Monday, November 26, 2012

The Thin Man series.

Sorry things have been a bit quiet around here lately! I've spent the past week having a lovely Thanksgiving with my family and decorating for Christmas. :) When I started writing up a couple of new posts, I realized that apparently I've used up all my photo storage in Blogger, and now I'm having to upload and store them somewhere else before I use them here. Which is very annoying and more time-consuming than it used to be, but I'll get used to it, I suppose. Anyway...

The Thin Man films are one of my favorite movie series ever. They are the perfect 30s/40s detective stories, with a big dose of romantic comedy. Nick Charles is a former detective who retired after marrying wealthy Nora. But everywhere he goes, he seems to get involved in some sort of murder investigation, so he's not actually retired no matter how many times he claims to be.

There are six Thin Man films, with the first one made in 1934, and the final one in 1947. The first two are my favorites, but I love them all. There are several things that all of the movies have in common:

-Witty banter and chemistry. William Powell and Myrna Loy are one of my favorite on-screen couples. They are seriously adorable and hilarious and seem to have the perfect marriage, in their own kooky way.
-Asta. Nick and Nora have a sidekick- a dog named Asta. Sometimes he helps solve crimes and sometimes he hinders (remember the rock with the note tied to it? And the knife incident?).
-A clueless head detective. The main detective or head of the police department is generally a goober who acts tough but really has no idea what's going on. They would never solve anything without Nick Charles (even though he's technically not on the case).
-An extravagant atmosphere. Nora always has the most over-the-top wardrobe. Fur coats and fancy gowns and quirky hats. The couple is rich and can pretty much afford whatever they want. Nick (and sometimes Nora) is rarely seen without a drink in his hand, but he's never quite drunk.
-A similar climatic conclusion. This is how Nick always reveals the true culprit: he gathers all of the possible suspects in one place, in one room, and casts suspicion on everyone as he goes through the list of clues. Finally he tells us who the real murderer is.

I know it might sound like they made the same movie six times, but it's not like that at all. :) There are little things about each one that stand out:

The first one is the best, I think. And it's also a way to decide if you want to see all the films- if you love the first one, you'll love all the rest. The entire movie was shot in just twelve days...pretty amazing, huh? Number two is After the Thin Man. The mystery in this one revolves around Nora's cousin and family...also, it has Jimmy Stewart. Always a good thing! There are a lot of sketchy people at a nightclub involved, and I love the way that one tiny slip by one of the suspects is how Nick pieces everything together.

The third movie is Another Thin Man. {Ironically, the "thin man" refers to the missing person in the first film, not Nick Charles. But they kept carrying over the phrase in the sequels so it sort-of came to refer to him.} In this one, Nick and Nora are visiting the person who gets murdered, and Nick is actually one of thes suspects at first. I also love that they are parents now, and there's a birthday party where all of Nick's criminal friends show up with their kids. :)

The next movie is called Shadow of the Thin Man, and it revolves around the murder of a jockey at a race track. I love the waiter who recommends the sea bass, no matter what you really want to order. :)

The fifth film is The Thin Man Goes Home. As you might guess, Nick and Nora visit Nick's parents (Nicky is at boarding school, apparently?) and someone is shot dead on their doorstep. Of course. His parents' maid is very jumpy around him, and I love when they reveal why. Though Nick is going alcohol-free while visiting his parents, every time his dad sees him, he is lying on the floor. His dad always assumes he has passed out, though there's really an innocent excuse. :) I like this one a lot. There's a town eccentric and a mysterious painting, and Nick finally gets to prove himself to his dad (who doesn't appreciate that his son is a detective).

I'm partial to the final movie, Song of the Thin Man, because I love big band music and this one is full of that (it's a bandleader that's killed this time). Also, there's Dean Stockwell (also known as the adorable little boy in Anchors Aweigh), Keenan Wynn, a crazy clarinet player, and the guy who plays the dad in Meet Me in St. Louis and Little Women. :)

What do you think about the Thin Man films?

Until next time,

Monday, November 19, 2012

A truth {number 1}.

That sometimes a single girl just needs an evening consisting of a hot bath, a rather large piece of chocolate cake, and the four hour Emma mini-series.

{A new series in which I occasionally pass on random words of wisdom thoughts. They may not be universally acknowledged, but they are personally acknowledged by me. :) }

Until next time,

Friday, November 16, 2012

Hand spun yarn.

