Friday, April 29, 2011

almost a year

In just a few short weeks, my husband and I will celebrate our first anniversary.  Neither of us can really believe how quickly this year has gone by, and I wonder if it'll always be like that.  We're incredibly young, so the next fifty or sixty years of life seem so enormously long to me right now, but I do hope we're a lot like this adorable couple someday--ridiculously happy together.  I wouldn't mind being that stylish as well.

Both my maternal and paternal grandparents have been married over fifty years, setting up a lovely legacy for Cory and me.  I really think that's a huge part of the reason we felt comfortable and right about marrying when we're so young.  His grandparents have been married more than a few decades as well and we have seen marriages that work.  We both grew up around strong marriages and witnessed the way people grow old together and have learned from our grandparents' examples.  

This couple has been married for fifty-five years.  Isn't lifelong love something to marvel at?  I do wish we saw more of it captured in images and photos and stories like this, but I know that in my life, it'll always be captured in the stories and memories I have and treasure.  For the next few months, while we settle in and choose where to live, Cory and I will be living in the downstairs of my grandparents' house, and I have every intention of collecting stories and advice from my Oma and Papa this summer.  

{all images property of Jesse Holland Photography}

Thursday, April 28, 2011

thinking some thoughts...

I've been thinking about the format of this blog for the last month or so since I switched to blogger and gave my posts a set structure.  While having a plan for the week has gotten me writing on a daily basis and consistently seeking out new content, I've come to the conclusion that it's not sustainable.  I really enjoy writing the grammar guide and the book reviews; those are two things I get and I'm good at.  But I feel like the "found" category and the "ventures into the blogosphere" aren't totally working for me.

valged nartsissid

Sometimes I want to write all about a new blog I've found, but other times, I'd rather post the really interesting DIY I found on Design*Sponge, even though you've probably already seen it, too.  So my heart isn't in it like it used to be when I wrote this blog as a dialogue for myself--a journal of my interests, I guess--instead of a website for which I was trying to gain a readership (which makes me laugh now--I am nowhere near interesting enough for that!).

roaming the neighborhood

In truth, though, the primary reason I think I'll be loosening my self-imposed schedule is simply that my life is going to get a little busier pretty soon.  Once we move, I'll be actively seeking a job, living within minutes of friends and family (actually, living with family for a few months), and probably taking two foreign language courses in preparation for graduate school.  I'll write, sure, but doing so every day might get challenging, and I want to specifically take time to unplug myself from the computer, or write fewer but more thoughtful and informative posts.

Is anything much going to change here?  I don't know.  I might keep to the schedule occasionally, but today I'm deviating.  I'll share a little something with you later, though!

Added later, 10:24 pm...
I'm tired and my allergies arrived in all their springtime glory last night, so I'm saving my post for tomorrow.  If you are one of my few readers and came back, sorry that there's nothing more today.  But wouldn't you prefer a slightly more intelligent and interesting post anyway?  I thought so.  Have a good night.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I'm proud of him!

Just Read :: I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith

Cassandra Mortmain and her family live in a house built onto a crumbling castle sometime between the world wars.  She lives with her elder sister, Rose, her younger brother, Thomas, her father, her stepmother, Topaz, and the son of their deceased housekeeper, Stephen. Her father once wrote a greatly acclaimed book that inspired scholarship, but has not written since a mildly humorous incident more than ten years before the narration begins.  He has also been distinctly antisocial since their mother died, save for a few months, in which he met and married Topaz.  The Mortmains are almost entirely out of money when the novel opens and without the means to begin earning any.  The girls are not skilled in any kind of service and Thomas is too young to leave school.  Stephen is able to provide some income, but the family is still in dire financial circumstances.  Their luck begins to change when the Cottons arrive in town to lay claim to their family property, which includes the castle the Mortmains lease.  A friendship develops between the Cotton family and the Mortmain family, and eventually results in an engagement.
Cassandra narrates the entire novel with a wittiness that becomes well-tuned as the story develops.  She is thoroughly an optimist, even when she navigates the dreadfulness of unrequited love.  She attempts to "capture" the people and experiences in her life through writing, and her skill grows stronger as the novel continues.  The story is part coming of age, part journal, part an artist's journey, and entirely enjoyable.  The plot is character driven and will bore you if you're looking for a lot of action, but make you smile if you are not.

