, I grabbed some remnants and made a super-simplified version of this project for our door.  I only had long strips of my blue and white fabric, which meant I couldn't make the flowers, so I tied a big bow instead and went with it.  C. approves.

Allie has a few other projects you might enjoy, and you should take a look at this post about a Sew Along for Japan that she's participating in.  The project itself is adorable and I love the idea of sending something handmade and special to children in need.  I'm going to look up more about it and I'll share what I find.  

I'm taking tomorrow and Saturday off of blogging while I babysit for some of my favorite kids, so goodbye until Sunday!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Just Read :: Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro

Never Let Me Go is my first experience with Kazuo Ishiguro's gifted prose.  His language has an intelligent and occasionally elegiac sort of conversational tone, as if Kathy H was sitting across from you, with an infinite source of memories and the time to tell and connect them.  From the start, I felt as if I had to question her reliability, for she is already defending herself from the first page.  "I'm not trying to boast," she tells us, and she informs us that "I'm not making any big claims for myself" just a few sentences later.  For the rest of the novel, however, only her viewpoint is shared, which kindles a question in my mind--is her perception of the events of her life accurate, or is it shaded by what she wants to make of it?

This question, in turn, shaded my reading of the rest of the novel, and yet kept me enchanted.  Kathy H does not often describe her emotions, but rather her reactions.  Everything feels hushed, covered up, and I believe this is exactly what Ishiguro intended, because that is the experience of the characters.  Their lives are hushed and hidden from most of the world, and the outside world is hidden from and hushed for them.  People would like to forget that they exist.  Even the people who fight to improve their lives--at least for a little while--want to hide and live quietly in the end, unable to face the reality of who Kathy, Ruth, Tommy, and the other children from Hailsham really are.  

I'm intentionally obscuring the plot because I feel this is a novel you have to read for yourself.  I still haven't decided what I think, honestly.  I don't know if I can sympathize with anyone--Kathy, Ruth, Tommy, Madame, or any of the teachers.  I wonder if Ishiguro meant for Miss Lucy to be the one good teacher, who loved the students fully for who they were, or if Miss Emily and Madame are the ones that actually love the students, and Miss Lucy is a bit of a wolf in sheep's clothing.  Is Miss Lucy better than the other teachers because she confronts the truth and lets the children know their future, or is it better that Miss Emily deliberately shelters them, telling them only little bits at a time, and gives them a childhood?

In the end, the most deep-seated question is simply this: are Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy real, true, full people, or are we going to imagine that they are not, so that their fate does not weigh on our hearts--and regardless of the answer to this question, we have to ask ourselves how we could ever decide what it is that makes a person.  It's a heavy question, and a heavy book, but Ishiguro executes his prose so gracefully and beautifully that every page somehow remains light.  What's the verdict? Read it.

Never Let Me Go is available for purchase through better world books here or at your local bookstore.  Please see my first just read post for my thoughts on where to buy books, and my favorite book shop in my hometown.  You can also rent the movie, but a lot of things are different, so be prepared for that.  I loved it enough to buy it, but in a different way from how I love the book.  It's worth watching for the visual appeal alone; the entire film has an ephemeral atmosphere.  Since I could never, ever tell someone to watch a movie instead of reading a book, I recommend you do both.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

An Easter Treasury

You'll find all sorts of lovely, springtimey, Eastery things.  Stop and take a look!

FOUND :: Easter Treasuries on Etsy

Spring is hiding somewhere past the chilly temperatures we're still feeling here, and Easter's not so far, either.  I feel like Easter is often overlooked, or fully occupied by bunnies and eggs, when it comes to craft and handmade design.  It's sort of funny to me, since Easter is a celebration of the resurrection, of a return to life, and what could be more wonderful than that?  Maybe it's just my experience, though, feeling like Easter gets forgotten, since we don't get a lot of days off around Easter (like we do for Christmas and Thanksgiving) and the holiday gets a little forgotten.  Anyway, since I feel a little more interested in celebrating this year, since I actually get off for the weekend, I did a little Etsy hunting to find some treasuries--and some lovely things--that are perfect for spring and for celebrating the miracle of Easter.

the cycle of life by ArzuMusa

And just to keep things interesting, I'm going to put one together myself in a little while.  In the meantime, here are two more treasuries you might like.

I'll give you the link to my treasury in a few hours.  Until then, have a lovely day!

