Thursday, June 30, 2011

June, lately

Instead of searching for a home without knowing where we want to live and what we want in a house (and for how much money), my husband and I decided to store half our stuff and move the rest into the walk-out basement apartment at my grandparent's house.


Although we ended up here as a matter of necessity on our part, it has been a blessing to us and my grandparents both.  You see, just a little over two years ago, my grandfather was in a horrible car accident, a mix-up that occurred in early morning hours when visibility is poor.  His Subaru's side airbags saved his life, but his legs were badly injured.  His right leg healed; the fractures were minimal, though the bruising was significant.  His left leg, though, was crushed.  Over two years' worth of doctor's visits, hospitalizations, surgeries, and loads of stress, they tried to get the bone to heal in his left leg.  However, after a particularly frightening infection recently, they decided that an amputation was the best choice.  He's going to regain mobility and finally be able to heal completely.  The surgery went well and he'll be in rehab within a week.  


Cory and I are here at just the right time; my grandmother needs the extra hands around the house and my husband needs a quiet place to study.  We needed a place to live while we look for a more permanent home and wait for jobs and school to start.  


This is how we ended up here, in this home.  

I love that our need for a home directly compliments Oma and Papa's need for companionship and assistance in their house, and that the members of our family are able to care for each other this way.

I also don't mind finally having a beautiful yard to look out on and occasionally walk through.  The garden is gorgeous enough that even my shaky camera skills can look pretty awesome.  Thanks for all of your encouragement and positivity yesterday, and thank you Kimbirdy for the shout-out on your blog!  You truly made my day!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

major

This week is a big one for my family and me.

Sometimes, usually on the days that I forget that I'm an adult (almost every day, actually), I am struck by how major and how impacting things can be.

This week has two big things going on: my grandfather will have a major surgery tomorrow and my husband will take the first part of his CPA exam on Saturday.  They're two very different events.  The first will hopefully restore a level of equilibrium to the life of my grandparents.  The second comes at the beginning of a career and is the start of a journey.

This morning, I realized that each will only take a matter of hours to occur, in spite of months of preparation, hard work, and a good dose of worry.

Source: vandavintage.tumblr.com via Vanda on Pinterest


We're all nervously waiting with some anxious and some excited anticipation right now, hoping for the very best and keeping our finger crossed and our prayers constant.  


You might not hear from me until the end of the week.  I have a few babysitting jobs and a few extra things to do at home.  I'll try to stop in and say hello, though!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday's Fancies: a Summer Sunday Wedding

My friend is getting married on Sunday and I'm pretty crazy excited for her and only a little less excited about wearing a great dress.  I already have an outfit figured out (mostly), but that doesn't mean I can't imagine what I'd wear if I could go on a little spree and pick anything.

I always feel good when I wear blue and should wear it more often, so this chambray dress is perfect, especially because it's casual enough for the afternoon and a little bit dressy when paired with metallic accessories.  I possess an amazing ability to get cold even in supposedly warm places, so a shrug is a must. This one's pretty and won't hide my dress and I really wish I could afford it.  I'll probably put my hair up, so I think I'm going to try to recreate this braided chiffon headband today, since my last project went so well.

summer sunday wedding


Tibi ruched dress, £255
Alice Olivia sequin shrug, £380
Forever21 strappy sandals, $18
White House Black Market clutch handbag, $25
Navaglazer chain necklace, $119
Mimco crystal earrings, £28
Jane Norman headbands hair accessory, £10


Want to play Friday's Fancies, too?  Visit AV at Long Distance Loving and join in!


Megan, if you read this, congratulations!





another DIY :: five minute headband

Sometimes I browse Pinterest for ages, searching for inspiration and then discovering that I've used up all of my free time looking through all of the great things posted over there.  But last night, I decided to go ahead and just make one of the quick projects I spotted.

The project is by Kelli of Presser Foot and this picture is the one that caught my eye.