I know I recommend every book I post here, but I really adore this one.  Cassandra reminds me so much of myself in her interests and her tendency to go a little against the grain without ever being rebellious.  If you were ever a book-loving, dream-prone, thoughtful teen, you too will sympathize with her.  I smiled my way through this entire book.  Give it a read and I think you will, too.

It's available for purchase here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

FOUND :: Simplicity.

Okay, so if you read the blogs I read (all. the. time.), then you've probably seen Rachel's posts about a shopping hiatus, or maybe even spotted the series that started it on Simple Lovely or seen how Joslyn continues to spend conscientiously.  Maybe you've read about a spending hiatus on A Cup of Jo.  A search on Google reveals articles about taking a grocery shopping hiatus and using everything in your pantry until you can't make anything from the ingredients you have.  To me, then, it's no surprise that I've been considering taking a hiatus for awhile.  Although I don't have a tendency to spend enormous amounts of money (I don't have enormous amounts and I don't believe in spending what I don't have), I do have a serious tendency to accumulate stuff--not incredibly useful or frequently used stuff, to be exact.  While living in six hundred square feet of a storage-lacking apartment instead of my parents' house has slowed me down on the clutter accumulation, it's hardly a cure.

Abstract Clutter

Furthermore, my beloved macbook, which has so kindly been with me through part of high school and college, is getting a little worn down.  It's probably got another year of life left, but replacing it will not be cheap.  I also really really really want to eventually purchase and learn to use a DSLR (any advice on a good model for an utter beginner would be great, by the way), which is not cheap, either.  While I don't spend a lot of money, it would be wise to put aside what I have been spending and save it for these purchases, so that the income I'll have once I find a job can be put towards a house.

So what if I spent the next three months only purchasing groceries?  Would that be completely crazy?  I don't think so.  Besides, we're already going to have to store half of our stuff in boxes in family members' basements (trying to avoid paying for storage) until we are ready to buy a house.  I don't want to accumulate any more junk than we need.


This concept makes me nervous for a few reasons.  First, I am going to have a lot of downtime until I find a job.  Shopping--okay, spending hours at Joseph-Beth or A Reader's Corner (according to where I reside at any given moment)--is a way I've passed the time and gotten out of the house before.  Second, a lot of my friends also love to shop, so we'll have to find something else to do together.  Third, I wonder if I could actually break the habit of clutter collecting.


I haven't made up my mind about this entirely.  There would be some exclusions, including gifts for summer birthdays, the supplies I'll need to learn a simple version of screenprinting, and a couple of wedding presents, for sure.  When would I start?  Over the next few weeks, we'll be packing everything we have in our apartment, so I KNOW I can't do any shopping then.  I suppose starting today would be kind of clever, no?

What are your thoughts?

If I do embark on this little big adventure, then I think this series will change into a record of how I'm doing and a list of the things I will think consciously about purchasing after the hiatus ends.  Would you mind that?  Also, that third image is my eventual plan for my crafting space.  It's been my plan for two years.  

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Nitpicky English Major's Guide to Grammar: -ible or -able

At the request of my husband's grandmother--Gram, as she is best known, I am writing about a confusing little piece of spelling, one of those that's hard to discern by sound cues.  Lots of words end in -ible or -able, which sound almost identical in most American accents.  I decided to look it up for myself, since spelling is oddly natural to me (except when I try to write without putting in my contacts!) and I've never had a problem differentiating, even though I have no idea what the pattern or rule is when it comes to using -ible and -able.  So I ventured over to the online writing lab (OWL) at Purdue, which is one of the best resources you can possibly use for rules on writing and formatting, and discovered that the rule is astonishingly simple for any rule in the English language.  This is it: if the root word is a complete word that can stand on its own, use -able.  If not, use -ible.  For good measure, I'll give you a few examples.

Take the word "manageable."  You know you can write or say "manage" as a complete word, so "manageable" is correct.

However, "incredible" uses the -ible ending because "incred" is not a complete word; it must be attached to something else.  

The OWL has a few more examples, so you can take a look there.  

Happy writing!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

{an allergy friendly Easter centerpiece: yarn wrapped branches, an empty spaghetti sauce jar, kraft paper with hand drawn polka dots and gel pen writing, and tags from Eat Drink Chic (in black and white because I have no color ink at present).  more pictures and a tutorial to come next Friday.}

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Hello, Saturday Morning (and weekend links)

It's a rainy Saturday around here!  In the evening yesterday, a tornado was spotted less than three miles from us but thankfully did little damage and never came our (more thoroughly populated) way, and last night, it thundered and hailed for hours.  The next few days will be full of the same, so I'm looking at a lot of time indoors and wishing I'd brought my rain boots with me.  I hope the weather in your area is being a little nicer!

