Thursday, March 16, 2017

Beauty and the Beast {1991}

{Animated Disney Film #30 of 56}

I know I've mentioned this (multiple times) before, but Beauty and the Beast is my absolute favorite Disney movie. So be prepared for some gushing. :) This movie came out in 1991, the year I was born, and I grew up watching it and loving it. But as I've continued watching it as an adult, I've come to appreciate it even more!

From those first few notes of music in the prologue, I just love everything about this movie. (Well, I do have a few tiny qualms, which I'll mention later.) First of all, let's talk about Belle. She is obviously the best Disney princess! Or at least she has always been my favorite. :) She's smart, and she's a bookworm. She has a tendency to wear colors like blue and yellow and green. She's a brunette. (Never underestimate the significance of a fellow brown-haired girl in a sea of blond princesses.)

And most importantly, Belle has common sense and a strong sense of morality. (One good example: when the Beast rescues her from the wolves and he's injured. Even though he just saved her life, she could have easily escaped, but she chose not to. She keeps her promises.) I can't help but compare her behavior and personality to Ariel's in The Little Mermaid. Ariel is so shallow and annoying and spoiled, and she would have fallen for Gaston in a minute. (Paige O'Hara is the voice of Belle, and she was chosen because they felt her voice had a slight Judy Garland-ish quality. And apparently Belle was made to look reminiscent of Judy Garland? I never knew that before, but now looking at her, I can kind of see that.)


All of the other characters in this movie are equally interesting. The Beast reminds me a bit of Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre...rough around the edges, with some mistakes in his past, but such a redeemable character. Gaston: wow. He has to be one the biggest jerks in Disney history. :) He's just a conceited, arrogant annoyance at the beginning, but he quickly escalates into full-blown villain after trying to get Belle's dad sent to the asylum and hunting the Beast. And then there are all of the charming enchanted servants in the castle: Lumiere, Cogsworth, Mrs. Potts, Chip, etc.

I love the music in Beauty and the Beast. Originally it was not going to include songs, which I can't even wrap my mind around, because this movie was meant to be a musical. The songs were written by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, the talented team responsible for The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin. Not only are all of the songs catchy, but the lyrics are amazing and hilarious. I find myself cracking up when I listen closely to the words of Gaston and Be Our Guest. Be Our Guest is also stunning visually...it's just like the elaborate, over-the-top dance numbers in those old musicals I love so much.


A few other little random things: the Beast's library. That has to be a memorable part for every book lover who has ever watched this movie. I know it's the reason why it's one of my life goals to someday have a bookcase tall enough to require a ladder. :) Also, the end of the movie always makes me teary-eyed. During the battle scene when the Beast has lost the will to fight Gaston because Belle is gone, that gets me every time. And then I get teary for nicer reasons when the transformation happens. :)

There are a couple things that always bothered me as a kid about this movie. First of all, why is Mrs. Potts a white-haired, grandmotherly type when her son, Chip, is a young child? And then there's the fact that I used to be so disappointed with how the Beast looked after he turned back into his human form. I think it was the long hair that always threw me off, ha. It doesn't bother me as much now...I like that he's so tall and broad, like the Beast, and I guess the longer hair fits with his Beast look, too. And then something that I only noticed the most recent time I watched: how did the village not know about the Beast? He was a prince, so logically he should have been the ruler of this nearby village, and the curse only happened about 10 years before. But it's like nobody remembers him.


Obviously, those little qualms don't affect my love for Beauty and the Beast at all. :) It really is the perfect Disney movie, in my opinion: pretty animation, incredibly memorable songs, good characters and plot, and the right blend of humor and drama.

Of course I'm very excited about the live action version of this story that's coming out this weekend. I might even review it here at some point. But up next on the animated list is another childhood favorite: Aladdin.

What do you think about Beauty and the Beast? What's your favorite Disney movie?

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Yarn Along


Reading: Life Among the Savages, by Shirley Jackson. Ever since I read We Have Always Lived in the Castle (and absolutely loved it) and a collection of her short stories, I've been meaning to read more Shirley Jackson. This is so different from her usual style (eerie, unsettling...just plain creepy), but I'm loving it so far! It's a memoir about her raising her children in an old house in the Vermont countryside. It's amusing and I just love her writing style.

Knitting: A sock, always. :) Just a couple more inches on the foot and this one will be finished, then on to the second of the pair. It's another pair of Hermione's Everyday Socks...I really love that pattern!

{Yarn Along is a weekly link up hosted by Ginny where you can share what you've been knitting and reading.}

Friday, March 10, 2017

Sock scrap blanket {100 squares}.


Two years ago, I started my blanket made from sock yarn scraps. Last week I completed the 100th square, so I thought it might be a good time to share my progress.

100 squares over two years isn't really that many, especially considering I had almost half of those done just months after starting the blanket. But this is a long-term project with no deadline. Sometimes I'll finish ten or twenty squares over a few weeks, and sometimes I'll go months without even touching it.

I really do love everything about knitting on this blanket. (Well, everything except weaving in the ends. I do those every 5 squares so I won't get behind.) I love picking out the next color and occasionally buying cute mini skeins to add in. I love all of the memories involved: being able to see glimpses of so many previous projects in one place, and remembering where all of the yarns came from. I love how it's easy and mindless knitting, a perfect break from more challenging projects.

