Saturday, November 30, 2013

Green plaid shirtdress from eShakti.

A month or so ago, eShakti contacted me about reviewing an item from their winter line. I reviewed a dress from them before, back in February, and I really liked that dress so I decided to give it a go again. :)

I picked out this dress, a "retro plaid shirtdress." I did enter my measurements so I could get a custom size, but I didn't change any of the other options. I liked the elbow-length sleeves and the pockets (love the pockets!). The dress automatically comes in a below-knee length, and while that's my preferred length for dresses, the last one I ordered was a bit short for my tastes. So I debated about getting the next length, just to be safe, but ultimately decided not to. I'm glad I left it as it was, because below-knee on this dress worked out perfectly!

In my past two experiences with eShakti, I was sent an email when the dress was shipped. With this dress, I kept waiting for that email, but it didn't come. After about two weeks, I was nearly ready to email them to verify that my request went through, when the DHL man pulled into the driveway asking for my signature on a thin, square box that could only be from eShakti. :) I'm not sure why I didn't get the email, but two weeks is still within their time frame of making and shipping the dress (though not as quick as the last one I received).

To be honest, my first impressions of my dress were a little eh. Here are the things I did love right from the start...the fabric is lovely: nice and heavy and soft and perfect for a winter dress. I love the way that the bodice fits. There are three darts on each side instead of just one. I also like the plaid and the full skirt and the collar.

What I didn't like: the buttons and the sleeves. The buttons were cheap gold ones, and they looked so tacky on the dress. For a dress that costs well over $100, it looks like the buttons could have been nicer! But that was an easy fix: I just switched them out for some navy ones from Hobby Lobby. The sleeves are gathered in a weird way at the shoulders. The sleeves are loose, which is a good thing because it makes them comfortable (this dress is ridiculously comfortable). But when I lift my arms, I feel like the extra sleeve fabric at the shoulders poofs out and gives me wide, football-player shoulders.

I seriously considered trying to alter the sleeves...that's how much I disliked them at first. But now I'm wondering if I was just overthinking it and being too self-conscious. Looking at these pictures, the sleeves look perfectly fine! I'm glad I didn't go and chop off them off or anything. :)

The dress seems to be constructed nicely. Though the buttons on the front are functional, there's an invisible zipper on the side. Because the fabric is thick, there's some bulk at the waistband and sometimes the zipper gets a little snagged at that seam. I think it'll be fine though (I hope so, anyway, because I don't relish the thought of having to replace that zipper).

Overall, I'm pleased with the dress. I don't absolutely love it like I hoped to, but it's growing on me. It's a cute, warm, and super comfortable winter dress. The customized fit worked out perfectly, and I think I'll eventually get over the sleeve issues. :) Aside from not getting an email when the dress was shipped, the whole process of ordering went smoothly and within two weeks, I had a new custom made dress! Thanks, eShakti, for giving me the opportunity to review another dress.

*Note: I received this dress for free from eShakti in exchange for an honest review.*

Friday, November 29, 2013

Cowl crazy.

I feel like it has been forever since I've shared any finished knitting projects here! I have been doing lots of Christmas knitting lately (and making very good progress on my list so far :), but here are a few cowls that I finished up before I started gift knitting.

I used to not understand cowls. Why not just wear a scarf? But this year I've become a bit obsessed with them. They're a lot quicker to knit than scarves, they're not as bulky but still keep you warm, and most importantly: they generally stay put. They stay close to your neck and you don't have to keep adjusting them! I'm a cowl convert. :)

First up is the Downton Cowl. I've been wanting to make this one for a long time now. It's named after Downton Abbey, which is of course a plus, but I also love the chevron design. And it's a very easy pattern.

Another thing I love about this one is that it's not floppy. It's not snug by any means, but this is the first cowl that I've made that seems to stay in the perfect position around my neck. It doesn't droop over and let cold winter air in.

I used a skein of Madelinetosh Tosh DK in the oak colorway. Though I was automatically drawn to this color in the yarn shop, when I first started knitting with it I wasn't too sure about it. But the more I knitted, the more I loved it. :) It's a really unusual brown/gold color with black undertones and it almost looks greenish at times. It matches well with both brown and black, which is nice! I'm so glad now that I picked this color.