Rainy day

This week, I bookmarked this post on how to stock your pantry and plan to apply it when, you know, I have a pantry.  Another blogger linked to this article from Whole Living on the wabi sabi aesthetic/ethic.  I particularly like the method of applying wabi sabi principles in relationships; it would probably have a very positive impact in my life.  I discovered Pia Jane Bijkerk's blog just yesterday and I'm already in love with its style and feel--can you describe a webpage as feeling a certain way?  If you can, then hers has that same feeling you get when you walk in a historic building and everything is beautiful with age, classic style, and a little hint of glamor.
Easter is tomorrow and I don't know what we'll be doing, but I might have to decorate a few eggs, and I think I could make up dyes from stuff around my in-law's house if I follow the instructions here on naturally dyeing eggs.

Wabi Sabi, it never goes out of style.

Have a happy weekend and enjoy reading!

My husband's aunt is in the hospital this weekend and is still really sick, so would you keep her in your thoughts and prayers?  Hopefully she'll be home in a few days, but right now, the doctors don't know what's wrong.  

Friday, April 22, 2011

interruptions :: on Easter and resurrections

Spring is beautiful.  It's life springing up, putting my Land's End squall coat away, ballet flats instead of boots, preparing for the end of the term, and blooms that are beautiful despite their incredible ability to make me sniffle and sneeze.


Easter comes around at this time and I have a whole childhood stock of memories that the season reawakens.  I remember the first time I became aware of the magnitude of Good Friday.  I don't know what year it was, but I remember that it registered suddenly and clearly with me, even as a child, that this was a day defining to the Christian faith.  But it didn't really settle with me to overemphasize Good Friday, because while there was suffering and sorrow, that's not where the story ended.  If it had, it would be a tragedy and nothing more.  Easter and the resurrection, though, are where the story is strengthened and defined.  Life returns.

garden roses

I'm not one to avoid logic and embrace my faith unquestioningly; I've asked the questions, read the books, taken the classes, and looked at what we can even possibly know.  I always find myself back where I started, ultimately dependent on my experience of life and the world to know that this is real.  I don't expect everyone to agree or believe, but I think that, no matter what your faith or even a lack thereof, the return to life that is Easter is worth celebrating.  The concept of a resurrection and a return to life is beautiful.  It's the renewal of things, the promise that everything can be better.

on the windowsill

I call myself an optimist and I usually am such, but I do get mired in the humdrum of the day-to-day most of the time, and have to remind myself to look for joy and life.  Easter is all about that.  I'll celebrate the joy of life returning to what was once dead as long as I live, no matter what I believe.  Easter is all about hope.  How could I not embrace that?

The first image is a tulip in my mom's garden, the second is a bunch of roses from the bushes behind my parents' house, and the third is the dozen roses Cory gave me for our second dating anniversary.
Here's an interesting and semi-irrelevant fact gleaned from the dictionary: the word "Easter" has origins in dispute.  According to Bede, it derives from the name of a goddess associated with spring.  A more generally held view is that it derived from the Germanic "ostern" and "east," though these may have originally come from that spring goddess.  It's time to do a little more etymological research, no?  Also, this is the first time I've really spoken about faith on this blog and I do hope you don't mind.  It's not a subject I broach frequently--I believe more in living a good and positive life than being outspoken--but it's one that is important to me, especially around this holiday.  Oh my goodness, this is a long footnote.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

ventures into the blogosphere :: screenprinting tutorial at Lil Blue Boo

For at least the last year, I have wanted to try my hand at screenprinting.  I haven't had time to take a class and there's no way I'm going to try it in a completely carpeted rental, even if this kit at Urban Outfitters has been teasing me with its all-your-supplies-together-ness. There are a million tutorials available that tell you how to screeprint, but I've always found them incredibly confusing, even the ones that claim to be simple, except for this one from Lil Blue Boo.  The materials are simple enough that I can get them at any craft store, and the method doesn't require anything too complicated or expensive.  Guess what I'll be doing this summer?