To celebrate, I bought that pack of St. Patrick's Day themed mini skeins from Gnome Acres. Here's hoping the next hundred squares don't take two years! :)

You can find more about my progress here, or more information on my Ravelry project page.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

What I Read: February


February was an okay reading month. I really enjoyed two of the books I read, but the rest were just okay. I'm trying to make sure that each month I read at least a couple of books that have been on my shelves for a long time, and that's been going well. As always, click on the titles for my Goodreads reviews.

The War That Saved My Life, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. This was a very good middle grade novel about two siblings evacuated from London during WWII. Not the most original premise, but there is an interesting twist: the daughter has a clubfoot and has been kept in her apartment her entire life by her abusive mother. I really enjoyed this one, but oh, that horrible mother made me so furious.

The Miserable Mill, by Lemony Snicket. I sporadically started rereading a Series of Unfortunate Events last year. I'd read the first three, and after I found out that the new Netflix series (which I haven't seen yet) covered up through the fourth book, I decided to reread it so I'll be ready to watch the series. I didn't remember much about this one....it's not one of my favorites but it was still good.

A Little Something Different, by Sandy Hall. This was my fluffy, romantic Valentine's read. It was about what I expected: pretty cute but nothing mind-blowing and not something I'll ever reread. The whole 14 viewpoints thing was hard to get used to.

Cold Comfort Farm, by Stella Gibbons. I don't even know what to say about this book. It sounded like something that would be right up my alley, but I didn't enjoy it. It improved near the end, but it was strange and bizarre, and so far from the hilarious modern classic I'd been led to expect.

A Pocket Full of Rye, by Agatha Christie. After slogging through Cold Comfort Farm for ten days, a Miss Marple mystery was exactly what I needed! This one was very enjoyable and comforting. (British murder mysteries are comforting to me, apparently?)

The Yarn Whisperer, by Clara Parkes. I enjoy yarny memoirs in general (think Stephanie Pearl McPhee's books), but this one was just okay. I felt like it was trying too hard to be philosophical most of the time, but I did like some of the essays.


In February, I also decided to start quitting books. Not without good reason, of course, but there are so many books that I want to read, why would I waste my time on ones that I'm not enjoying? I struggled through about half of this book, Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, before finally deciding to stop. It wasn't awful by any means, but it didn't feel worth continuing. I don't know why quitting books has always been so hard for me!

{This post is a little late because honestly it's been a rough week. Pa, my grandfather, passed away Tuesday night. He was eighty-eight, but it felt very unexpected because other than a bad stomach bug for several days previous, he seemed so healthy. My family would appreciate your prayers.}

Friday, February 24, 2017

Knitting: Germinate shawl.


One of my favorite bloggers used to be Amanda of Hey Porkchop. (I say "used to be" because she stopped blogging for a while, but she has started up again this year! In that hiatus, I started following her Instagram. I don't have Instagram but still keep an eye on a few of my favorite accounts over there.) I loved her knitting and quilting projects: the colors and yarns she picked, the cozy and autumn feel of her aesthetic, etc. She made me want to be a sock knitter before I even knitted my first pair. But my favorite project was her Germinate shawl. It was so gorgeous! At that point, I'd only been knitting less than two years and I couldn't even imagine getting to where that shawl was within my skill level.

But here it is, my own Germinate shawl! For the last couple of years, I'd planned on knitting this pattern at some point, but I really didn't intend on stealing Amanda's color scheme so shamelessly. :) At a visit to a yarn shop, I just happened to buy three skeins of sportweight yarn in these colors, planning on using them for different projects. When I bought them, the lady mentioned that they looked nice together, but I didn't think anything of it. It wasn't until sometime last year that I realized they were the same colors as Amanda's shawl, and that if I bought one more skein of purple, I'd have enough to knit one for myself. (I contacted the shop and they just happened to have one more skein of purple in the dye lot I needed. Obviously this was meant to be, ha.)

Though I used two different brands, all of the yarn is 100% American raised Rambouillet wool. The purple and orange are Swans Island All American Collection Sport in the Crocus and Flame colorways. The gray is Equity Sport from Sincere Sheep (which is naturally dyed) in the colorway Winter's Night. I really like Rambouillet fiber in general, and both of these yarns have a natural, semi-woolen feel. They aren't overly processed...I did often have to pull out prickly bits of VM from the Swans Island yarn, and the Sincere Sheep yarn had some little nubby pieces too.

The pattern itself is very well written and thorough, down to the stitch counts listed. But I haven't knitted a lot of lace before, and this lace was probably one of the most difficult things I've ever worked on. Because of printer issues, I couldn't print the charts, only the written instructions, and I had to be completely focused on keeping my place. No movie watching while working on the lace sections! For some reason, my brain wasn't finding this lace to be very intuitive, but I can't really complain because I love the end result.

Using these colors, which I love separately but wouldn't normally choose to use together, was definitely out of my comfort zone, but I'm so happy with this shawl! It doesn't quite have the light, drapey, elegant feel of most of the Germinate shawls out there because of my yarn choices. (The picot bind off, for example, is a little bulky, especially because I didn't block out each point. I don't have enough pins or patience for that!) But I like that it's rustic and wooly...that's more my style anyway. :) The fact that it's made from all American, hand dyed yarn is even better! It feels satisfying to finally have the ability to knit something that, for such a long time, felt too difficult for me to attempt.

Project page.