Next up is a cowl that I finished months ago. I actually posted about this one back with Stella's second sweater, but I never had pictures of me wearing it. It's the Chickadee Cowl pattern, though it has a whole different look when you use fingering weight yarn instead of the bulky yarn the pattern calls for. I absolutely adore this color. Once again, this is Madelinetosh yarn (Tosh Merino Light), and isn't it gorgeous? That company has the best yarn colors ever. I've been wearing this one a lot this fall and winter.

And the last one is pretty special, because this was my first time knitting with my own handspun! I wrote about the yarn here.

I had a pretty limited amount of yarn (just under 150 yards), so I knew I wanted to make a cowl. I did a lot of browsing on Ravelry and finally picked the Soggy Waffles pattern. It was such a quick project (and it seemed even quicker considering it was my first project after finishing my sweater!) and resulted in such a soft, squishy cowl.

I have to admit that when I first finished this one, I was a bit underwhelmed. The colors didn't come out exactly as I expected...I wasn't anticipating stripes. And while barber-poled yarn looks lovely in the skein, it does knit up very mottled. Anyway, I got over that really quick after I wore it a few times. :) It's just so soft (the wool is BFL) and I actually like the stripes now.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

12 Days of Christmas Films: While You Were Sleeping {1}

(Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow, you guys! I hope you all have a lovely day.)

I know that I usually do a post about my favorite Christmas movies every year, but I've only occasionally written reviews of them. I feel like I didn't get to do an awful lot of Christmas-related posts last year, because my computer crashed at the beginning of December. So this year I've decided to do a special series (I know, I really need another series going on :).

I'm going to have the twelve days of Christmas...films! These won't be consecutive days, but between now and December 25th, I'm going to review my favorite holiday movies.

For those of you who might not be celebrating just yet, I'm starting off probably the least Christmassy movie on my list. It takes place at that time of year and has holiday atmosphere, but it's not so Christmassy that I feel guilty about watching it all during the year. Because I do watch it all through the year. :)

First up, While You Were Sleeping!

You know how sometimes you watch a movie and you just instantly connect with it? I stumbled across While You Were Sleeping last year on Netflix. I loved it so much that I actually got it through Netflix three times. Then I finally got the DVD last Christmas...and I've watched it again three or four times so far this year.

I'm sure I have a goofy grin on my face the whole time I'm watching this movie, right from that song at the beginning until the credits. It's just so fun and sweet. Just in case you don't have any idea what this film is about, here's a summary: Lucy works at a train station in Chicago as a token/ticket collector. She has a crush on a man who comes through the station everyday, though they've never really spoken. On Christmas, Lucy ends up saving the man's life when he falls onto the train tracks, and when she gets to the hospital, there's a misunderstanding and everyone believes that she is his fiancee. Everyone except his suspicious (and very handsome *ahem*) brother, Jack. :) Unbelievable? Yes. Does that bother me? Not a bit.

Lucy is such a likable character. She just wants a happily ever after. (And if we're honest, most of us have probably daydreamed about someone we don't really know, right? Though if I were Lucy, I have to say that Peter would have not been the one I chose. :) I love how she's not the kind of perfect girl that's so typical in romantic comedies. Lucy lives alone in a little apartment with her cat. She doesn't have the best job. She wears oversized sweaters and ugly stocking hats and her dad's old coat. (It always cracks me up how she nonchalantly pulls that gift out of the sleeve of her huge sweater towards the beginning.)

And Jack...okay, let's talk about Jack. :) How can you not love him from the first moment he appears on screen? Jack with his floppy hair, boots, plaid shirts, and denim. And he has a really lovely, unusual, deep voice. He's basically the perfect snarky, truck-driving, furniture-building 90s guy. :) {I know I've mentioned this before, but the first time I watched this film, it took a while for Jack to grow on me, and for one reason only: I couldn't stop thinking of him as the dad from Casper. But I got over that pretty quickly, as you can see...}

As for the other characters, I love Peter and Jack's family. They're so kooky and fun, but not over-the-top. You feel like they could be a family you know. Lucy doesn't have anyone until she meets can't blame her for wanting to be part of their family! {As for Peter, I never liked him. I didn't like him at the beginning, but my dislike was solidified when Lucy is looking in his wallet and he has all of the pictures...of himself. Same thing in his apartment. Hint #1 that he's not for you, Lucy!} And this is completely random, but their house is so cozy and Christmassy.