Lil Blue Boo is the internet home of Ashley, maker extraordinaire.  She paints, sews, prints, operates a clothing and pattern store through her website, and still has time enough to post clear and helpful tutorials.  Right now, she's doing a series of posts called "What would YOU make?" that features a bunch of different bloggers.  She sent a bundle of the same fabric print to each of them--a darkish floral number--and asked them to create their own pieces from it.  All the different creations from the same fabric are so interesting, because they are so similar and yet each one is completely unique to its maker.  I really like the premise of the project.  It'd be fun to do with all sorts of materials--maybe a packet of different papers, or a notebook and a pen, or some other limited number of raw materials.

If you have some time, take a look at her other tutorials, and maybe you'll find one you'd like to try, too. 

Have a lovely day!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"The amen of nature is always a flower." -Emerson

I completely missed sending out Christmas cards, and while I know a lot of people don't bother with them, I still wanted to.  But at the time, I was working full time at the university and part time at the movie store and had very little time to design, create, and mail a whole bunch of cards.  So I'm sending them out for Easter instead, and this has the added plus of a timely note to family and friends that we're moving.  I'm having the worst time getting good pictures today, ones that actually capture the soft pastel color of the cards, but a couple of these still turned out to be shareable.  I used the leftover paper from my graduation announcements, some green card stock paper, and a stamp my mom gave me for my birthday.  I'm sending these to friends and relatives that live out of town and out of state--the people I hardly get to see.

I love the quotation on the stamp, as noted in my title: "The amen of nature is always a flower."  While I often found Emerson to be a bit on the pompous and irrational side, I can't deny that he has a gift with turning a good phrase, and the thought captured in this one is perfect for this season.  If "amen" is taken for its meaning of "let it be" in addition to its more religious connotations, then we can read this phrase to mean that nature says "let it be" with these beautiful, delicate things that spring to life from the smallest seed.  
It is beautiful, no?

P.S. I'm linking here, here, and here.  The buttons are on the right.  Click them to see more projects by other bloggers!

Just Read :: Hanna's Daughters, by Marianne Fredriksson

I should preface this review by noting that I'm a sucker for a good mother-daughter or intergenerational female relationship story.  Maybe it's because I come from a family where the women outnumber the men, or because my mom's family is close, both relationally and geographically.  I'm sure there's a psychological reason at play here, but I don't really care what it is.  I like mother-daughter stories, and Hanna's Daughters is no exception.

Marianne Fredriksson's novel is framed by Anna, the daughter of Johanna and granddaughter of Hanna.  Anna narrates a visit to her mother, who is in end-stage dementia and lives in a nursing home.  Anna spends the night at her parents' home, caring for her elderly father, and begins to look through old photographs late in the night.  She sees a photo of Hanna, and remembers the grandmother she knew but never understood.  The next portion of the novel tells Hanna's story, followed by a little narration from Anna, then Johanna's story, and finally Anna's story up until the point at which the novel opened.  Though the stories overlap, they are told independently of each other.

The novel is set in Sweden, with Hannah's story in the late 1800s, Johanna's in the early to mid 1900s, and Anna's narration sometime in the late twentieth century.  The women's lives intersect with border disputes between Sweden and Norway, the world wars, and the advent of the modern age.  Hanna retains her rural upbringing, superstitions and all, all the way to her death sometime in her nineties.  Johanna is politically involved, fighting for socialist democratic reform, and is thoroughly accustomed to the city.  Anna is able to remain in school, unlike her mother or grandmother, and teaches and writes.  Each woman struggles through relationships with husbands and sons, fighting to keep the good in their men alive and strong.  They are each betrayed and beloved by their men at different points.  As we follow the narrative, making discoveries about this family history, we are able to see what Anna, Johanna, and Hanna cannot--that they are all inseparably linked and startlingly similar.  What separates them is not so much their personalities but their upbringings in completely different settings.

The novel's only shortcoming, in my opinion, was an occasional confusion of the sequence of events and the narrative voice.  Perhaps this was intentional on Fredriksson's part, or perhaps the translation is at fault; I'm not sure.  A map of Sweden and the towns in which the novel is set, as well as a family tree, would have been helpful.  Ultimately, though, the story arcs through beautifully, and the framework of Anna's narration, in spite of being a literary structure common to the point of being cliche, works, because Anna is not just a narrator, but a character that we get to know and even love.

What's the verdict?  This book is a really good read.  I also enjoyed reading more about Swedish history and getting to know a bit more about a part of the world with which I'm not very familiar.  It's interesting, isn't it, that I can live in a completely different part of the world from these characters and even the author, yet still connect so much to the characters.  That, to me, exemplifies the strength of the writing and of the story.  If you read it, I think you'll feel the same way.