All images belong to the shop owners listed beneath.  If you're interested in purchasing an item, the link below the image will take you to its sale posting. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Nitpicky English Major's Guide to Grammar: Creating Complete Sentences

Let me be honest with you: incomplete sentences irritate me.  They break off and leave me wondering what, exactly, you meant to say.  When you're writing, even creatively, you always want your reader to know what you want to say.  If you do not convey your purpose and meaning, then why write anything for others to read?

In order to understand how to write a complete sentence, we (Why, yes, I am employing the so-called "royal we") must examine what makes a sentence.  To begin, we have the subject, highlighted in bold below.

The flowers are blooming.

The subject is the part of the sentence that performs an action of some sort.  Sometimes the subject is simple, like "the flowers."  Other times, it's a little more complicated, like in this example.

The tall, slim, and purple flowers are blooming.

In addition to the subject, we must have the predicate, the part of the sentence that contains the action, highlighted in bold below.  This must be a conjugated verb.  To tell if your verb is conjugated, look for two things.  First, if it ends in "ing," but does not have a helping verb before it (like "are" in the sentence below), then it is not conjugated.  Second, if it is in the infinitive form ("to" something, like "to play," "to run," etc.), then it is not conjugated.  If you have an unconjugated verb, then change its form or add helping verbs.  An example of a predicate is as follows:

The flowers are blooming.

Just like the subject, the predicate can be simple or complicated, like this example.

The flowers are blooming and growing rapidly.

Now, if we really want to break it down, the only essential part of the subject is the word "flowers," and the only essential part of the predicate is the word "are."  See, in a complete sentence, we need a noun and a conjugated verb.  So our sentence could actually be just like this:

Flowers are.

Sometimes, a group of words will have both of these features--a noun and a conjugated verb--but is still not a complete sentence.  You might look at that squiggly green line under your words in Microsoft Word and want to scream at your computer.  But the answer is actually pretty simple, once you know how to look for it: if the noun and verb are part of a dependent clause, then you do not have a complete sentence.

"A what?" you ask? Let me explain, with some help from a textbook I found in the writing center:

"If the conjugated verb and its subject are introduced by a danger word, you do not have a complete sentence; it does not express a complete thought.  It is a cliff-hanger, because it begins a statement but does not finish it.  Example: If you come home...[what?]" (Troyka and Nudelman 107).

What are these danger words?  Well, you can go back to last week's post and look at the list of prepositions in the link I included.  Those are always clues.  If they show up before the subject, then you probably have a dependent clause, which is most easily defined as a group of words that needs to be connected to a sentence (it depends on the sentence, you could say).  There are some other "danger words" that don't always show up before the subject, however, and these can be hard to spot.  They sneak their way in between the subject and the predicate on occasion.  Troyka and Nudelman's list consists of these words: who, whom, which, that, whoever, whomever, what, and whatever (107).  If you spot a group of words like this one, you know that it's not a complete sentence.

The flowers that are blooming.

In order to be a complete sentence, some changes would have to be made.  You could remove "that," or you could add to the sentence, maybe saying, "The flowers that are blooming are pretty."  Either option will give you a complete sentence.  Troyka and Nudelman offer two tips for correcting fragments caused by "danger words."  First, you could "attach the fragment to the previous sentence or to the one that follows, whichever is most closely connected in thought to the fragment."  You could also "complete the fragment with the necessary words" (108). 

So, in summary, you should look for three things when identifying a complete sentence:

1. a subject (a noun)*
2. a predicate (containing a conjugated verb)
3. no "danger words" (which would create a dependent clause)

If all of these check out, then you probably have a complete sentence.  Write on!

*The only exception to this rule is the command, in which the subject is not always stated.  If you have a sentence like "Go home," then it is complete, even though there is no noun before the verb.  The subject is an implied "you."  To check that this is accurate, write in the "you," and if it still makes sense, you most likely have a complete sentence.

I may have bachelor's degree in English and be preparing for a master of arts program, but I can't always explain things in plain language, so today, I pulled out a book that actually explains things pretty well, in spite of being a grammar textbook.  It's older in the realm of scholarship, but it's still accurate.  I wonder if my boss will let me keep it, since she was going to get rid of it?  How nerdy does that make me?  Anyway, here's the source:
Troyka, Lynn Quitman, and Jerrold Nudelman.  "The Sentence Fragment." Steps in Composition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc, 1999. Print.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

making and remaking :: a memo board redux

I found this board in the trash.  I know, I know, probably gross, right?  But it was freshly thrown out, sitting on top of some cardboard and far from gross things.  So I picked it up, brought it in, and forgot about it.