Aside from the characters, the rest of the movie is just wonderful. It's set in Chicago...for some reason most of my favorite modern romantic comedies are set in big cities (You've Got Mail, for example), though I don't like cities at all. The soundtrack is really great. There are a couple of Glenn Miller Christmas songs and an Ella Fitzgerald one, too! And the humor is perfect. There are lots of witty zingers and then just some other random hilarious moments, like the paper boy wiping out on his bike and Jack fainting after giving blood.

Some of my favorite scenes: the entire part where Lucy and Jack are delivering the couch to Peter's apartment. They are so stinking cute together! And then the dinner scene is hilarious. It definitely has an old movie feel to it. There are several random, unrelated conversations going on at once. Everyone is talking over each other and they're oblivious to the other conversations that are happening. :) I also love the "wedding" scene and the very end, of course.

So...I love this movie. Can you tell? :) From the first time I saw it, it felt like an old favorite that I've been watching for years and years. I can watch it repeatedly and not get tired of it, and it always makes me smile.
Have you ever seen While You Were Sleeping?

{P.S. There is some mild language in the movie. And there are some inappropriate comments and a few awkward scenes scattered throughout. Some of them involve Joe, Jr., but the most awkward one takes place in the hospital. If you skip from the point where Jack is questioning Lucy in front of the family at the hospital, and the grandmother says that if Lucy really is the fiancee she can prove it, until after the family crowds into the elevator, then you'll miss most of that scene. :) }

Monday, November 25, 2013

White Christmas {Music Monday 20: Christmas Edition}

White Christmas is one of my favorite Christmas songs. How could it not be? It's such a wonderful, warm, cozy, nostalgic song. :) And even though I adore Bing Crosby's classic version, my favorite version is probably the one from the Drifters. Yes, the one that's in The Santa Clause and apparently Home Alone, too (to be honest, I'm not a Home Alone fan. I've seen it several times, but I don't like it very much). Their version is just so much fun and I can listen to it over and over.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Project 360: Week 47

 {322} I love the way sunsets look through the trees.

{323} I took quite a few pictures of deer this evening...I know this one is blurry, but they all were.

{324} Rereading Catching Fire in anticipation of the film (I haven't seen it yet, but I hope to at the beginning of the week!).

{325} And finishing it.

{326} Forgot to take a photo on Friday! Or rather, I remembered after 10:00 that night and didn't have anything to take a picture of.

{327} I wore one of my Doctor Who shirts in celebration of the 50th anniversary. :)

{328} Sweet little Stella. :) Isn't she ridiculously adorable? She was one month old yesterday!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

50 years.

Happy 50th anniversary, Doctor Who!

I'm sure you guys know that I'm a relatively new fan...I only discovered it last year. But I quickly became obsessed with this quirky, crazy show. :) I'm rewatching the series again (just finished series 3) and loving it even more, if that's possible.

We don't have satellite or cable, but thankfully I was able to watch the 50th anniversary special at my grandparents' house this afternoon. It was quite the experience, imagining all of the DW fans across the universe world watching at the same time. And the special was amazing. I have to admit that there was a point about halfway through where I was thinking, this probably won't be as spectacular as I had hoped. But things quickly turned around and I was definitely impressed. :) It was such a lovely tribute to the show, and everyone seemed like they were having so much fun. Especially David Tennant and Matt Smith (oh my goodness! So hilarious and awesome together!), but also Billie Piper. I loved the way they alluded to the old series and even I, who have only seen a few of the classic episodes, recognized and appreciated Tom Baker's appearance. :) Now I'm even more curious about watching more classic episodes. And the urge to knit the Doctor Who scarf grows stronger, though I try to tell myself I would never be brave enough to wear it.

Anyway, well done, BBC. You never fail to impress me.

What did you guys think about The Day of the Doctor?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Dear Mr. Knightley.