Hanna's Daughters is available for purchase here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

FOUND :: Nostalgic School Supplies

Growing up, I went school supply shopping in June, usually within a month of the end of school.  Sometimes I held out until July, but I usually didn't make it that long.  I was always more excited about entering the next grade of school than I was about having summer break.  My process for picking school supplies often involved several trips to Big Lots, where they had a steady supply of Lisa Frank everything, and Target, where I picked up my less vibrant items that the school required--a red folder for math, yellow for reading, etc.

In fourth grade, we had bigger desks, so we got to use binders.  I was so excited to purchase my first binder that I think I bought three before deciding which one would go in my desk.  In middle school, we didn't get our supply lists until two weeks before school started, and it drove me crazy.  I couldn't wait that long, I just couldn't!  So I shopped to outfit my locker in purple shelves and sparkly magnets.

In high school, I finally held out a little more, since we only got our supply lists on the first day of classes.  At that point, school was thoroughly routine, but I still stocked up on enough loose college ruled paper that I still have some left.

In truth, right now, I'm a little antsy to get back to school.  In August, when I plan to start, I'll breathe a huge sigh of relief.  I was excited to finish my coursework in three years and graduate in December, but I wasn't ready to be done with school, which is good, since I'll most likely be a student for at least another six years.  That means I get to keep stocking up on school supplies, right?

In short, I've always been a nerd about school (except in the time between spring break and the end of the year, but that's beside the point).  You can laugh at me now (I know my mom already was), so go ahead, but then take a look at all the vintage school supplies on Etsy.  I compiled a treasury last night that you can look at here, featuring the items in this post and more.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Nitpicky English Major's Guide to Grammar: Your or You're?

"Your" and "you're," like "it's" and "its," are easy to mix up.  They sound the same (unless you're a weird hybrid of northern/midwestern and southern accents like me and pronounce "your" like "yer") in conversation, so transferring them to the written word correctly can get them mixed up.  However, they are completely different in meaning.  "Your" is a possessive adjective, meaning that X belongs to you.  "You're" is a contraction of the pronoun "you" and the verb "are," and means "you are."

A quick substitution test (like with "it's") can be performed to determine which form to use.  

If you could replace "your/you're" with "you are" in a sentence, then "you're" is appropriate.  Here's an example, with the substituted words in bold.

After reading this post, you're going to know the difference between "your" and "you're."
After reading this post, you are going to know the difference between "your" and "you're."

If "your/you're" cannot be replaced with "you are," then "your" is the correct form.  You can see the difference in this example, again with the substituted words in bold.

After reading this post, you will check your spelling.
After reading this post, you will check you are spelling.

Does it make sense?  No, you can see that it doesn't.  It would sound strange to say it out loud.  In this context, the spelling belongs to you--it is yours.  

Now, wasn't that easy?

By the way, "ur" is never an acceptable form of "your" or "you're," except maybe sometimes in texting when brevity is usually of greater importance (though I always spell words out).  I actually have seen it in an academic paper that was submitted for a grade.  Needless to say, the student lost points.  The way you write on twitter, facebook, or in text messages is definitely not how you want to write for something that gets graded or that will be circulated in the workplace.  

Well, this is going up a little later in the day than I meant, but I've been busy working and getting some photographs of my little town before we leave in twenty-six days, not that I'm counting.  But hey, you'd count down, too, if you knew that you would be moving from a town with no bookstores to a city with at least ten, wouldn't you?  Today my boss asked me how I am about grammar and proofreading before I looked over some documents.  I laughed and said that I'm nitpicky. 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

hello, Saturday Morning (and weekend links)

{I'm hoping to see the sun today.}

I was meandering around Jill Bliss' blog and found this article that's gotten me thinking about how environmental ethics intersect with social ethics (conclusion: they intersect constantly).  Apparently, I was on a bit of a sociological studying kick last week, because I bookmarked this article about feminism and domesticity which, in spite of being written almost seven years ago, is still enormously relevant to the arts and crafts movement that I'm always reading and writing about.  As someone who lives in a small town and not far from a semi-abandoned building, I was drawn to this article filled with images of buildings "from a different era" that are on the edge of decay. The words and images on this blog are both beautiful and inspirational.  Take a look.  You'll like them.