Here's my completed project.  It really did take five minutes.  My only recommendation is that you could use less than a yard for each piece of rope (or yarn, in my case).  I cut off about ten inches' worth from the ends once I'd sewn them together.  But it's better to have a little extra than not enough, I suppose.  I also finished the ends a little differently--I wrapped the fabric around the yarn.  


I like the results, and it's a headband that actually fits me.  I love headbands but don't often buy them because they are usually too small and give me a headache, so making one is my usual solution.  This project is just as easy and a little more interesting than the fabric bands I usually make.  Get off the computer now and try it!


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

DIY :: recycled feedbag backpack

I decided to make a backpack myself instead of buying a new one.
Thankfully, it turned out well.  With the lining, it feels durable enough to carry my books and laptop, and the size is just right--big enough for a decent amount of stuff and small enough that it doesn't feel ridiculous.  I sprayed it with scotchguard for a little extra protection and I think it's just right now.



You can make one, too.  You just need to know how to do a few things: sew a relatively straight line, sew a buttonhole (or have a machine that does it for you), stitch in the ditch, and attach a button.  For supplies, you need an old feedbag (or any large-ish sack, or just make one yourself from any fabric), a strong material for straps, buttons, and any embellishments you'd like.

Here's the basic outline of the construction of the bag.  Photos of the process, along with the descriptions of each step, can be found here.


{the images should get bigger when you click them}

It's been awhile since I joined a link party for DIY, so I popped over to Momma Hen's Coop and linked up with her Whatever Wednesday series.  It's always a good way to find a few DIY posts!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

happy...

...father's day, birthday, and birthday and...everything.
My family has over half of our birthdays and general celebrations in a one-month span.  It starts with mother's day and is followed any graduations, my cousin's birthday, Cory's birthday, our anniversary, my parents' anniversary, my sister's birthday, father's day, Oma's birthday, Oma and Papa's anniversary, and my dad's birthday.  This year, father's day was Sunday, Oma's birthday was Monday, and the anniversary as well as my dad's birthday are today.



So instead of saying "happy birthday" or anything, I'm just saying happy.  Be happy today and smile.  It's officially summer and that's always something to smile about.

{So Very Happy print by dazeychic on Etsy}

I've been busy the last few days (as you see above, plus I babysat all day yesterday), but I have almost finished the backpack I was making and I will post the tutorial as soon as it's done!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday's Fancies: summer sweetness

summer sweetness


Emily and Fin olive dress, $89
Miss Sixty closed toe heels, $119
Dazed Dorothy vintage leather handbag, £120
Forever21 chain jewelry, $4.80
Earrings
Necklace, $8



I don't actually have anything particularly useful to do this weekend, except review a little bit of French and practice some conversation with my grandmother so that I'm ready for the oral interview on Wednesday.  So I'm not just imagining that I can go out and buy myself a whole new outfit, but I'm also imagining I'd have some place to wear it (though it would be perfect for a friend's wedding next weekend...).  I just finished A Vintage Affair, a fun and purely indulgent quick read, and it's left me wanting a pretty vintage dress rather badly.  If I could get this pretty blue one (that has already sold, alas), it'd be quite perfect for anything during the summer and cute with leggings or tights and my brown boots in the winter.  


Have a lovely weekend, everyone, and don't forget to give your dad a great big hug (real or imagined) on Sunday!  


You can see other bloggers' outfits or link your own for AV's Friday's Fancies series here.  My set this week turned out surprisingly affordable, except for that handbag and those shoes...and the dress is a little out of reach, too.  Okay, so the jewelry for my set turned out pretty affordable.  That's better.



Thursday, June 16, 2011

Just Read :: The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery



I suppose I'm late to the party in celebrating The Elegance of the Hedgehog (it's been published in English for three years now).  I first heard about it on The English Muse (one of my favorite places to look for a good book) and I've been meaning to read it ever since I first came across a copy at Joseph-Beth in Lexington.  Yet in spite of my serious love for books, I have a hard time spending fifteen dollars on a paperback, even one that's as sweetly put together as this one.  So I was a bit delighted to find a copy at the library last week, and I am happy to say that the novel did not disappoint.  Its format is not too terribly innovative, but it effectively creates a narrative with just enough change and movement to engage the reader, even though the novel contains only a few actual events.  It's character driven, like nearly everything I read, and the best word I can think of to capture the emotion of the entire tale is calm.  There is little in the way of events, as I've noted, and even the twist that comes at the end is surprisingly relaxed.  That said, I was a bit shocked, yet I can't imagine that the novel could have ended any other way and still been so terribly effective.