You guys...I made yarn!
I still can't wrap my mind around the fact that you can take fluff and twist it into yarn. Amazing.

I am so excited about this...can you tell? :)

I tried Andean plying to make my practice single into a two-ply. I used this video, but I couldn't really see how she was wrapping the yarn around her hand, so this diagram helped a lot.

Here's my yarn compared to some hand-spun I bought recently at the Ferrum festival.

It's very inconsistent, as you can see. {What do they call yarn that is uneven on purpose? Art yarn? Novelty yarn? Yeah, that's definitely the look I was going for here. :)} But I'm just thrilled that it basically looks like yarn. I know you can knit with singles, but I always think of yarn as at least two-ply.

This is just a tiny bit, not enough yards to make anything. But it's just for practice, so that's okay. I'm planning on treating it exactly like I would a larger amount of yarn, setting the twist and all.

Until next time,

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Pride and Prejudice journal.

I worked on this a couple of months ago but am just now getting around to sharing it. :)

Earlier this year I got Gwen Diehn's The Complete Decorated Journal, an amazing book about journaling. I read the whole thing through in a weekend and came away with so many inspiring new ideas for using more art in my journals.

But one section in particular stuck with me. It mentioned The English Patient, which is a book and I think also a movie. Apparently, there's a character who carries a copy of his favorite book, and he has basically made a journal from it. He writes in the margins and grafts his own thoughts and words in amongst those in his favorite book. I thought that was pretty much the most amazing thing ever, so I decided to do that for my next journal.

I found a B&N classics hardcover copy of Pride and Prejudice, which happens to be my favorite book (tied with Narnia, which of course is a series :). I paid a couple of dollars for it at Goodwill, and then I set about to alter it a bit.

I originally painted the cover red, but it looked pretty awful. :) So then I bought some scrapbook paper and recovered the front and back with that.

I also used scrapbook paper to cover the endpapers.

I cut out the picture that was on the dust jacket and glued it inside.

Using a book as a journal like this is interesting. It's good because you don't have the intimidation and pressure that comes with having to fill a bunch of blank pages (like in a normal journal). But it's more complicated because you have to make the pages blank in order to write on them. :)

I bought a big bottle of cheap white acrylic paint, and most of the time I just paint over the pages. Two coats covers the words enough (though they still show through a bit, seen below). I go through and paint five to ten pages at once so I don't have to do it every time I want to journal. Before I started, though, I wrote down all of my absolute favorite pages and parts from Pride and Prejudice so I would know not to paint over those pages when I get to them.

The author of the journaling book recommended removing some pages when you're altering a book. When you paint or glue on these thin pages, they wrinkle up. Plus, whenever you glue anything in, it adds extra thickness. So every so often I cut out a chunk of 3-4 pages with an Exacto knife so the pages inside don't get too thick for the covers. :)

I also added in some other pages. I cut out all but .5" of this page and attached a piece of watercolor paper inside. {I am not a painter, but I like playing around with watercolors every once in a while.}

I especially like the scrapbook paper on the back endpapers and the back cover: weird vintage ads and then old stamps.

Later, I went back and glued in a bit of ribbon as a bookmark and I glued two pieces to the inside covers to tie the book closed. I don't have pictures of that, though. It was something I meant to do while I was working on the book but forgot about.

I also made this a while back: a recipe box. I really want a nice, sturdy, wooden one eventually. But for now I can't find any good ones, or if I do, they're too expensive. So I bought one of those cheap wood recipe boxes from Michael's and Mod Podged it. I used old book pages and some fancy scrapbook paper.

It's okay and will work for now. But it didn't turn out quite like I had hoped. Also, it has several finger prints on it from where I touched the Mod Podge to see if it was dry yet. And guess what? It wasn't. :)

Until next time,

Thursday, November 8, 2012

In which I discuss YA.