Ever since I first stumbled across Katherine Reay's debut novel, Dear Mr. Knightley, I knew I wanted to read it. The cute cover, intriguing title, and the promise of Austen references made me fairly confident that I would like this book.
But I didn't expect to absolutely adore it. Imagine my surprise when I found myself drawn in right from the beginning. If I wasn't reading this book, I kept thinking about how much wanted to be reading it. It kept me up past my bedtime (and as much as I love to read, I also love my routine and sleep, so it's rare that a book keeps me up :). It made me smile and cry...multiple times. Sometimes a book just unexpectedly leaves a huge impression on you, and that's what happened to me with this one. It's definitely one of the best books I've read this year.
Though Dear Mr. Knightley is a character-driven story, the plot itself was interesting. It's a modern retelling of the novel Daddy-Long-Legs, by Jean Webster. I wasn't familiar with that story...I had heard of it but never read it or seen the film. So I was a bit surprised by a twist in the plot towards the end. The thought had crossed my mind, but I was surprised because I didn't expect it to actually happen. As for the modernization of the plot and setting (Daddy-Long-Legs was published in 1912), I thought it was done really well. There were lots of references to modern things, like texting and the Internet and such, but the book didn't feel "contemporary." It felt timeless, exactly like a classic story retold in modern times should.
And as for the Sam, the main character, isn't always likable. You can't really blame her, with the life she's had up until this point! As more and more information about her past emerges, you start to see why she is the way she is. But I could relate to Sam in so many ways. I felt like I really connected with her character. I'm awkward and sometimes don't anticipate how other people will react to things. I'm guilty of being too absorbed in fictional worlds and characters. I don't use Jane Austen quotes to express myself, but if you're in a conversation with me for any length of time, the chances are that some book or movie reference will be made. And to be completely honest, I'm also guilty of building walls around myself to shut people out, because I'm afraid or because I don't want to get hurt or for other more trivial reasons. It's not like I have a reason or excuse to be that way, as Sam does, but I'm a quiet and introverted person anyway and it's just harder for me to open up about important things. I loved seeing Sam's journey and how she had changed by the end of the book.

There were so many great supporting characters as well...Alex Powell and Kyle and the Muirs and Alex Powell. Alex. Did I mention him? Ha. :) I was smitten with him from the moment that he and Sam ran into each other (literally). I loved how their friendship slowly grew.

I feel like I haven't done a very good job of explaining why this book is so incredible. In the spirit of Sam, I have to say that, "If I loved this book less, I might be able to talk about it more." :) And there's so much to love here: an intriguing plot, lots of classic literature references mixed in with some pop culture ones, wonderful characters, some drama, and a certain unique quality that I can't quite put my finger on. Dear Mr. Knightley comes highly recommended from me!

Samantha Moore has always hidden behind the words of others—namely, her favorite characters in literature. Now, she will learn to write her own story—by giving that story to a complete stranger. Sam is, to say the least, bookish. An English major of the highest order, her diet has always been Austen, Dickens, and Shakespeare. The problem is, both her prose and conversation tend to be more Elizabeth Bennet than Samantha Moore.

But life for the twenty-three-year-old orphan is about to get stranger than fiction. An anonymous, Dickensian benefactor (calling himself Mr. Knightley) offers to put Sam through Northwestern University’s prestigious Medill School of Journalism. There is only one catch: Sam must write frequent letters to the mysterious donor, detailing her progress.

As Sam’s dark memory mingles with that of eligible novelist Alex Powell, her letters to Mr. Knightley become increasingly confessional. While Alex draws Sam into a world of warmth and literature that feels like it’s straight out of a book, old secrets are drawn to light. And as Sam learns to love and trust Alex and herself, she learns once again how quickly trust can be broken.

Reminding us all that our own true character is not meant to be hidden, Reay’s debut novel follows one young woman’s journey as she sheds her protective persona and embraces the person she was meant to become. - Summary from Booksneeze

*Note: I received this book for free from Booksneeze in exchange for an honest review.*

Monday, November 18, 2013

Sleigh Ride {Music Monday 19: Christmas Edition}

If you're one of those who doesn't listen to Christmas music until after Thanksgiving or *gasp* until the beginning of December, bear with me for the next couple of weeks! I started listening to Christmas music this past week and Music Mondays are probably going to be all Christmas between now and December 25th. :)

This song always makes me smile, because 1) It's Ella Fitzgerald and she's awesome, and 2) It reminds me of Elf (it's in the film). Which is hilarious and one of my most favorite Christmas movies ever. But more on that later! :)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Project 360: Week 46

{315} A nearly bedtime, I-forgot-to-take-a-picture photo. :)

{316} Pretty sunset.