I'll spare you a reiteration of the plot, since you can find it here.  But I will tell you what captured my attention.  Firstly, RenĂ©e, one of the two narrator-protagonists, is terrific.  Her quick diagnosis of the ways that an additional comma can be either disastrous or disarming will charm the heart of anyone who is nutty for grammar.  Her calm but nonetheless passionate love for Anna Karenina and the works of Tolstoy--she has a cat named Leo--brings back the memories I have of reading through that novel (a story I will absolutely have to write sometime, because it's terribly funny).

But Paloma, the other narrator-protagonist, is hardly less lovable.  She is twelve and aware of the frustration and bother of growing up in a way that is rather advanced for her age (how often does a twenty-something find that they empathize quite thoroughly with a twelve-year-old?*).  Determined not to end up a half-human whose life is dictated by social mores and impossible personal expectations, she resigns herself to death on her thirteenth birthday and observes the world as if she will only be in it a short time.  Of course, she is not entirely serious in her intent to die, but she is quite serious and adept in her observations of her small world, and she will charm you, I promise.

I just finished the book an hour ago and I was itching to write about it immediately--it's one of those sorts of books that leaves you feeling full of creativity and makes you want to hunt for beauty.  I also think it expertly communicated an understanding--or as close as you can get, anyway--of the sublime that my literary theory professor used to try to explain to no avail (but then, he was just as obsessed with psychoanalysis as Paloma's mother, and perhaps that was his fault).  In Paloma's words, you can see and understand its essence, as I understand it: "...beauty consists of its own passing, just as we reach for it.  It's the ephemeral configuration of things in the moment, when you can see both their beauty and their death" (272).

It's haunting, is it not, to think that the greatest beauty exists in that moment that it is passing, but could it be as beautiful if we could always capture it?  I would say no, but that does not mean that life cannot have beauty and lots of it.  It just means that we must love it every time it comes and create it when we can, because death, trouble, and ugliness try to stamp it out, and we must continually search for and recreate it so that beauty endures.

Have you read anything great lately?

*I feel I should add that I empathize with the frustration she has with growing up and her deep wish to avoid a half-life, not her mildly obnoxious family members or her (slightly juvenile and definitely not serious) desire to die before facing adulthood.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

not so nerve-racking

I have probably written this before, but I have this silly habit of thinking about what I will wear and carry to something when I'm nervous about going there.  This includes school.
In the middle of thinking about how I'll present myself in classes, I realized that I've been carrying the same gray and pink backpack since early in high school.  It's a good bag, a ten dollar purchase at target six or so years ago that accompanied me on trips across the country and across the atlantic on multiple occasions, and has gone with me to three different colleges in four years (plus that extra class I took at the school I used to work for).  But I feel like I need something new and maybe a little more grown-up (just maybe on the grown-up part).  So I went hunting on Etsy and other sites.

This is dangerous, friends.

I made a board of ideas and I'm just barely resisting the impulse to purchase that sunny yellow bag...



Thankfully for my wallet, I have nearly everything I need to make my own bag back at home--a yard of dark brown wool, vintage cotton feed bags, and a bit of determination.  I've made a good (small) backpack before as a gift and think I can do it again.  I just need to remember where that dark brown wool ended up being packed...

If you click on the picture, you can find out where each bag is from.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

so sweet

I might be just a little blip in the blogosphere, but even I have experienced the genuine kindness and friendliness that other bloggers seem so intent on sharing.  Thank you for offering ideas or for simply commiserating with me.  Yesterday's post was a little more personally emotional than I tend to be online and I was more than a little nervous about putting my worries and dreams out there for others to see.

