Friday, January 27, 2017

The Rescuers Down Under {1990}

{Animated Disney Film #29 of 56}

Honestly, this movie is the reason why my Disney movie plans got derailed. I had it in my Netflix queue, but it became unavailable on there, and I couldn't find it anywhere. (I didn't want to pay for a copy because I wasn't sure if I'd like it or not.) I didn't know how I was going to watch it, and I didn't want to move on with the list until I did. Finally I found the movie on YouTube. (The version I watched cut off a couple of minutes before the end, so I had to find another upload to watch those last few minutes.)

The Rescuers Down Under is basically what it sounds like: a sequel to 1977's The Rescuers set in Australia. (That was fun, because I went through a stage as a young teenager when I was obsessed with Australia, thanks to the Newsboys.) The plots are even very similar: a child is kidnapped by a villain who wants to use them to find something they want. But being set in Australia, this one is much more of an adventure story.

Bob Newhart and Eva Gabor reprised their voice roles as the two main rescuers: Bernard and Bianca. The sound quality on the video I was watching was so bad that I didn't even recognize them as the same voices at first, ha. The distortion also made the kid sound like he was about 4 years old, so I had a hard time imagining him doing all of the adventurous things he does. (Apparently the boy who did the voice for Cody was Norwegian?) My favorite character was probably the albatross...just like in the first movie. :) Although they're technically different albatrosses, cousins or brothers or something.

The villain, an incredibly creepy poacher, is voiced by George C. Scott. I don't know what it is, but I usually find the villain in a somewhat realistic setting so much worse than those in fantastical stories. (I know the animals talk, but otherwise it's more realistic than a lot of other Disney movies.) It started off with the disturbing way he pulled Cody out of his trap, by having him grab hold of a gun barrel to climb out. But then it escalated quickly, with a kidnapping, and ended up with the kid dangling over crocodile infested waters. (What is it with crocodiles in these movies, by the way?)

There were no songs in this movie, and I was glad of that. I love good Disney songs, but honestly the songs were my least favorite part of the original Rescuers movie, so I didn't miss them at all here. They were originally planned but were felt to be out of place, and I'd agree. :)

The Rescuers Down Under marks a change in the way Disney movies were made: it was the first animated film where all of the final elements were assembled and completed digitally, using the CAPS process (which was Disney's first collaboration with Pixar!). This movie was actually the least successful, box office wise, of the "Disney renaissance" films. That's a big contrast to the original film, which was Disney's most successful film to date at the time it was released.

So overall, I enjoyed this movie, even though it's not a new favorite. It was exciting and held my interest, and there were some funny moments. But I think I would have enjoyed it more if I'd been watching a better quality video!

Next up on the list is my absolute favorite Disney movie: Beauty and the Beast. I can't wait! :)

Do you like The Rescuers Down Under? Which do you prefer: the original one or this sequel?

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Weaving: my first attempt.

Last year I picked out a small, basic lap loom for Christmas. (I got it from an Etsy shop, but it seems they're no longer in business.) I started practicing on it once last year, but then didn't pick it back up again. One of my resolutions in 2017 is to learn the basics of weaving, so with that fresh in my mind, I cut out what I'd started last year and made myself a wall hanging. :)

I used two tutorials to help me out: this one from Karen at Fringe Association and this one. I'm pretty comfortable with the actual weaving part now, I just need to work on making my edges more uniform. And the whole process of getting the piece off the loom stressed me out, because I wove so close to the bottom edge that when I cut the strands, there wasn't much to tie there. I think I've figured out something different to try next time to make that go a little more smoothly.

I keep a lot of my yarn scraps, especially handspun yarn. So I used some of my favorite scraps for this, and I tried to stick with a sort of brown/blue/hot pink color scheme. I didn't intend on making that middle section so wide, but it was handspun left from a skein I sold, and the color changes looked so pretty that I had to keep going. :)

So I don't think weaving is going to be my new thing, but it was fun to spend a few hours one afternoon working on this tacky little wall hanging! I'll probably make one every few months or so, and eventually it might be nice to have a few of them to sell at craft fairs, too.