{317} TARDIS ornament. :)

{318} This book made me really hungry...

{319} I couldn't hold off any longer- I put up my Christmas tree!

{320} This candle also makes me hungry. It smells so much like dessert.

{321} I'm flying through this book, which I am loving so far! Whenever I'm not reading it, I'm thinking about how much I want to be reading it. :)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Alice in Wonderland {1951}

{Animated Disney Film #13 of 52}

In one of the special features on the Alice in Wonderland DVD, someone makes the comment that when you watch a Disney film, it becomes part of your consciousness. Bits and pieces of it are always in the back of your mind, even if it's been years since you watched it. I think that's so true for me, especially with the Disney movies I remember watching repeatedly when I was younger, like this one.

I've always loved the story of Alice in Wonderland. Maybe part of that stems from loving the Disney version as a kid. I read the book several years ago (I need to reread it!), and I've never met with an adaptation of the story so far that I haven't liked. {I just realized that, after this post, I've blogged about every version I've seen so far: 1933 classic movie, Tim Burton adaptation, and the SyFy mini the way, if you haven't seen that last one, watch it! It is so awesome and infinitely better than I expected it to be.} I'm even enjoying Once Upon a Time in Wonderland so far, even though it is really cheesy.

So...Disney's Alice in Wonderland is quite different from the original book. The tone is a lot lighter and it's much condensed and sort of Americanized (or at least that's what the English apparently claimed when it was released). But I feel like the spirit and the kookiness of the story is still there. It's not so different that if this was your first introduction to Alice (as it probably was for most of us), you won't appreciate the original source material later on.

I really love the look of this film...the colors and the backgrounds and the style of everything. That's not surprising, since this is considered the Disney film that Mary Blair had the most impact on. And I'm a big fan of her style. Her concept art for 50s Disney movies is so gorgeous!

Okay, from now on my thoughts about the film will probably be random and rambling, like the film itself. :) I jotted down a bunch of stuff while watching, but none of the things really have any connection to each other...

The movie is really fast paced at the beginning. The whole film is like that to a certain extent, with Alice moving from one strange situation to the next, meeting lots of unusual characters. It's just extremely quick at the very beginning.

Also, there is so much music. None of the songs are very long, but there are tons of them! I think I read or heard in the special features that Alice in Wonderland has more songs than any other Disney feature film. And I pretty much love them all. In a World of My Own, All in the Golden Afternoon, and The Unbirthday Song are my favorites, though.

I love the Walrus and the Carpenter section. I just wish the song followed the poem word for word! That would have been so clever. It is exact in a few places, but they changed a lot of it to fit the tune. Random fact: In sixth grade, I had a very quirky literature teacher who knew the entire poem by heart. And ever since then, I've had a strange urge to memorize the original poem, too, though I haven't done it yet. :)

I've always loved the White Rabbit's house, though I never thought it suited him! It seems like an adorable little dollhouse, and too feminine for him. I wouldn't mind living there, though, thatched roof and all! I remember loving that whole scene, with Bill the Lizard. I remember feeling concerned for Alice when the Dodo was singing that song about smoking her out of the house. :)

Another favorite scene is the talking flowers, though they are rather cruel. The caterpillar, however, has always been one of my least favorite Wonderland characters. I realized something this time around, though. Ever since Once Upon a Time in Wonderland started up, I've always wondered why they decided to include Jafar, genies, and other Aladdin-ish aspects in a Wonderland story. I didn't see the connection. But on rewatching this movie, I can't help but wonder if they took inspiration from the caterpillar? He has an English accent, but between his shoes and the music playing during that section, he seems to have an Aladdin vibe going on. Coincidence or inspiration? I don't know.

I love the mad tea party scene. It's so bizarre and chaotic. It's overwhelming! There's so much going on. Ed Wynn did the voice of the Mad Hatter, of course, and he's just perfect. His animated character even looks a bit like the real-life him! They had the voice actors and actresses actually act out live action versions of the scenes just for the animators to use as inspiration and references. It turns out that Ed Wynn was so perfect in the live action references, with lots of funny ad-libbing and such, that they used those recordings in the film. (When he later went in the booth to record the actual script, it felt flat compared to his informal version.)