If you've been around here any amount of time, you'll know that I am a bookworm. And honestly, I read a lot of YA novels and children's books. I read more books about teenagers now than I did when I was a teenager. I don't read an awfully lot of grown-up books. :)
I feel kind of weird admitting that I enjoy YA because I wasn't a typical teenager. My teenage years were fine and not angsty in the least. I got along with my parents. I much preferred staying at home and reading than hanging out at the mall or cruising around with friends all weekend. I didn't have a cell phone and I didn't count down the days until I was old enough to get into an R-rated movie. I hardly even watched PG-13 movies. :) I like reading books about teenagers, but I still don't care for ones with the smoking/drinking/partying teenage scene.
This post is supposed to be about why I love YA, but I'm having a hard time putting it into words. Maybe it's because I've been there...I've been that age and I can relate to the characters in some way or another. Or maybe it's because they're usually called to step out of their comfort zone and do something brave, and I like that. Maybe it's because there's usually a sweet romance involved. :) Maybe it's a combination of all those things.
One little thing that sometimes bugs me about YA is that it can be very...trendy. That can be a bad thing if the current trend is something you're not interested in, but a good thing when it's one you love. Examples: after the Twilight series became popular, the YA section in bookstores was nothing but vampire romance and paranormal stories. Very obnoxious, considering I have zero interest in reading books like that. But when the dystopian fad hit, following the success of The Hunger Games, well...that's a different story. I do love dystopian YA. :)
These are some of my favorite YA books and/or series:
The Hunger Games. Loved the first one, liked the second one, and the third one was okay. But these are my favorite dystopian stories so far.
Harry Potter series. I see the first few as children's books, but the later ones definitely seem YA to me. I love these's my second favorite book series ever (Narnia is first :).
The Book Thief. Historical fiction set in Germany during WWII. It's haunting and sad and unforgettable.
The Goose Girl. And anything else by Shannon Hale, especially if you're into fairy tales. This is one of my favorite books ever, though I love the rest of the Books of Bayern series and pretty much everything else she's ever written.
Stargirl. I want to be like Stargirl. She's incredibly quirky and creative and joyful. Her whole existence revolves around doing good for other people.
Holes. I haven't read this one in years but I used to love it. Very funny.
To Kill a Mockingbird. One of my favorite books. I only read it for the first time last year! I know, what was I thinking? I'm not sure why I hadn't picked it up before then. This is one of those that's sort of YA or adult-ish, even though the main character is still young.
Ella Enchanted. If you love fairy tales, you must read Gail Carson Levine's books! They are incredibly wonderful...I fell in love with several of them when I was about 11 or 12, and they're still favorites (especially Ella Enchanted and the Two Princesses of Bamarre. But I love all of her stories except Ever). You might have seen the film, but please don't let that stop you from reading the book. It's so much better. This is written as a middle-grade book, but Ella is a teenager.
The Giver. The first dystopian book I ever read...I still remember how it creeped me out with some of the awful ideas of the futuristic world. I haven't yet read the rest of the series.

If you like YA, too, Beth Revis (author of the Across the Universe trilogy...AtU was one of my favorite books that I read last year) is hosting a huge book giveaway at her blog! Tons of signed YA books. Check it out. :)

Until next time,

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Lemon honey cowl {and book finds}.

Just some pictures of my other finished Honey Cowl. I used the lovely golden yellow yarn I bought on our recent trip to the mountains. It's 100% Merino wool and so soft...probably my favorite yarn I've knitted with so far. :)

The color in the above pictures is probably more accurate, but there are variations in the yarn from deep to pale yellow. 

And a little something random to tack on the end of this post. While in town today, me and my mom hit some thrift stores. We hadn't been in a few weeks, and I found some great deals. {Yes, my book resolution is pretty much out the window now. But I'll make my excuses discuss that later at the end of the year.}

I had a bit of a shocker when we went in Goodwill. They're remodeling and rearranging. And the bookstore, which has looked exactly the same since I started shopping there when I was like 9 or 10 years old, is being moved around a bit. That kind of knocked me for a loop. I don't handle change very well. :)

The bargain store also had gotten in a lot of new things since we've been there last. The first book I laid eyes on was a single copy of Three Times Lucky, a wonderful little book I recently read. I ordered that book less than a month ago from B&N and paid about $12 for the bargain store it was $3.99. Ouch. Same thing happened right after I bought A Million Suns. I really do scour the bookshelves there, but every once in a while something good and relatively new just randomly appears.

Anyway, between the bargain store and Goodwill I spent less than $13 on seven books. Not bad.