{I didn't have a wooden dowel, but I do have a jar full of straight knitting needles that I don't use, and hey, it works! Also, my room is dark, especially the corner where this weaving is hanging, so that's why the pictures are of it hanging on a tree instead, ha.}

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Yarn Along

Reading: The Shepherd's Life, by James Rebanks. I've been wanting to read this book for a while, because I'm very interested in the Lake District and sheep and fiber things in general (obviously). At the beginning, it wasn't quite as amazing as I'd hoped, but now that I'm halfway through I'm liking it more.

Knitting: My Germinate shawl. It's grown a lot since the last time I posted about it. I'm working on the last stripe section now, and then I'll have only one more lace section until it's finished. The lace already looks very nice, I can't wait to block it! (There's something you'll never hear me say. Only with lace.)

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

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Little Mermaid {1989}

{Animated Disney Film #28 of 56}

Remember how I was doing that series where I watched all of the animated Disney movies and reviewed them? Oh yeah. It had probably slipped your mind, just like it (apparently) did mine. It's been almost two years since the last one. But I do want to finish the list, so I'm going to try to get back on track. I actually watched The Little Mermaid about six months ago with the intention of reviewing it then, but I was watching with two little girls, so you can imagine it was difficult to jot down notes. This past week I finally took the time to watch it again.

I really loved The Little Mermaid as a kid. I was born in 1991 so it was one of those Disney movies made between the late 80s and mid-90s that was prominent during my childhood. I remember lots of mermaid-themed merchandise (like an indoor play tent and a little table with chairs). But it's not one that I've watched often as an adult, so I was curious how I'd feel about it.

My main thought about this movie now: Wow, Ariel is really annoying! I know she's only supposed to be like 16 years old, so I guess she has the angsty teenage thing going on. But she really just comes across as a spoiled brat. She's the youngest daughter, and apparently the favorite of her father, since the other sisters are given no personalities at all. And even though Disney princess movies are well known for featuring love-at-first-sight/"instalove," it seems worse in this one. Ariel doesn't even know Prince Eric. She sees him once (not even having a conversation with him, mind you) and becomes obsessed. Then the next thing you know, she's risking everything for the chance he might like her.

Disliking Ariel so much now might have tainted my opinion of the film a little. But I still ended up enjoying it. The supporting characters are so interesting and entertaining that it makes up for Ariel and Eric. My personal favorite is Scuttle, the seagull voiced by Buddy Hackett. He is such a goober, and he cracks me up. Sebastian is also hilarious. And Ursula is so creepy...she reminds me in a way of a deranged, underwater Cruella De Vil. Surprisingly there aren't many well known actors among the voices. (Though apparently Jim Carrey auditioned for the voice of Prince Eric? What? Ha, maybe then Eric would've been a bit more interesting.)

The music in The Little Mermaid is amazing. Of course it is, because it's Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, who wrote some of my favorite Disney songs. Honestly, I love all of the songs in the movie. (And now I'm sure I'll have them stuck in my head for days.) I had never noticed it before, but the chef's song reminds me of Be Our Guest from Beauty and the Beast. The tune sounds similar, but then they're both sung in heavy French accents so that could be part of it. :)

The animation is nice, though for me it's not one of the most memorable aspects of the film. I have to admit that Eric's oceanfront castle is pretty beautiful! And the Kiss the Girl scene is visually lovely, too. The dramatic scene at the end is done really well. Of course I know how everything turns out, but it was still intense!

I'll probably always enjoy The Little Mermaid for nostalgic reasons. And despite Ariel's obnoxiousness, it is a good film. Even if it's not a favorite, I can still respect that it was the beginning of the "Disney Renaissance" and all of those 90s Disney classics. :) I've read that Disney was planning to adapt this story as far back as when Snow White was released! It took a long time to happen, but I think it came at the right time.

Up next is one I've never seen before: The Rescuers Down Under. I'm having trouble finding a copy of this one, but I think I've finally found a way to watch it. So hopefully it won't be too long now! :)
How do you feel about The Little Mermaid? Does Ariel win the "Most Annoying Princess" award or should it go to someone else?

