Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday's Fancies: A Dreamy Reading Space

Someday, I'll have a room with a deep sofa that almost swallows you, loads of soft and cushy pillows, and wall to wall books.  Until then, I'll keep dreaming.

Source: via Katie on Pinterest

Source: via Katie on Pinterest

I strayed a bit from the usual fashion-themed posts, but you can check out some great style today over at Long Distance Loving.  Enjoy!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Fun Found About: Hey Chickadee

Lately, I've been thinking about how to make my style--clothing, writing, reading, decorating, everything--more grown up and mature, but every now and then, something too irresistibly cute comes along.  This morning, it was the online boutique Hey Chickadee, discovered via a friend's tumblr page.

Let's explode with cuteness now.  Is that okay?

I want them all, please, and I don't really even wear jewelry, aside from my wedding and engagement rings and the occasional necklace my aunt makes me.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Visual to Verbal

Yesterday, I was poking around Etsy and noticed a pattern in my favorite items--nature motifs, mostly, and particularly tree and branch motifs.  I love to connect visual beauty with words that, if unable to capture it, can at least describe it and delineate some understanding of its meaning, some understanding of why it resonates.  In that spirit, I turned to a few quotations (found here) to verbalize what it is about trees that is fascinating.

I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do. ~Willa Cather, 1913

Source: via Katie on Pinterest

Us sing and dance, make faces and give flower bouquets, trying to be loved. You ever notice that trees do everything to git attention we do, except walk? ~Alice Walker, The Color Purple, 1982

Source: via Katie on Pinterest

Why are there trees I never walk under
But large and melodious thoughts descend upon me?
~Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, 1892

Source: via Katie on Pinterest

Anthropomorphized trees seem to come up frequently in literature and in discussions of nature, as seen in the quotations above.  Trees are ancient, majestic, inspiring, and even ancestral in a way.  According to these writers, they are full of history, stories, and even a touch of an oh-so-human desire to be noticed.  In short, it seems that trees attract our attention and appear in our creations because they remind us of ourselves, only stronger, more magnificent, and more lasting.

I hope I haven't bored you to death today or gone off the deep end.  I just thought I'd try something different for today.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Writerly Travels: The Jane Austen House Museum

I'm taking another imaginary trip this morning.  Do you know how much I wish this was real?  I spent a few hours in Heathrow Airport on my way to Kenya four years ago, but that's all I've ever seen of the British Isles.  For some time, I've been compiling a list of things I must see if I can manage a trip across the pond.  The Jane Austen House Museum is, of course, one of the top locations on my list.  If you've been here before, you already know of my love for Jane Austen, seen here, here, and here, so I'm sure a virtual visit to the home in which she wrote and revised the majority of her novels comes as no surprise.

{by David Quick, on Flickr}

Jane Austen's House
{by erinsy, on flickr}

Jane Austen's writing desk
{by Pug, on Flickr}

Jane Austen's bedroom
{also by erinsy}

To examine why it can be insightful and useful for literary study to examine a writer's home and the environment that surrounded their composition, you can read this short article found on the Jane Austen House Museum's website.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Keeping it Together...

During the last three days, I've been exceptionally good at forgetting, misplacing, and generally losing track of everything--my keys, purse, phone, book(s), and the time.

I'd like to think that I'd be more organized and lose things less often if I had one of these rooms.

At the very least, all my books could come out of boxes and resume their places on shelves.

That last one is just ridiculous (as in so amazing that it's ridiculous).  I wish I knew its original source.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Happy Weekend

My dad just got back from a business trip to Scotland last night and brought my mom, sister, and me different pieces from the most adorable accessories set he found in between a day in Dublin, golfing at St. Andrews (a dream he's had for awhile, as it's considered the birthplace of the sport), and working.

I'm a little bit in love with the paper it came wrapped in, too.

My dad has pretty good taste, I must say--or at least an idea of what I actually like!  I was looking for a little keychain sized purse like this a few days ago.  I always keep my driver's license and school ID on my keychain so I'm ready with them at any time.  It's one of those little things that simplifies your life!

This week really got away from me.  I spent the last four days baby-sitting for a family in my old neighborhood, and after spending each day with three (good) kids, with a few hours in the three-digit heat, I was a little exhausted.  So this weekend, I'm embracing the beauty of the air conditioner and staying inside as much as possible.  I have a good amount of stuff to get done and I think my lazy summer days are coming to a close.  They were nice, though!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Just Read :: Peony in Love, by Lisa See

I just finished this book a few days ago and I'm trying to formulate my feelings about it.  I loved it in places, hated it in others, and for the first time, was glad that I took that Chinese Literature course a few years ago.  Yet I can't seem to discern how I feel about how it all came together in the end--or even if it did.  Perhaps a little further study of Chinese literature, mythology, folklore, or historic spiritual teaching would help.  Perhaps my perspective is too westernized to fully appreciate the tale.  I don't know.  I feel like I can recommend it, but I don't feel like I can say I actually liked it.  Does that make sense?