I had forgotten that Sterling Holloway was the voice of the Cheshire Cat! If it seems like his name comes up a lot in these Disney posts, that's because he did a voice in eight of the thirteen films we've covered so far. And he's awesome, as usual.

I love all of those strange creatures in Tulgey Wood, too...the ones that seen frightening at first until you really see them.

And then, of course, we get to the Queen of Hearts. It seems like she gets the least screen time in this film, of all the Alice in Wonderland adaptations. And she's just so silly and over-the-top here that it's hard to take her seriously (no matter how many times she shouts "Off with his/her head!"). If she sounds familiar, by the way, it's because this voice actress also did the voices of: a couple of the elephants in Dumbo, the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella, Aunt Sarah in Lady and the Tramp, Flora in Sleeping Beauty, among others! Go figure. I never would have imagined the Fairy Godmother and the Queen of Hearts being voiced by the same lady. I love that Walt Disney used so many voice actors in multiple films.

As I've been doing this Disney marathon, I've been trying to think about the films in the time period they were released. Sometimes I see connections, but sometimes the Disney films seem so timeless that it amazes me that they were released in that era! But some of the animation with all of the Queen's card soldiers reminds me so much of the spectacular dance numbers of 50s know those shot from above that look like kaleidoscopes?

So yeah, I love this movie. It's one of my childhood favorites. I know I've said that several times, and there are more to come. :) The 50s were just an incredible time for Disney animation!

Are you an Alice in Wonderland fan, or is it just too strange for you?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Autumn cross stitch sampler.

Fall is my favorite season...I'm sure I've said that a thousand times before. But this fall has been especially good. It's like somehow October and November have included all of the best, most quintessential fall things.

Beautiful leaves. My favorite color is yellow and it seems like yellow is everywhere this time of year. Yellows and oranges and reds and browns: cozy colors. The smell of leaves (leaves smell so good!) and wood smoke. Day trips to the mountains and folklife festivals and eating fudge and funnel cakes. A soundtrack of the Avett Brothers, because between their new album and old favorites, it seems like they're all I've been listening to lately. Glorious sunsets and lots of knitting (new socks!) and cross stitching. Pumpkin candles and stacks of books waiting to be read. Huge mugs of hot chocolate with whipped cream and chocolate chips.

And there have been new things, too. Like lots of baby holding. A baby girl who pouts and smiles while she's sleeping and who already wears the hat her auntie knit her (though it's not like she has much choice at two and a half weeks old. But this is only the beginning, sweet girl! I'll make you anything you ask for).

Maybe that's why I loved working on this autumn cross stitch sampler so much. It seems like so many of my favorite fall things are included in these squares. And I hope that every year when I hang this sampler on my wall, it reminds me of how good this fall was. (Though I'm not going to might stay up year round. I've got it hanging up now and have no intention of taking it down anytime soon!)

This is the Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery's Autumn Sampler. It was my first time doing anything like this...I signed up early, and at first you only get the patterns for the 25 frames. Then, once a week from the end of September to the end of October, they send you the patterns for five squares. I looked forward to Monday mornings because it was such a nice surprise to open up my email and see what little fall scenes I'd be stitching that week!

It seems like I worked on this sampler for such a long time. :) I tried to average one square every evening because I wanted to keep up each week, but towards the end I got a bit behind. I had forgotten how time-consuming cross stitching is! But I like how orderly and repetitive it is, and I love seeing how a lot of tiny squares come together to form an image.