But then I quit one of my three (very part time) jobs because I wasn't getting any hours (as in, five or fewer).  This came after my full-time at one job was reduced to half, meaning I went from forty-plus hours a week at work to right about thirty, tops.  So I cleaned, and I found the little board tucked behind the shelf with all my fabric.

Here's how it started:

Cute, yes, but definitely not my style.  There were soft pink grosgrain ribbons, too, but I forgot to photograph the board before I tore them off.  I began to peel the backing off, then the fabric, using my craft knife whenever the glue would not come undone.  It was a mess.

Upon removing the paper and fabric, my first thought was "Ah! So that's how they make these!" followed by "I could totally do that right now if I had some foam and a thin sheet of wood," which I have every intention of doing.

I then pulled out a strip of fabric cut from an adorable bed sheet I found for a dollar at Peddler's Mall.  I love this print and want to cover a million things with it, but anyway.  I learned this: cut the fabric so only an inch overlaps on the back of the board, or you'll end up wasting fabric and glue.  Also, cut a little square out of the corners before you try to glue the sides down--it's so very much easier.

Keeping the lace "ribbons" attached was a nightmare.  I don't have a staple gun (here), ran out of sticks for my hot glue gun, and completely used up my bottle of tacky glue while putting the fabric on.  So I used a regular stapler, which will hold for now.  I'll take it up to Louisville with me later this week and fix it at my parents' house.  Still, the back of the thing was terribly ugly.  There were scraps of paper I couldn't get off and tacky glue dries clear but kind of glossy.  To remedy this situation, I pulled out the roll of wallpaper, which has been the best dollar spent on craft supplies ever, that I used on my headboard and some fall decorations that I apparently never photographed (boo!).  It's uneven underneath, but it looks oh-so-much-better.  The front is what gets seen, anyway.

This is definitely much better.  
Now, where should I put it?

I'm linking up to The Girl Creative, so there's a button in this post again.  I'm trying  to find ways to actually share my projects in places where they'll be seen--is that silly?  I don't think so.  I'd like to know if anyone else likes these things.  Do you mind the extra buttons?  I hope not.

I also have to share what I just found, from the blogger who posted her project right before mine.  It's a Millennium Falcon cake.  My nerdy heart screamed in delight, and I think my sister-in-law must make this for some occasion some time, since I have never successfully baked a cake. 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

happy saturday links

I always mean to post in the morning, but today, I was thoroughly absorbed with a book, making chocolate chip pancakes (which taste fine but always make a mess and look awful), and making a really good risotto-ish meal for lunch.  Reading Julie and Julia would be very bad if I were trying to lose weight, although the descriptions of meat preparations were sufficiently off-putting for me and my complete lack of interest/occasional disgust with meat that I didn't get too hungry.  I did use a little too much butter, perhaps, for someone with my family history of high cholesterol at young ages, but I always get the low-fat stuff anyway, so does it matter?

Meanwhile, this week, I've practically drooled over the food on What Katie Ate and improvised an out-of-the-box (because-I-have-been-to-Kroger-four-times-this-week-and-don't-want-to-go-again) version of this meal, dreamed a little of living in this home featured on Decor8 (only preferably not in Michigan, since even Kentucky challenges my cold tolerance), been terribly distracted by all the documents scanned into this database at Wofford College and shared on flickr, rediscovered this casual wedding I bookmarked awhile ago, and laughed so hard at Emily's comment on this post.

You should, too.

once again, these images of some of the things I love are from the flickr creative commons.  it's my favorite way to find things that you can share without breaking copyright law--as long as you give attribution, because that's the kind and right thing to do.

Friday, March 25, 2011

friday interruptions :: take it from the poets

I discovered this prompt in my little writer's inspiration book:

"There is a special throne in heaven for poets, who labor in obscurity.  The rest of us harbor an unexpressed hope for fame and glory. You might be tempted to write for a market.  You might be tempted to ride the crest of a trend.  That kind of writing is about as stable and fulfilling as day trading.  Write what moves you.  Write what interests you.  Take a cure from the poets, bless their underfunded little hearts."
{Monica Wood in The Pocket Muse}

I have to pause and think about what I write, then.  If I pull out my journal, I'll see that it portrays me as angry and sad, because that's the only time I seem to fill its pages.  It reveals how I neglect to always record happy things.  I think, though, that it's because I write those things here.  I have to share the good, effuse about the joyful things that happen.  I think quite often on why I actually write a blog.  It's kind of presumptuous, if you think about it.  Does it really matter if I think that Let the Great World Spin was a fantastic read?  If I quit writing every day, would anyone be deeply affected?  Does my little bitty website, read by only a handful of people (mostly close friends and relatives), actually make any impact on the world?  The answer to all of these is no, not really.  It doesn't hugely affect the world.  