Friday, April 15, 2011

interruptions :: musings of the stylishly inept

Sometimes I can manage to put things together and look good.  Yesterday, I even matched.  Back in high school, Kat and Kay used to just about gasp in amazement when I came to school in a matching outfit, and we wore uniforms.  I try.  I really do.  I've gotten better recently, but I still feel like something is remiss most of the time when I try to put an outfit together.  I wonder where enormously stylish people, like Annabel of Blushing Ambition or Taylor of The Little Deer, get the ability to recognize what looks good and what doesn't, and to put it all together.  Half of my problem is that I'm always cold, so I'm inclined to wearing multiple layers.  This picture captures one of my worst moments of layer wearing, and I'm only sharing a tiny little part of it because it's not a good picture of me at all.

I'm not only mixing sweaters, but mixing black and brown.  I was cold, okay?
I think, sometimes, when I write about all the lovely things I find in the world, or post gorgeous outfits on my style pinboard, I may come across as fashionable.  True, I own skinny jeans (okay, three pairs of slim-fitting jeans, not actual skinny jeans, but shush).  I have a pair of Toms that I could wear constantly.  Today, I'm  even wearing a brown sweater that matches the brown in my top, and I'm not wearing black shoes.  

The truth is, though, I don't really care.  I'd rather be comfortable, like I am right now.  I never wear heels because flats are comfortable and they suit me.  I also have this tendency to dislike clothes that call attention, because I generally don't like to call attention to myself in any way, and I wonder if that plays into my lack of serious interest in fashion.  Perhaps I don't dress incredibly cute not because I'm kind of cheap (hey, I like saving my money!) but because I'm content with a plain wardrobe that doesn't draw attention.  Sometimes I think the psychology of wardrobe choices could be explored to very interesting extents.

I've had my wardrobe on my mind lately because I packed up a good bit of it last weekend in preparation for our move (one month away!) and realized that I actually just want to pitch most of it.  It's not that I don't like any of it, but rather that I would kind of like to start from scratch.  I'm thinking that I might actually do so this summer, but I want to make sure that when I get rid of things, they go somewhere that won't end up in a landfill.  Because if I do start a major purge, there will be a lot of things that go.  I got rid of over half my clothes a year ago and I don't miss a thing that I gave away.

This post is scattered, I know, like my wardrobe, and I'm a little sorry for that.  I've been interrupted about five times since I started writing it (an hour ago), so hopefully my scatterbrained ways haven't confounded you too much today.  My goodness, this post is full of fluff.

I can occasionally put together a pretty decent outfit, and my skills with virtually coordinating a combination are much better than my practical real-world talents.  I even managed to pull these two outfits together in a fairly short time.  Kaboodle is kind of fun, just so you know.

I'm linking up with long distance loving's Friday Fancies, where you'll find a bunch of stylish bloggers posting adorable outfits.  Maybe I should look around and learn a thing or two about matching.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Ventures into the Blogosphere :: my blogging friends

I'm not the only one in my circle of friends that casts my voice out into the great big internet.  A couple of my friends and acquaintances have things to say and recipes to share, so I'm sending you their way today. 

Beth has been my friend since we were Girl Scouts in third grade and both new to our school and the state of Kentucky.  She posts ridiculously delicious looking recipes like this chicken satay.

Daring Cooks:Chicken Satay

Amy and I went to college together for a few years (before I pretty much picked up and ran for a state school, but other people liked and stayed at Asbury).  She also posts good recipes, most of which are pretty healthy.  This key lime pie may not qualify as healthy, but I'd still like to learn how to make it, and I'd really love to eat some.  She says it's easy, so maybe I'll try it, even if it would mean yet another trip to the grocery store. 

key lime pie

I'm feeling really hungry right now, so we're going to turn from my food-blogging friends to my cousin's blog, where she writes about daily life in her beautiful personal style.  Jamie and I live far apart and only see each other once a year, maybe twice at most, so keeping up with her life and the life of her five sisters and aunt and uncle has gotten so much easier since she started blogging!  You hear that, Jamie?  Keep writing!


Oh, and if you're in need of a laugh, take a peek at this hilarity.  Just make sure you watch this video, too, as long as you're in a place where you can laugh out loud--very loudly--without disturbing the peace. 