From the bargain store:
-Al Capone Shines My Shoes. I loved the first book, Al Capone Does My Shirts. It's a story about a boy who lives on Alcatraz in the 30s because his dad works there. How can that not be intriguing? :) But it was so much more than that. Our library didn't have the sequel, so I was thrilled when I found it today!
-Peter Pan. Okay, so I already own one copy. But this is one of those gorgeous editions that Puffin did for children's classics. It has a fairy and stars and pirate ships on the cover. I couldn't resist.

From Goodwill:
-Little House in the Ozarks. A book full of articles and essays written by Laura Ingalls Wilder, most from the early 1900s. I've never come across this before in real life (though I might have seen it mentioned somewhere when I was on my Little House kick last year).
-Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I didn't read HP when the first book or two were first released. So I just have worn little paperback copies of those two. For books three through seven, I was a fan and bought the hardcovers the first day they were released. I've been searching for 1st edition hardcovers of the first two books to complete my set...found CoS today! I picked up two copies in the store: one was not a first edition, and one was but it was really worn. Then on another aisle I stumbled on this one, which was perfect.
-The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. I'm trying to collect all of Roald Dahl's books...I haven't read this one before. I think it's seven short stories.
-Gathering Blue. I loved The Giver. It was the first dystopian book I ever read. I've had the third book, The Messenger, for a while but I've been waiting to read this, the second book, before I got to the third.
-The Story of the Amulet. I just recently heard about E. Nesbit, and I want to read some of her books. So this one of hers drew my attention. I was a bit disappointed when I got home to realize that this is the third book in a series so now I have to read the other two first. :) But look at that spine...this was someone's favorite book. And I love that.

P.S. Did you vote today? I've voted twice before on smaller things, but this is the first year I've been old enough to vote in a presidential election. That was pretty exciting. I'm not particularly crazy over either of the candidates, but as a Christian, I had to support the person who has the same opinion as me on moral issues like abortion.

Until next time,

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Fall knitting.

I have been a bit obsessed with knitting and yarn lately. I go through phases like this, but this time knitting has kept my interest longer than it ever has before (consequently, other than Alicia Paulson's felt ornament sets, I haven't embroidered anything in a couple of months). I finally arrived at the point where I really love knitting. :)

Also, I want to incorporate little woodland creatures into everything I knit. This week I've come across so many adorable patterns featuring bears and owls and badgers and rabbits and deer that it makes my head spin.

But I haven't actually knit anything featuring animals yet. I started knitting Christmas gifts for a couple of family members this week, so it will be a couple of weeks before I can make anything for myself again (and I won't be able to share the gifts here until after Christmas, of course, because my parents read this blog :).

A box from Knit Picks arrived yesterday and it was a bit like Christmas. :) I ordered about 10.5 ounces of white roving to practice spinning with, a circular needle in a size that's hard to find around here, and nine skeins of the Palette fingering weight yarn. That's enough yarn for four pairs of the Woodsy Association wristwarmers...I'm planning on making all of them except the wolf pair. So excited about those! They are ridiculously adorable (especially the badger and the raccoon).

Here's one project for myself I finished recently: the Honey Cowl. I made an in-between size because I didn't have quite enough for the longer version. I love this pattern: it's super easy but it looks beautiful on both sides.

I don't love this yarn, though. I got it on clearance at Hobby Lobby- it's 30% alpaca and 70% acrylic. The color is pretty but it sheds like crazy and it's itchy.

And yesterday, being in between gift projects, I finished my second version of the Honey Cowl. It's slightly narrower than the short version, because I was running low on yarn (someday I'd like to make this cowl when I have plenty of the needed yarn :). I love it...the yarn is wonderful. Here's a progress picture but hopefully I can get some of the finished item soon.

And finally, I've been practicing spinning. :) This is my best attempt so far. I forgot to get pictures comparing this with my first attempt, but the difference is amazing. I think at first I didn't realize that thin yarn is still strong. Anyway, I'm hoping to try plying soon so it will look like real yarn.

{I'm practicing with tiny amounts of roving I got from Hobby Lobby, which is why it doesn't look like much yarn. I won't use this for projects...I'm just practicing. :) }

In other news, I'm about six episodes into Doctor Who and I love it. I've never been a sci-fi/space and time travel sort of person, and sometimes it is a bit cheesy and over-the-top. But it's somehow still awesome. :)

Also, I'm trying to wait another week or so before I put up my decorations and break out my Christmas music. But the temptation to watch Christmas in Connecticut and hear Sinatra croon The Christmas Waltz is getting stronger everyday...

Until next time,