It might be awhile before I get to reviewing another book.  I'm tackling the translations of The Illiad and The Odyssey along with a few other (shorter) works that I'll be using in teaching an English curriculum to a couple of home-schooled students this fall.  Is it horrible that I've only read abridged prose editions of Homer's works?  This will be my first time reading the poetic version in its entirety, though I have read dozens of pages' worth of excerpts.  

Monday, July 18, 2011

Writerly Travels: The Emily Dickinson Museum

This Monday morning, I'd like to start a new series.  Since sometime in high school, I've had this little dream of a road trip through the northeast US that would explore the different homes and locations in which many of my favorite authors composed their works.  The highlight of the trip, for me, would be visiting the Emily Dickinson Museum and seeing the room in which she composed many of her poems, possibly even the one that inspired my blog's title (you can click on "The Poem" button in my sidebar to read it).

Since I can't really pull off the trip right now, I've been perusing the museum's site and getting a good virtual look-around at the homestead and the grounds.  This only makes me want to travel even more, of course, but I'll keep reading anyway.  Do you want to take a look?

Source: via Katie on Pinterest

Perhaps one of the most intriguing aspects of visiting Dickinson's homestead is the knowledge that she hardly left it as an adult.  How could she write a poem that spoke so deeply to me that I've inscribed it in journals multiple times, named a blog (of all things!) for a phrase in its last line, and memorized it the first time I read it, five or six years ago?  How could she have enduring insights into the human soul as well as an ironic sense of humor, unlike many poets of her time, that still entertains readers today?  I believe she must have had the deepest and truest relationships with the people she allowed in her life and that she must have been more willing to look inside herself and explore her own humanity than the ordinary person.  I want to explore the grounds of the home in which she wrote.  Perhaps there, I could gain some insight into her work and maybe even a little clue about how I could create a space in which I could write something beautiful and lasting.

What authors do you love?  Is there an author's home you'd like me to explore or one that you've visited and would like to share?  

Friday, July 15, 2011

Dressing Up

I used to treat dresses as the top tier of dressing up, but I eventually discovered how perfect they are for looking cute while remaining comfortable and easy.  We've had a few really hot days lately, so I've been pulling out my comfy knit dresses to wear and building a slight obsession with pretty dresses.  After all, what other wardrobe piece possesses such great ability to make you feel pretty?  Put them in sunny yellow, and you've got an instant dose of cheerfulness waiting in your wardrobe.

You've probably guessed that this is a Friday's Fancies post.  Isn't it always?  Happy Friday, and have a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


A few of the posts in my google reader this morning have given me a serious case of wanderlust.

There was this one on decor8...

...and these on the English Muse...

Some dear friends went to Greece last month and they aren't helping things.

And my dad is taking off for Scotland for work this weekend.  He plans to golf at St. Andrews, but if I were going, you'd find me exploring the landscape.  It's so unlike anything I've experienced and I am pretty sure the photos I've seen don't do it even the slightest bit of justice.

Scotland - Isle of Skye / Trotternish, Kilt Rock
{by vtveen on flickr}

All images link to their sources, except the second-to-last.  That one is by my friend Abby.  

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


For most of my undergraduate life, Saturdays were not really Saturdays.  I was the opener at my job, which meant rising at four forty-five so I could be at work by five-thirty to unlock the doors and set up the front counter area before the doors opened at six thirty.  I usually worked until eleven on Friday nights and I worked until three in the afternoon on Saturday, so I was exhausted and regularly slept the remainder of the afternoon.

When an extended illness caused me to leave for several months, I rediscovered the beauty of the Saturday morning, the day where you don't burst from sleep at the buzz or ring of an alarm and you can actually cook breakfast and sip your coffee.

I've had a lot more Saturdays since I quit that job and don't quite appreciate them as much.  But sometimes during the week (okay, quite often these days, because I don't have a job), I'll have a day that feels like Saturday.  It's free, open, and full of potential.  I can spend the morning in the kitchen or with a novel and the afternoon browsing the internet for inspiration, making things, or (occasionally) shopping slowly and thoughtfully.  I can savor the light in my grandparents' kitchen and the dancing of the sun and shadows on the garden in the backyard.  Now that we live near family, I can enjoy tea with Oma or dinner with my mom, dad, and sister in the evening.