Words of wisdom

In the midst of my frustration and indecision yesterday, Cory suggested a trip to the library during one of his study breaks.  So I went on a hunt for some written advice and came across a little book called Careers for Book Lovers.  Now, the cover was horribly designed and most of the advice was outdated, but it was somehow still full of ideas for people who, like me, can't seem to care about studying anything besides the written word.  I realized that I have options for careers when I graduate--choices besides teaching college students (which is in fact what I want to do, but the job market is tiny)--and then I remembered some advice I once gave a student worker in my old office.

You have to chase after what you want to do based on your interests and passions.  If you chase after a career just because the jobs are expected to be around when you're done with school or training, you might make some money for awhile, but even that is not certain.  A job that exists and is paid well right now may not be there in a few years or even a few months, and even if it is, there is no guarantee that it'll be there for the rest of your working life.  Do what you want to do with your life, because any career will have times of success and times of failure; in those times of failure, you may as well be doing something you enjoy.

Source: google.com via sarah on Pinterest


I think I also added that you should be smart and careful with your money along the way, and avoid going into debt to finance those dreams if at all possible.  Dreams can be a little practical, can't they?

With all of that said, I'm going to plan out my classes for the fall, and take a few literature courses and try to get in to a sociolinguistics class that's full (and ignore the fact that blogger says I misspelled sociolinguistics).
Images link back to their sources.

Monday, June 13, 2011

interruptions: between the dreaming and the coming true

I'm going to do a double post today, because I wasn't done saying what I had to say, but it seems to exist in two parts in my head.  Also, you might get bored, because this post is a mildly narcissistic one bemoaning the difficulty of translating my area of interest into a job.




I hear a lot about seeking out your passion, being yourself, chasing your dreams, even when they seem impossible.  I think that is all good; I often repeat it myself.  But sometimes life and dreams and practicality and desire all collide.  Sometimes the different dreams you have for your life conflict with each other.

Although I know earning a terminal degree in a humanities field (for me, eventually a Ph.D. in English) is difficult, I have also been discovering more than ever that it's impractical.  Over half of all Ph.D. in English graduates cannot find a job in their field, and those who do often have to move.  I would like to have that advanced degree attached to my name (Dr. Snyder!) and, far more than that, I would like to be so thoroughly immersed in study and research that I earn that degree.  Yet I'm debating the merits of the decision I will eventually make. 

Is this a dream that I should pursue, or is it one of those dreams that should be set aside in order to pursue other dreams?  Besides, when I get to the point that I've achieved this dream, will the reality be anything like what I imagine?  I do not want to spend years and money chasing a wisp of a dream that doesn't exist. 

{via weheartit}
I don't have to decide today, of course, and I know I want to pursue the MA in English--I was definitely not done with my studies in the subject when I graduated in December.  But being admitted to the MA program has me pondering the next step and exactly what I should do now in order to get there, even if I have two years to decide (and that's assuming I finish my MA in two years).  For those of you who are a little older and hopefully wiser than me, how did you decide what to do when you finished your undergraduate degree?  

Post title credit goes back to this Bebo Norman cd I had in high school.  He's the only Christian musician I ever listen to anymore; I still love the poetry of his songs, especially this one from another cd.

deciding

I'm notoriously indecisive.  Ask me a yes or no question and I will almost always say maybe.




I have to make some decisions right now, though, and this is a problem.  These are my options: literature, creative writing, rhetoric and composition, or linguistics.  I will take three to five courses in one of these areas in addition to the five core classes in literature and critical theory.  I think I want to blend studies in linguistics with the emphasis in literature.  So the next step is to choose classes.  This step is driving me crazy.  The classes I was most interested in are full, since registration for current students opened in the early spring.  If these classes were open or if I knew for sure that the instructors would let me in to the full courses, I would know at least three course that I definitely want to take.  But as it is, I know two classes I need to take and I need to choose two more.




I can't make up my mind.  I want to take classes in everything.