It mostly affects me.  I guess writing my blog is actually rather selfish.

I know I write about many frivolous things, or at least items that can easily be deemed a luxury, even if they are affordable--art prints, handmade clothing, interior decor, even books.  Sometimes I wonder if I should write about something more important.  But this is what I've decided: I write about these "luxury" things because they are a sign of something good.  They are the product of creativity, and they reveal something about our world.  Would we ever create anything if we did not believe that there is enough goodness in the world to make it worth bringing anything into it?  

Maybe I should phrase it like this: sometimes, when you're just going from one part of your day to the next and on this continuous mundane routine, you forget to stop and think.  You get used to your surroundings and tired of them.  Sometimes, maybe even often, it's time to pause and think.  When I get on the internet and find something beautiful and interesting, then, I stop and think about why it is lovely, and why I like it.  Then I write about it and share it, frivolous though it may be, because I hope that someone else will also pause, and think, and enjoy a moment. 

the first and third images in this post are listed under the creative commons on flickr.  if you share them, please post attribution as their owners have requested.  you should also read the poem that was posted with the second image here, called writing through windows.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Just Read :: Let the Great World Spin, by Colum McCann

"Those who saw him hushed."

The novel opens with a snapshot of New York, stunned and silent at the sight of Philippe Petit walking a tightrope between the towers of the World Trade Center in 1974.  McCann then proceeds to take us through what ultimately feels a heady race through the lives of characters whose fates will all cross before the close of the novel.  Ciaran narrates the story of his borther, John Corrigan, a Jesuit priest, struggling with his faith and trying to give a refuge to prostitutes in the projects of the South Bronx.  Fernando Y. Marcano dreams of being a photographer but for now tags subway walls with spraypaint in places no one can see.  Claire lives on the Upper East Side, embarrassed by her wealth and grieving for her son killed in Vietnam.  Lara and Blaine are artists, married, leaving the city after a night-long drug binge for their 1920s lifestyle in upstate New York.  Gereth, Compton, Dennis, and Sam are in California, writing computer code and prank calling pay phones in New York; they hear the narration of the tightrope walk from two bystanders.

These narrations are only half the book.  It's a little dizzying, but keep reading, because it comes together, and McCann knows how to throw in a sharp phrase and terse dialogue.  In a scene set in a hospital, we read "A pair of oddly frightened eyes, looking way beyond the camera. 'And the girl?" (137).  These phrases and structures catch you and make you see the narrator's world.  McCann briefly narrates Petit's preparation and walk in between sections, imagining the strength and discipline it took to accomplish the sensational feat.

The overall reviews of Let the Great World Spin are positive.  Some challenge that he employs stock characters.  The fallen priest, the tragic woman of the street, the hipster artist, and the self-conscious socialite wife are all common figures.  But in a novel of this scope, with this great a cast, stock characters not only work, but become necessary--and a case can be made that McCann's characters are thoroughly developed enough to be much more than stock.  I can't tell you if you will love them or hate them.  I often faltered between the two myself, which is why I feel that they were real and multidimensional.  Regardless of your take on the extent of cliche characters in this novel, they will make you feel.  McCann is not afraid of grit or melodrama, and employs them both.  The language is sometimes strong, not so much in the sailor's-mouth sense, but in that it is hard and solid and occasionally grotesque.  I read this book quickly but not lightly.

McCann, along with nearly ever reviewer, acknowledges that it is impossible to read this novel without thinking of the ultimate fate of the World Trade Center nearly ten years ago (can you believe how long it's been?), and I must agree.  It doesn't cloud your thoughts constantly, perhaps, but it continually shades the narrative, which itself seems to be spinning towards imminent disaster.  What McCann does, however, is bring up a touch of life from the disasters that strike, and the narrative does not end in utter defeat, but instead reaffirms that life will keep moving, always.

Ultimately, I have to recommend it.  It makes you feel and pause.  The heady and hurried narrative and the constant crossings and additions of characters all form a living New York, 1974, and make you feel that no matter where you are, even a small town in the midsouth, the world and peoples' lives are constantly going on and perpetually intertwined.

if you are looking for the book, it can be purchased online through Better World Books here, or you can check your local library.  if you choose to purchase it in a bookstore, i recommend finding a local store and supporting them.  they can often order a book they don't have in stock for a discount.  if you are in louisville, please visit a reader's corner in st. matthews.  they are wonderful and i spend obscene amounts of money there when i have it.  usually, they can give you at least 10% off any new books, and their used copies are often less than half price.  