Today's images were found about on flickr, not on my friends' blogs.  The PC in the lab I'm in isn't being very nice about letting me share photos, so copying and pasting the code worked a lot better than uploading. Maybe this computer knows I'd rather be on my macbook, old and a little weak though it may be.  Who decided that four year old computers are old, anyway?  Mine still works and I'm going to use it until it falls apart, or until the internet quits functioning, whichever comes first.  I also published this post without proofreading it and just caught myself using the wrong there/they're/their.  Oh dear, I really do need a new contact prescription. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Just Read :: Julie and Julia, by Julie Powell

You'll get hungry (a year of French cooking includes desserts).  You'll get a little nauseous (deboning is not for the fainthearted).  You'll laugh out loud.  If you're a Republican, you'll probably get at least a little offended (but that's all I'm saying about her politics, and I'm not even approaching mine).  If you're a Democrat, you might still get offended.  Julie and Julia is not for the easily offended, but somehow it's a bestseller.  I guess I got into the trend late, but that's really just because I'm rather cheap about buying books (in spite of how much I love them) and it's only recently been marked down below ten dollars.

Julie and Julia is built on a paradoxical tenet: one year's worth of gourmet food is prepared in a kitchen in a cheap loft apartment in Long Island City by an untrained cook (who happens to be incredibly skilled in cooking).  They eat Domino's pizza when the meals go awry.  Julie Powell loves and hates the meals she creates.  Her metaphors are humorous and at times scandalous, and the connotations of every meal are discussed, mulled over, and often become remarkably amusing.

This is no great literary breakthrough, I realize, and a bit more chick lit than I usually go for, but it was entirely fun to read.  Besides, after three years as an English major and before six to eight years as a graduate English graduate student, I think a fun read is entirely permissible.

Available for purchase here.

making nice with my sewing machine

My sewing machine and I squabble sometimes, but it's never Janome's fault that many patterns are sized for girls with rectangular bodies (when you find one, let her know I've made a skirt that should fit her) and that I never measure twice and cut once.
But sometimes I make friends with Janome again, and we work out our differences and make pretty things.  I've learned it's best if I stick with plain shapes, like rectangles, squares, and the occasional buttonhole.  This time, though, I managed some gussets, of which I'm quite proud.  I'd write you a tutorial if I had made it in a way that was logical and could be recreated, but any directions I give you are liable to get your sleeve sewn to your bag (almost happened) and leave you ripping out seams every fifteen minutes (did happen).  Instead, I'm sharing only the finished product, with adjustable straps inspired by this tutorial spotted on pinterest and a little bit of pattern mixing.

{straps button on at two different lengths}

{fully lined}

{altogether+overstuffed bookshelf}

I've gotten a lot of blurry shots lately.  I think I need to get a tripod.  I really want a DSLR camera and a class on using it well, but that doesn't seem likely to happen in the near future.  Still, if I find a great price on at least the camera, well, I'll figure out the class.  In the meantime, I'll keep waiting and hoping for sunny days, which are getting more common now that winter's over.

It's a whatever Wednesday on Momma Hen's Coop, so there's a button in this post.  You should look at this table she rescued and prettified with paint.  It's also a plus that she's from Kentucky.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

FOUND :: Old New Again, on Etsy

Okay, if you know me, you probably know that I've lived in Kentucky for twelve years now, a slight majority of my life, but I'm still definitely, totally, and surely a Wisconsin native.  So when I find things from my home state, I get a little bit like that annoying kid saying "pick me! pick me!" every time the teacher asks a question--I stick my nose in the middle of things and say "Hey, I'm from there, too!"
I'm definitely going to be that kid right now and brag on these folks up in my home state who create some pretty fantastic upcycled goods in the hometown of the great and beloved Green Bay Packers.

They have Wisconsin in turquoise wood.

They also have Kentucky in slate.

If you're not looking for state-shaped wall hooks, Old New Again has a number of other wooden shabby chic items for your home, like this welcome sign.

I must agree with the imperative statement on this sign.

Every piece of wood is hand-picked, so even though their prices are a little higher than other sources, their pieces are carefully made with great quality.  Old New Again is "a husband and wife team supporting [their] family with [their] goods," which impresses me even more.  Their shop is gorgeous and you really should take a look.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Nitpicky English Major's Guide to Grammar: Where's my preposition at?

It's been a long-held tradition, often used as a determinant of a person's skill with language, that you cannot end a sentence with a preposition. 
However, it's rather difficult to construct many kinds of questions without ending in a preposition, as evidenced by these examples.

How does this fit in?
What page does this go on?
Where do we go out?