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Knitting: Pixel Rise socks.

My Pixel Rise socks are finally finished! They've been a long time coming. I loved this pattern when it first came out last summer, and I cast on the socks around the end of August. I quickly finished the first sock...quickly because they are incredibly addictive to knit, and also because I wanted to have one done to enter in the knit-along giveaway. :) Then I got several inches into the second sock before I had to put it aside to knit other things: craft fair inventory, Christmas gifts, etc.

Last week I picked the sock back up and had it finished in no time. This is only my second real colorwork project (my first is here), but this pattern is incredibly easy. And like I said, addicting. It's like knitting with self-striping yarn: you keep telling yourself, just one more stripe.

The pattern is written toe-up, and I knit my socks cuff down. So I basically just flipped the chart, and I used this as an opportunity to try out the Smooth Operator Socks pattern. I used the toe decreases and the afterthought heel from that pattern. This was my first afterthought heel! It was generally easier than I expected, and oddly satisfying, but I had some trouble getting mine to fit properly. I had to decrease quicker because the heel was turning out too long. I thought I noted all of my changes but apparently not, because after waiting months to knit the second heel, it's somehow a few rows longer and therefore a bit loose. But it's not enough of an issue for me to take out the heel and start over! (More detailed notes on my project page, linked below.)

I used a combination of leftovers from other projects and a few new Gnome Acres mini skeins. (I sometimes buy one of their grab bags to use in my sock scrap blanket.) I didn't really plan out my colors as I added them, other than not to put similar colors too close. But maybe I should have planned a little better. I love how the colors look on the leg, but I really wish I'd replaced the yellow in the foot with something more subtle.

Ravelry project page.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Recently acquired books (Christmas gifts and otherwise).

I usually get books for Christmas, so I thought I'd share which ones I got this year. My parents and grandparents know that I love books but don't know which ones I have, don't have, or want. Which means that I end up picking out books throughout the year for them to give me. (And I love hunting for cheap books, so most of these came from Book Outlet.)

Sense and Sensibility. This is a beautiful little 1940s British edition that my boyfriend gave me! Kenny is really good at picking out gifts, and I'm a little jealous of that skill. (Some other things he gave me: a TARDIS umbrella, a Sherlock pillow, the Jane Austen action figure...see what I mean?)

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. I love Jane Eyre and hate Wuthering Heights, so I'm curious to see what I think of Anne Bronte's writing. I picked out this Vintage Classics edition from Book Depository because it's really pretty.

Salt to the Sea. I've enjoyed Ruta Sepetys' other novels, and I'm hoping to enjoy this one too!

Raising Demons. I can't wait to read more Shirley Jackson this year, even though this memoir about her life as a mother and housewife will be different from her usual work.

My Life in Middlemarch. A bookish memoir, but I have to actually read Middlemarch first. :)

The Unmapped Sea. The newest book in the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series, which I've really enjoyed but I'm sort of ready to be over. (How much longer must the mystery drag on?)

Stars Above. Short stories from one of my favorite YA series: the Lunar Chronicles. I've already read some of these, I think.

The Rabbit Back Literature Society. A random Finnish book that I was drawn to because of the cover. :)

The Cuckoo's Calling. Even though I hated The Casual Vacancy, I love mysteries so I'm interested to see how J.K. Rowling writes them.

The Red and the Black. Another gift from Kenny. It's a nice 1940s copy of a book that he enjoyed and thinks I will like too.