Photos link back to their sources.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

how I wear my stripes

In addition to an apparent love for gray and yellow (which I again almost wore today.  But then I realized that my shirt would need ironing, which I hate, so I wore blue instead), I have a thing for stripes.  I blame Design*Sponge, even if the stripes featured there are generally for interiors and not wearing.  I went a long time (years) without wearing stripes because I felt like they hit my hips rather oddly, but I don't think anyone can hang out in the blogosphere for long without feeling the need to don some stripes.  Since joining in the trend, I've found stripes to be more flattering than I expected and an easy way to feel cute.  There's something terrifically chic and hopefully not too preppy about them, wouldn't you say?

French Essentials.
{by Clare Owen Illustration, via her Flickr}

When I cleaned out my closet last week, I found a few striped tops I really like, and so I just had to join in the Stripe Mania hosted by Holly Becker of Decor8.

{me, pre-haircut on a windy day}

I've been wearing this tee a lot lately (probably three times in the last two weeks)--it's easy to match, with the subtle gray and white stripe.  I have it in black and gray as well.  When I find something I know I can wear easily, I tend to buy two of it in different colors.  It helps me with that whole matching thing.  Does anyone else do that?

Click on the words "Stripe Mania" above the picture to find out how to join in the fun.  Tomorrow is the last day!

Friday, June 10, 2011

have a delightful weekend

Today was sweet.  Few things are as endearing as a six-year-old who wants to know if you can come play tomorrow even if you're not babysitting.  It's good to be able to help your grandparents with all sorts of little things when they are extending the kindness of a home in their basement apartment.  It is fulfilling to be both wanted and needed and be capable of meeting both, is it not?


I'm off to watch a movie with the family, then get some rest and reading in during the next two days.  I helped Oma clean off the patio on Monday so we can sit in the shade and hope for enough coolness to enjoy a book outside.  Doesn't that sound perfect?

Have a lovely weekend, won't you?

Some time in the sun with a book sounds lovely.  If only it was not so terribly hot!  This image seems to be from here.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

the fair

I'm a horrible craft lover and blogger.  This is the first art and craft fair I've been to in almost two years.  I think that might be some sort of sin for a handmade lover like myself.  Be nice, though, because I've been living a good forty minutes from even I-65 for most of the last year.

Before going to this fair, I didn't know just how lively and fun the handmade arts community in my state actually is.  I mean, I've been to the famous (or infamous, if you live or go to school anywhere near it) St. James Art Fair, but this was a more approachable and locally based fair.  There were makers of all different ages--an elderly gentleman who has been shaping wood into beautiful objects for decades wasn't too far from a natural body and home care maker and her two preteen girls who were selling homemade lip balm to raise money to support a friend back at the children's home from which they were adopted years ago.

{rose pins, made from recycled cashmere sweaters}

{wall vases}




The Arts on the Green Fair takes place on the courtyard square in La Grange, a small town about twenty minutes out of Louisville.  Most of the makers were from Kentucky or nearby Indiana towns.  I made a few small acquisitions--some wooden buttons, crochet-covered hair clips, and a little container of homemade lip balm.

{from my phone. sorry.}

The girls selling the lip balm just found out that the friend they've been supporting was adopted and will be in the states soon, not long before she would have been too old to remain in the children's home.  I was so happy to hear that.  How cool is it that all this time and effort they've put in to helping their friend has helped care for her in the time before she has a permanent home?  And how impressive is it that they're not even teens yet?

I've linked up makers' websites if they exist.  I'm trying to find out more about the makers who didn't list a site.  I would love to do a series of posts on the local handmade scene, if I can learn more about it.  

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I do still read the printed word.

I'm very attached to books.  They're enchanting and feel good in your hands.  Stacks and shelves of them can make a room your own.

{source unknown; found on weheartit}

Unfortunately, they are also heavy, as the dear friends who helped Cory and me move last month discovered, although I was nice enough to transport some of my books before the actual move, so there were only two smaller boxes full.

{source unknown}

Because of the heft of a bag full of books, I've been thinking about purchasing a reader of some sort, and if I do, I'll have to find myself an adorable case, of course.  If I'm going to tote around something that doesn't have quite the same aesthetic pleasure as an actual paperback, I should at least make it a little prettier.