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

special feature: a washi tape project

This funny thing happens when you actually look at your blog archives: you find posts you forgot to actually, well, post.  Is there a way to phrase that sentence without being so redundant and repetitive?

Sorry.  I'll stop with the wordy puns.

So here's a post I wrote in the early fall, and never published (ah, yes, that is the right word!).  It's sort of a how-to just for you.  I did update the dates and such, now that C. and I have been married almost a year (when I first wrote this post, it had been two months).

Last summer, my husband of ten months and I celebrated the second anniversary of our first date.  It was an awkward date, as all tend to be, but grew more comfortable as we sipped white chocolate mochas (in July, I know!) and talked for over five hours.  We then parted for two weeks, which would soon prove the longest we would stay apart.

Over the past two-plus years, we have celebrated some momentous occasions--a wedding, a proposal, I-love-yous, and a first kiss, though not quite in that order--and I wanted to celebrate.  So, drawing inspiration from all the amazing washi tape projects I've seen around the blogosphere, I created a simple-yet-special card to give my husband.

I started with some blank notecards.  I bought a pack of 200 at Target a few months ago, in all different soft shades, which have proven enormously useful.

On each notecard, I wrote down the date of an occasion, a little title, and a few words of description.  I also stamped little hearts under each date, with the number of hearts correlating to the event's place in chronological order.  I chose eight different days, starting with our first date, and ending with our anniversary.  But it would be very simple to extend or shorten the number of cards you use.

I then attached the matching envelopes to each other with a glue stick (acid free), then wrapped washi paper tape around the top and bottom to secure the attachment, since the glue sticks aren't super duper strong and washi tape is far more pretty.  I had a marker with a heart stamp on one end and did a border above and below the washi tape.  I tucked the ends of the top piece of washi tape inside the envelope so that it appears seamless.  Then I just set the cards into their own little pockets and they were ready to go!

It's so fun to look at the cards and remember all the big days of our relationship, but it also reminds us of all the happy little days in between.  Enjoy sharing the same memories with your special someone!



p.s. this project seems to coordinate well with my new blog's colors.  hooray for slight success in matching!

p.p.s. I'm submitting this for the itssoverycheri blog's project party, hence the button at the end of this post.  Cheri has a nifty tutorial on making fabric tape, so you may want to check it out.

ventures into the blogosphere :: love life

I don't remember how I found Kal Barteski's blog.  It could have been anywhere, with all these blogs I read.  I bookmarked it some time ago because of her tiny art collection and these awesome mini bus rolls that I want to buy, but are way too cool for my home.

Seriously, look at them, being all black and white and typographic and cool.  The inspired (or inspiring, depending on your view) lines don't hurt, either.
{click image to go to sale listing}

From the stories on her blog, it sounds like her home is full of fun right now, and maybe a little bit of painting chaos.  I'm no painter, but I can fully sympathize with how easy it is to get carried away with a can of paint, a brush, and at least one success under you eggshell-finish-splotched utility belt.  Once one project goes well, anything seems possible.  Maybe that's why her bus rolls are so positive?

I'll be back later today with a little tutorial/handmade project I found in my unposted archive.  It was from August, but the colors are rather spring-time-y, so I'll be sharing it now.  Have a lovely day!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

update :: for japan with love + shelterbox

I saw this pinned on Pinterest (oh, my, redundancy) today.  The proceeds, like all the donations in the for japan with love, will go to Shelterbox.

You can look at the work already going on in Japan through shelterbox here or look at their newsfeed/RSS here to find out how they are helping.  You can also visit the page for their USA office here.  This article details the arrival of the first set of boxes, each of which contains a tent, blankets, a took kit, and other items you can read more about here.  If you're considering a donation, take a look and see how it will be put into action.  It's one thing to give, but another to know how your giving will be used; this knowledge involves your heart even more than writing a check or entering a credit card number.

FOUND :: the little fox, on Etsy

When I spotted this collection of postcards on my cousin's blog today, I knew I'd be writing about the shop.  The Little Fox describes herself as a "picture crafter, imagination enthusiast, and bedtime stories fabricator."  Her illustrations reflect a fairy-tale aesthetic expressed in wide-eyed, sometimes ingenuous, primarily female subjects.  They're adorable and they're somehow enchanting.