Since I was investing so much time in this project, I wanted it to look the best I could possibly make it. This was my first time using evenweave fabric instead of regular Aida cloth. Honestly, it definitely took some getting used to! It slowed me down at the beginning because I had to be a lot more careful. But I'm glad I did it because it's a lot more subtle than Aida cloth. I like how it just looks like normal fabric from a distance. I can't remember the brand that I used but I bought it at Hobby Lobby, and it's tea-dyed or something and actually looks a lot more tan/brownish in real life than it does in these pictures. :) All of the floss is just regular DMC, though for once I actually made the effort on this project to separate each strand and then join them back together like you're supposed to. I'm not sure that I can see any difference, but I felt like I was being a neater stitcher, anyway. :)

I have favorite squares from each week, but in general I think week three is my favorite. Sock knitting, an adorable little house, a girl playing in leaves, a cupcake, and the process of an apple pie. So cute! These are some of my favorite squares:

I did make a few small changes to the pattern. The biggest one is that in the original pattern, each square is numbered. I thought that made it look like a calendar, but then it didn't make sense because there aren't just 25 days in any month, of course! :) So I left out the numbers, and then I had to make slight changes to a few squares because there was an odd empty space without the numbers. For example, I rearranged the pencils a bit and made one of the trees taller in the house one. The rest of the changes I made were just personal preferences: I changed the circular needles in the sock scenes to DPNs because when I knit socks I use those instead of a circular. I changed the pumpkin spice latte to hot chocolate because I don't drink coffee (and I don't like pumpkin-flavored things). And I added in the mountains square. There was originally a pomegranate there, and since I've never tasted one in my life, I felt a bit odd stitching one. Fall always makes me think of the day trip that my family takes into the Blue Ridge Mountains and riding on the parkway, so I decided to stitch in some of those mountains. :) I love how the actual mountains turned out, but my attempt at the fall foliage in the trees is a bit iffy. Oh, well.

By the way, I'm normally not too crazy about the whole kawaii thing in know, lots of faces on everything? But somehow I didn't mind it here. There are a lot of cute little faces, on the pumpkin pie and the basket of apples and the acorn, etc. I could have left them off, but I ended up rather liking them!

I'm so happy with my sampler! It was definitely a fun experience and the pattern was adorable and well-made. I'll definitely be stitching up more designs from the Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery in the future. The sneak peeks of their new Christmas patterns look ridiculously cute, especially the Christmas on Gingerbread Lane one! I might make that one someday, though I can't imagine ever being able to do it at Christmas time (unless I had miraculously finished all of my gift-making very early!).

{P.S. I have framed my sampler, but I kept getting such a glare on the glass that I had to take it out of the frame to get pictures. The finished sampler is approx. 11 x 11 inches. I found an album cover frame at Target that is approx. 12 x 12. It was black but I painted it dark burgundy, and the sampler fits perfectly inside!}

And now I guess it'll be feeling like Christmas soon! I used to put up my tree and decorations on November 1st, but over the past couple of years I've gotten in the habit of waiting until exactly halfway through the month: November 15th, which will be this Friday. Though I've been really enjoying this fall, it seems like it passed by quickly, so I wasn't sure that I'd be in a Christmas mood by then.

But I've started working on handmade Christmas gifts. The stores I visit most often (Target and Hobby Lobby :) are getting very festive. Mom has been buying new lights for the tree, and I finally bought Elf and The Santa Clause on DVD the other week (I'd only had them on VHS up until now).

I always listen to Christmas music for the first time of the season while I'm putting up my tree. I think that a couple of songs from a Sinatra Christmas album will be all I need to bring me into the proper holiday mindset. :)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Morning Song {Music Monday 18}

I realize that this is the third Music Monday recently to feature the Avett Brothers. And if you're not a fan of their music, I apologize. It's just that I've been listening to them so much lately that when I go to choose a song, I automatically gravitate towards them.

{I'll probably start focusing on Christmas music soon, and the Avett Brothers haven't recorded any Christmas music as far as I know, so that might make you guys feel better. :) }

I really love this's definitely one of my favorites from their new album.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Project 360: Week 45

{308} Confession: I love middle grade books. Especially quirky-sounding ones with interesting covers.

{309} I built this bookcase myself! :) Of course, it's just one of those cheap, easy assembly ones from Target, but still. My dad normally puts these together for me, but he was hunting a lot this week and I was anxious to get it up. The obsessive side of me is so thrilled that my classic movies are finally organized chronologically (except for the boxed sets).

{310} Evening moon.

{311} Collecting and pressing pretty leaves.

{312} I finished knitting this cowl this week! More on that in a later post.

{313} See above: number 308. :) I found this one at Ollie's for $1.99.

{314} A peek at my finished fall sampler! I'll post more about it later this week.