Many a grammar snob (which I guess I am) turns up his or her nose at these constructions, but then turns right around and uses them.  Yet these constructions are actually correct.  They are not always the best, but they are correct, with one stipulation: they are not appropriate for formal (typically academic) writing. 

The Scribner Handbook for Writers notes that prepositions, as their name indicates, are meant to be placed before their objects, "the noun or pronoun it connects with another part of the sentence."  They usually initiate a prepositional phrase, which (you may remember from a few weeks ago) must be followed by a comma.

So don't you worry too much about using those prepositions at the end of a phrase.  They are okay!  Of course, you should watch for unnecessary prepositions, like the one in my title.  "Where's my preposition?" covers all the meaning necessary.  "At" is not needed, because I've already asked where the preposition is.  The Scribner Handbook for Writers offers another example of unneccessary prepositions:

"We met up with the director at noon." 

This sentence could simply be said like this:

"We met the director at noon."

If you're trying to reach a word requirement for a paper, you could leave in the "up with," but if you're trying to be clear and concise, you don't need them.  Now, I'm generally predisposed to over-wordiness, so I'm not one to talk about being concise, but in my experience, teachers and professors seem to like it.  I'd recommend the shorter sentence in formal writing, but otherwise, I think you could let it go.

Today's Source: DiYanni, Robert, and Pat C. Hoy II. The Scribner Handbook for Writers. Pearson Longman: New York. Fourth Edition. 2004.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Hello, Saturday Morning (and weekend links)

Now that college basketball is over, we need something new on our door, and I'm liking this wreath by Gina of Temporary Nest that I spotted on KT's Refinishing School.  I've been reading Aimee's posts about life as a newlywed (she and her husband married about six months before C and I did).  Yesterday, I discovered that one of my oldest and dearest friends has been blogging about some seriously delicious food.  I want to make pumpkin cake and chocolate meringues.  I'm also slightly obsessed with this Australian magazine's website and want to try about a million DIY projects right now (like, right this second), like creating a stacked storage unit.  I just need a home to decorate--or, rather, a home we won't be moving out of in five weeks.  But hey, I'm ready for that move.  Now I just need to track down a bunch of boxes (without buying any) and figure out what to pack first, and how on earth we'll store things until we decide where to live.
In the meantime, I'm reading Hanna's Daughters and trying to get all my application materials submitted for graduate school.
Have a happy weekend!

Katie, cream and brown
{"Katie" print fabric, also by Ambatalia, who sells textiles here

Friday, April 8, 2011

spring sprung

I wonder if these beauties are blooming yet?

garden roses

I sketched them a bit here and entered it in the Design*Sponge giveaway this week, which has got me taking pen(cil) to paper today.  I'm being brave and sharing, even though I'm no artist.

I don't expect to win, but I do expect to pull out a gift card and buy Jill Bliss' drawing nature journal.  I'd love to fill it to bursting, wouldn't you?

interruptions :: wanderlusting; or, remembering where I've been and wanting to go somewhere new

It's been awhile since I traveled.  My husband and I went to Sanibel Island for our honeymoon almost a year ago (crazy!), and we were in Wisconsin for a reception with family and friends who couldn't travel to our wedding a week after that, but otherwise, our travel has only been between our hometowns and our current residence.  In my high school and college years, I traveled a lot--not the exotic vacation type of trips, but adventures with my family in the US and going across the Atlantic with my church.  I've been at English immersion youth camps in Poland and Romania and traveled with local churches doing some aid work in Kenya.  But the last time I travelled somewhere overseas was in 2007, and the last time I traveled somewhere completely new was in 2009.  I'm getting the itch to board a plane and see a place I've never been, but I don't have time or resources.  For now, I guess I'll soothe the itch with prolific pinning and meandering through my photos--and wishing I'd brought my scrapbooks with me from my parents' house.

Fagaras Mountains and Balea Lake, Romania 

Bucharest, Romania, 2006

Braila, Romania, 2006

Braila, Romania, 2006

the camp-Fagaras Mountains, Romania, 2006
(the plumbing in the building wasn't set up, so this was where we bathed, and it was icy cold)

the camp-Fagaras Mountains, Romania, 2006

Fagaras Mountains, Romania, 2006

view from the road, Kenya, 2007

Grand Canyon, Arizona, 2008

Sedona, Arizona, 2008

Sanibel, Florida, 2010
Sanibel, Florida, 2010

Iron Ridge, Wisconsin, 2010