Her prints ship free worldwide, so don't worry that she's in the United Kingdom.  The Little Fox is also having a sale at the moment, so this print is only twelve dollars, placing it in the category of affordable art.  I could see these in a young girl's bedroom, or in a creative space, or even in a whimsical living room, which I fully intend to have someday.  

The Little Fox also blogs on a whimsy and pretty site here, which you should most definitely read for at least a bit. I'm a little in love with the colors and font she uses.  They're so sweet and fanciful.

all images link back to their listings on Etsy and belong to The Little Fox.  please be kind and give her credit if you share these images elsewhere, because they are copyrighted.

Monday, March 21, 2011

pay it forward update

I finished my pay it forward project today, and I'll be sending them off just as soon as I can get my hands on some packing tape and stamps. Until then, this blurry little image (because I'm fond of surprises) will have to do. I'll post the completed projects (with less obnoxiously crappity crap photos than usual!) next week, once I'm sure everyone has received their little package.
Posted by Picasa

The Nitpicky English Major's Guide to Grammar :: Where does my comma go?

{logo image found on vintageprintable and altered by me}

Have you heard of the Oxford comma?  I like it.  I use it in lists of three or more items such as books, movies, or magazines.  See what I did there?  There's a comma after books, after movies, and after magazines (the Oxford Comma is the one after "movies").  But I'm not going to talk about the Oxford Comma all day, because it's really boring, even to those of us crazy enough to major in English.  I'll spare you. 

However, the Oxford Comma shows the reality that the use of the comma is often disputed.  One English teacher taught me to use the Oxford comma; another crossed it out in all my papers.  But there are always a few places that you pretty much always need one.  The first is after any sort of prepositional phrase that begins a sentence.  Here are some examples, with the prepositional phrase in bold:

When I go to the bank, I deposit money.  
Under the bridge, there was water.
In between the house, car, and garage, a kitten was asleep.

Now, a preposition does not always denote a prepositional phrase, like this:

Under the bridge was where the water collected.

Here, "under the bridge" works as the subject of the sentence, meaning that it performs the action of the sentence, which is, in this case, "was." "Under the bridge" functions as one noun.  You don't need a comma.  

So how do you ever tell the difference?  You can think about how you would replace the words in question.  If you could replace the group of words with "that," it's probably not a prepositional phrase.  Look at this example again.  The words that may be replaced with that are in bold.

Under the bridge was where the water collected.
That was where the water collected.

Meanwhile, you can see that replacing "under the bridge" with "that" doesn't work in this sentence:

Under the bridge, there was water.
That, there was water.

It doesn't sound or look right, does it?

So when you do have a prepositional phrase (like this little bit right here before the comma in this sentence), you will need a comma after it.  A pretty good list of prepositions can be found here, and if you have a phrase that begins with one, I'd recommend looking at the examples above and evaluating whether or not you need a comma.  

{image found on yourenglishlessons; original source noted in copyright on image}

In summary, you can reasonably determine your comma needs, at least when it comes to prepositional phrases, by answering these questions:

1. Is there a preposition in my sentence?
2. If yes, does it introduce a phrase (such as in something, through something, or because something)?
3. If it does introduce a phrase, where does this phrase end (usually after the "something" in question 2)?

If you answered yes to the first two questions, place the comma at the end of the phrase, as determined by question three.

I'll talk about comma use for interjections and other grammatical functions another time.  This is quite enough for now!

moving day

Yesterday, I posted on my old wordpress blog that I'm officially switching to blogger, so here I am.  I have plenty to share!  Changes are most definitely coming, since I have a little more time these days to plan and create content that I hope you'll enjoy.  I've been contemplating a posting schedule and think it's come together now.

On Mondays, I will be writing a grammar and style guide.  I'm always putting my poor man through my tirades about the state of grammatical knowledge in society, so I am going to actually do something about it and share the knowledge I have of grammar, spelling, and punctuation through what I hope will be an easy to read set of posts.  I believe in making grammar, spelling, and punctuation as simple to understand as possible.  I also plan to include plenty of pictures so you don't fall asleep.  I hope to answer those really simple and silly questions that no one ever clarifies when you are in school.  Most of the guide will relate to writing in general, but I might throw in some tips about MLA and academic writing while I'm at it.