IMG_3242

I'd like to find one that would allow me to read all those journals that I'll be diving into for the next two years without having to print them off--does an ereader with the ability to open and view pdf files exist?  I could never abandon real paper books, heavy though they may be, but a reader could be enormously helpful as I earn an MA in English, especially because a lot of older works (like the ones I'll be reading for a couple interesting-looking classes) are public domain and available for free.

I haven't yet figured out how I'll like reading books on a screen, though.

I encountered a whole lot of uncredited images while looking for pictures to use today and picked my favorites.  If you have any idea where they came from, could you tell me?  

Monday, June 6, 2011

gray and yellow

I have an obsession gray and yellow.
You can see what I'm wearing.

I'm planning out a knit and embroidered blanket in yarns in these shades.

Gray + Yellow

And I have an entire Pinterest board devoted to the combo.  Throw in a little bit of cream, an sprinkle of robin's egg blue, and the occasional chocolate brown and/or military green, and I think you'll get my favorite colors.  

I took on my clothes.  I won.  It's done.  I just need to track down a sweet little black dress and a pair of slim (I hate saying skinny) jeans.  I mean, there are other things, sure, but those are the two things that will fill it out nicely.  Oh, and a little silver or gray and/or metallic shrug would be great to have, that way I can keep my always-cold self warm yet stylish when I wear that little black dress.
That's the plan, anyway. 
I'm not shopping for anything else unless I find a nice little sweater.

I hit a craft fair this weekend and it was surprisingly great!  I'll upload the pictures on Wednesday.  I'm taking off the internet tomorrow because the man is taking a day off of studying!  Hooray!  Are there enough exclamation marks here?  

Thursday, June 2, 2011

um.

I don't know how to start saying this, but here goes: the majority of books I've read in the past few weeks have had Oprah's book club stickers on the front.




I didn't do it on purpose.  It just happened.  I haven't decided how I feel about it, either.  I mean, I'm basically indifferent when it comes to Oprah (though I thought she was fantastic in Beloved), but I feel a little weird about this, like I've sold out on great literature in favor of what's popular.  If that were true, though, wouldn't I be indulging on cheap romance novels instead of thought-provoking, artful works?




I'm going to just say that it's because Oprah's team of book selectors must be thoughtful folks who look for books that bridge the gap between intelligent/scholarly and approachable, and clearly I have excellent taste as well.




Right?

Hey, they were good books!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

wardrobe revamp: making plans

Back in high school, maybe even in middle school, I noticed a tendency in my own habits: when I am nervous about a new phase in life or a new place to go--generally, from middle to high school to college and now to graduate school--I think rather heavily about what I will wear in each of those places.  In middle and high school, it was easy; we wore horrifically unflattering uniforms (box pleat skirts, polos, and oxfords).  Nowadays, it's not so simple as choosing a khaki, navy, or plaid skirt and a blue, red, or white polo or oxford.  I never thought I'd think this way, but I actually miss the simplicity of an entirely interchangeable wardrobe.  I've been trying to compile one lately, and I think I've got most of it set up with these sets on polyvore, keeping track of what I already own.


I want to go in with a plan.  In order to fill out the gaps in my wardrobe--or, at least, the one I am planning--I'll need to make some purchases.  But instead of picking whatever is cheap, regardless of how much I like it and how well it'll work with other things, I'm going in with a plan and the intent to purchase quality items that will last for years, like all of these.



I can't really afford all of them, so I'll do some secondhand searching and a little bit of buying at Target and the like--after all, I have tops from Target that I've been wearing upwards of five or six years, and they're still in good shape.

The next step, once I go through my clothes, is figuring out the best thing to do with the extras.  I don't want to dump it all someplace where it'll just get thrown out and I don't think much of it could be sold.


Left to right: lightweight voile popover shirt, sailor popover shirt, paper bag skirt, the scholar satchel, ruffle shrug, t-strap heels, gathered-neck tee, easy-care blouselinen henley, lightweight cotton sweater, cotton gathered skirt, flat front chinos, slim fit jeans