So today is Tuesday, but I'm making it a Saturday, and stocking up on the inspiration and joyfulness that Saturdays can bring so that I have a good store of it when life starts getting busy again.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Janeites, Again

The festival was bigger and even more fun this year.  I learned a bit about bobbin lace from an incredibly skilled craftswoman, a little about regency hairstyling from a wigmaker from Actor's Theater, and a touch about Regency garments.  The tea, though, was perhaps the best part of the day.  I chose Marianne's Wild Abandon, a green and black tea blend with a floral infusion, along with an irish tea cake with fresh cream and berries.

I'll let the pictures tell you the rest.

{birthday gift for my aunt} 
{an early edition of Godey's Lady's Book--I've looked at scans of its pages, but this was the first time I held one in person.  This is where many American female writers were first published.}
{sugar dish}
{tea from the Jane Austen Tea Series}
{Irish tea cake with fresh berries and cream}
{the Shops of Meryton}
{in a shop}
{on the grounds of Locust Grove}
{Regency reproductions by Gayle Simmons}

{that bow, about two by three inches in size, took eighty hours to create}
{the materials for making bobbin lace}

Friday, July 8, 2011


Every year, for my aunt's birthday, the women of my family indulge in our irrepressible fascination with Jane Austen and the Regency Era.  If you're thinking we just watch the movies and drink tea, you would be mistaken.  We actually go to our local JASNA chapter's yearly festival.

{at JASNA, 2009}

I have a little bit of a guilt complex going on when it comes to my love for Jane Austen--after all, when you're a student of the written word, it feels a little silly to so thoroughly enjoy novels that enjoy more than a bit of a fan-girl following.  But the thing about Austen is that her stories (if not the novels themselves) appeal to all different types of people, and you can enjoy the romance alone or you can delve into their literary merit based on your own personal preference.

So that is how I would explain my love for Austen novels to any critic.  There is something literary about it, but I would love her works even if I was not an English student.

{found here}

Now that I've defended my love for all things Austen, I've got the fun part of this post.  The festival is this weekend and I have got to come up with something suitable to wear.  If I had the materials, I would be sewing a Regency reproduction right now, but I'm turning to my closet instead.  Still, a girl can dream a little, can't she?  I loved the styling of the 2005 adaptation of Pride & Prejudice and always thought I could put together a look with modern pieces that would be similar to the one Keira Knightley is wearing in the above image.  The best part of making an outfit out of modern pieces is that I could get everyday use out of everything.

   regency inspired

Hoss Intropia silk gown, $535
Embroidered blouse, $40
All Saints slim leather jacket, $450
Madewell flat shoes, $142
Jane Norman bohemian handbag, £14
Monsoon wedding hair accessory

Have a great weekend and don't forget to check out the other Friday's Fancies posts over at Long Distance Loving!  

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Just Read :: Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold, by CS Lewis

I just ended a three year period in which I read nothing by CS Lewis.  This had several causes, but the primary one was a professor at my first college who was, in his own words, a renowned CS Lewis scholar.  Everything in his classroom somehow came back to Lewis.  Everything.  He even managed this in our American multi-ethnic literature course while reading Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Sandra Cisneros, and Amy Tan.

I'm glad I picked this book up from its lingering place on my old bookshelf at my parents' house.

Till We Have Faces is a retelling of the myth of  Cupid and Psyche.  The tale comes from the perspective of one of the Pysche's half-sisters, given the name Orual.  She is ugly, lonely, and loves Psyche as her own child.  I won't go into the plot, but I'll tell you that it's unexpected.  It grows a little forced in a few places, but generally works itself back into a natural flow.

Orual is a character that can (and probably will) be both pitied and censured.  Her life is full of sorrow.  She is motherless and her father is tyrannical.  Her only comfort is her friendship with her Greek tutor, called the Fox for his reddish-hued hair and beard, and her half-sister, Istra (also called Psyche).  Her father's kingdom, Glome, falls on hard times and an offering must be made to appease Ungit (the name given to Aphrodite).  Psyche is this offering.  The next part of the story follows just like the myth, with one notable change--Orual is not jealous of Psyche, but rather jealous for her.  She wants her sister back home, to belong to her again.  Instead, they are separated, and Orual desperately tries to possess the love of everyone she knows

It is only in the end that Orual finally confronts the ugliness in her soul--her selfishness, sense of entitlement, and the hurt she has caused others through a possessive, destructive sort of love--and is able to see her sister again.  After confronting and casting out the ugliness in her soul, she becomes as beautiful as Psyche, even though her features do not change.  The only tragedy that remains in the last few pages of the novel is that Orual became beautiful only in her last few days.

Till We Have Faces is a novel about finding one's identity--finding a face, in a sense--but it is not cliché the way self-discovery stories tend to be.  I think this was a good return to an author who was a favorite during childhood, and I'm glad I didn't let my overzealous professor turn me away from CS Lewis' works for good.