On Tuesdays, I'll be highlighting artists and independent shops (like on Etsy and Big Cartel) found around on the internet (and maybe occasionally in person!).  I'm thinking about emailing the sellers and artists and asking them a few questions, so maybe I'll even post these as interviews, if people are willing to put the time into an interview on a virtually unknown blog.  This I will have to ponder a bit more. 

On Wednesdays, I will spotlight some of the blogs I've found during my browsing.  I've been doing this for awhile on posts tagged and/or titled "ventures into the blogosphere."  Nothing much will change with these, except that they'll be scheduled.

On Thursdays, I will share reviews of my latest readings (or, if I have not finished something recently, a book I've read and written about before, just not online). 

On Fridays, I'll be posting an essay written by myself.  I'm looking for ideas for subjects; I think these will function somewhat like the "interruptions" I'd been writing occasionally.  I have a little writing inspiration guide at home, so I'll probably respond to prompts found in there. 

On Saturdays, I'll share a bunch of links for your weekend reading pleasure. 

There will also be occasional features, like tutorials, that I'll post once or twice a month. 

Now your chin may drop in amazement if you actually know me, because this is probably one of the most organized things I've ever done.  Be proud! 

I'll be back in a few hours with the first entry in the weekly grammar guide. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

ventures into the blogosphere: this is keeping fingers crossed

I'm not feeling incredibly writing-inspired at the moment, so I'm keeping the links short today and sending you to the blog of a friend and former classmate, Laura, editor-at-large of the Asbury Collegian and great writer, where you'll find this lovely batch of words by Rosemarie Urquico.

this is keeping fingers crossed: date a girl who reads

{silhouette by mountainbrook on Etsy}

You may also want to take a look at the post I put up just a teensy bit ago and see how much has been raised by the blogging community for Shelterbox.  Visit here for information on how many boxes have already been sent, and how many are ready to go at a moment's notice.  Incredible!


check this out.

Over twelve hundred bloggers have joined in.  This online community is not just huge, but wonderfully good natured.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

for japan with love: another way (or two)

I spotted this on SFGirlByBay and, since the profits are going to the Red Cross, wanted to share.

W+K Studio is selling this poster with 100% of the profits going directly to the Red Cross for relief effort.

{help japan poster-click the image to go to the Big Cartel listing}

Sometimes, I've heard (and thought) that it's a little ridiculous to actually get some sort of gift-reward-thing for donating to a cause.  Shouldn't you just be happy to donate?

But I was thinking about this today, and realized something--it's a win-win situation, provided the thing you receive is not reducing the amount you give.  The reason for this is simply that getting something, like a poster, or a pair of Toms, or a necklace, gives you a way to start a conversation about what that item represents.  A friend asks about the poster on your wall, and you can tell them about this way that people are raising money to do something good.  A friends asks about your shoes, and you can tell them about how many kids don't have any shoes for themselves.  You give a friend a necklace as a gift and tell her that the money spent on it went to help victims of human trafficking in Asia.  You don't brag on how you've given so much money, but rather brag on all the good things that people are doing, and tell people how they can support something good, too.

{a rose by any other name-click the image to go to Etsy listing}

Ez of Creature Comforts is also donating all proceeds (outside of the less-than-$2-shipping cost) to the Red Cross from sales in her Etsy shop Wren & Chickadee.  Her photos are beautiful and under $20, so if you're limited in what you can give, it's still feasible; just be sure to make the purchase before March 25th, which is when she's going to tally the amount raised and send it to the Red Cross.
{entwine-click the image to go to the Etsy listing}

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

she was a hoot, and other happy thoughts

Today, I'm feeling a bit lighthearted.  The sun came out again and is warming up this previously grey and drizzly little town.  A few weeks ago, I found and bookmarked a bunch of little prints by Corid on Etsy, and their colors all seem perfectly suited to the spring that finally seems to be popping up around here.  Would you like to take a look?

Her prints are generally $20 and shipping is inexpensive, so they definitely fall into the category of affordable art and would be adorable to hang in a series.  She also has her shop sorted by color, which I find not only genius, but enormously helpful for my color-impaired self.  You really should take a look.  I'm pretty sure you'll smile.  Her blog showcases more of her work that isn't for sale, and I think you'll like that, too.

Any and all rights to the photos and illustrations above belong to Corid and link back to their Etsy listings, so please don't share them without giving credit.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

for japan with love.

I know you've heard all about it and seen the footage.  It's everywhere and you can't get away from it.  I also know the frustration one can feel when something like this happens.  We ask why, we ask why now, we ask a million questions.  We feel a frustrating tightrope under our feet, which we walk hovering with a balance of  sorrow and the fact that our lives, right here and now, aren't all that different from the way they were the day before.  When something horrible and awful happens on the other side of the world, it's hard to know what to do or how to feel, because one must keep living his or her life while others' lives are changed forever.

The truth is, while we can do a million things, we also can't do anything at all.  It has already happened and that can't be changed.  But we can show our support for the people who are struggling right now to survive.  Even if you can't give money or time, you can show support.  Several bloggers are participating in a day of silence on Friday, with no posts.  The time and energy usually given to composing posts can be dedicated instead to thoughts and prayers for Japan.  This day of silence was initiated by the ladies at Utterly Engaged and Ever Ours, and you can find more information here.

They're also gathering donations for a group called ShelterBox, which you can read about here and donate to by clicking the image in this post.  You may also want to look at the comprehensive list gathered by the Huffington Post, which is linked to, along with a few other sites, on Annekata's blog here.  World Vision and Compassion International, organizations which my family has supported for some time (and that I've seen in action directly), are also involved in relief.  Please do take the time to look, pray, and do what you can.

Monday, March 14, 2011

under construction...

I'm transitioning from one blog platform to another and someday soon it'll all be right here!

a little bit of delight

Last week, during my trip home, I had the misfortune of needing a filling on a chipped tooth (popcorn kernels are dangerous, people!).  So when I arrived back at my mom and dad's with no feeling in the right side of my mouth and saw this, I think I was at the very least twice as delighted as I could possibly have been otherwise.

There they were, on the front porch, waiting for me.  I can't believe they arrived the day I was in town, since it's the first time I've been in town on a non-mail-holiday in quite awhile.  In two days, I saw my best friend and conspired with her now-fiance in setting up her engagement (teehee!), saw friends I had not seen since my wedding and earlier (along with the very adorable three year old daughter of a friend, who I last saw as a baby), went to the dentist, doctor, and fabric store (only enjoying the last one), and drove back to small town land.  It was mostly lovely and all very very busy.

Oh, but you are bored with the recitation of my schedule last weekend?  You want to know what came in the box?  What splendiferous items did I choose with my certificate?

Here you go.

a vintage olive green briefcase & a fire king casserole bowl with an adorable flower pattern

a circa-1980s craft book with surprisingly good taste & a better homes and gardens recipe book

a packet of illustrations from some old books

and isn't it packaged so prettily?

There was one more little item inside, but it's a little hush-hush until it's united with its lucky recipient.  Until then, I'm simply trying to keep cozy on a very grey day in small town land and missing the lovely sunlight in my parents' house--and the warmth from yesterday.

{p.s. A million bajillion thanks, yet again, to Alex Keller and Dottie Angel.  I've come to the conclusion that crafters (and, it seems, craft bloggers) are generally lovely people.}

Saturday, March 12, 2011

good morning, saturday

or, rather, good afternoon.

Are you ready for some good things?  This week's links come courtesy of my wanderings around Pinterest.
{spotted here and already sold by gollybard on etsy}

Check out this terrific amazing awesome recreation of Up (which I once posted about here) by National Geographic, highlighted in the weekly Pinterest newsletter.  You should also look at this Pinterest board form Brandi of Not Your Average Ordinary, because I'm sure you will walk away feeling motivated to do something great, or at least with a smile.  I also like this stairway, pinned here and from there.  I like walls and furnishings and a lot of nontraditional writing surfaces covered in words.  Sometime last year, on a whim and in a flurry of some stressed-out emotion, I painted a quote from Les Mis on my bedroom wall at my parents' home, with just a little brush and some dripping paint.  I don't think I even covered my bed, which thankfully did not get paint on it...but I digress. I was reading Housekeeping this morning and feel full of descriptive phrases at present, which may explain my sudden interest in well-crafted phrases this morning.

Have a lovely Saturday.

Friday, March 11, 2011


I just realized something silly about myself.

I really, really like dishtowels.  Pretty dishtowels.  I was busily browsing anthropologie (trying to get some creativity flowing in my brain) and looked at no fewer than four in a row.  Some of them are so lovely, and take artistic elements you'd usually find in a print and put them into a practical item.  Take this one, for example, from anthropologie:

{from here}

Or check out these from Heart of Light:

Maybe this one will give me motivation to do the dishes (even though C. normally does them)...

This one would probably get framed, not used.

{also from anthropologie}

I have got to learn more and start doing some printing on fabric myself, because I could spend a fortune if I were to indulge this pretty textile obsession that I feel growing at present...