Before Christmas, I stumbled across some good deals (the Book Outlet Black Friday sale always gets me). Here are the books I purchased recently:
Miss Jane. I don't often buy random books, but this one was definitely an impulse buy. I saw it somewhere online, with its gorgeous cover, and it had good reviews. When I saw that Book Depository had it for about $6 cheaper than Amazon, I ordered it.
Life Among the Savages. The first of Shirley Jackson's memoirs, which I had to get and read before Raising Demons. Obviously. :)
How the Heather Looks. I've been wanting to read this book for the longest time! It's about a family that traveled around England (in the 50s, I think, maybe the 60s?) to visit locations from classic English children's stories. That sounds right up my alley.
A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings. I was so surprised that Kenny found this Penguin clothbound edition while we were looking around in our local Goodwill! I love these editions but I've never actually seem them in a store, I've always had to order them. And it only cost $1.
Raymie Nightingale. Kate DiCamillo's newest book, which I've been wanting to read since it was released. Target had it on sale after Thanksgiving.
Relish: My Life in the Kitchen. I've enjoyed two others of Lucy Knisley's graphic novel memoirs lately, and I thought this one might inspire me to learn how to cook. :)
Something New. One of the previously mentioned graphic novel memoirs that I really enjoyed. These are kind of expensive, so I was glad to find them on Book Outlet for a few dollars.
The Wolf Wilder. Another mostly-for-the-cover buy, but it sounds interesting. I think it's middle grade, too.
Talking as Fast as I Can. I'm a big Gilmore Girls fan, so I'm excited to read this memoir! I'm waiting until after I watch the Netflix revival series, though, in case of spoilers.
(And this, you guys, explains why I'm mysteriously never able to make a dent in my list of own-but-unread books! I've put myself on a book buying ban for the foreseeable future. Because, you know, that's worked out so well before.)

Thursday, January 5, 2017

My 2017 resolutions.

If you've been around here a while, you'll know that I like to make resolutions every year. Even though I'm not the greatest at keeping them. :) There's just something really nice and exciting about a new year that makes me want to do better! I used to make huge, overwhelming lists of resolutions, but by this point, I've found that it works better for me to make smaller, more specific lists.


-Read 60 books. I think this is a good number for me. But if I read more, obviously I'll be okay with that, too. :)
-Get my own-but-unread books down to 100. This will definitely be a struggle for me because I love books and I love to buy books. (Cheap ones, which I can justify, but hello, they still take up the same amount of space on my shelves.) I currently own about 150 books that I haven't read yet (yes, it's ridiculous). So theoretically I could get the number down to 100 this year, while still allowing for a few rereads or new purchases.
-Read 5 new-to-me classics. I did this goal in 2015 and really enjoyed it...those five books were among my favorites of that year. I do have a few older books that I'd like to read for this goal, but modern classics definitely count, too.
-Read a really big book. I want to pick one that I've been putting off because it's so long. I don't know which it'll be yet, but I'm learning towards East of Eden or Middlemarch. (Either of those would count towards reading a classic too, ha.)


-Knit myself two sweaters. Sweaters are the one area lacking when it comes to things I've knitted for myself.
-Do more natural dyeing. I did so much in 2015, but last year I was very unprepared. And with natural dyeing, you have to be ready whenever the plants are ready!
-Learn the basics of weaving. On my little, basic lap loom.
-Be prepared. This just means not waiting until the last minute to knit craft fair inventory, gifts, etc. I need to plan ahead.
-Spin yarn from my own sheep and knit something with it. If all goes as planned, my sheep will be sheared this spring. I'd love to have a finished project knitted from their fiber by the end of the year!


-Sew a new quilt for my bed. Carrying this one over from last year. I want to use up most of my random fabric scraps.
-Start sewing a pair of jeans. I will count any bit of progress towards this goal, even if I just print out and assemble the pattern (it's a PDF)! Any little step towards sewing my own jeans will make me happy.

Well, this list was a little longer than I expected. :) I do have two other goals that don't fit into the above categories. I want to learn how to cook. For some reason, cooking is super intimidating to me. (Plus I'm a klutz- knives and ovens make me nervous.) I also want to continue saving money. I managed to save $1500 last year, which I'm very proud of! I know it might not sound like much, but on a babysitter's salary, it's quite a bit for me. :)

Do you make resolutions? What are some of yours for 2017?

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Yarn Along

Reading: The Sea of Monsters, by Rick Riordan. It seems I just want to read memoirs lately...I have several of them that I'm very excited about, but I want to stretch them out a bit. So I decided to pick up the second book in the Percy Jackson series in between.

Knitting: A Germinate shawl. I saw this shawl in this color scheme (orange, gray, and dark purple) years ago and have wanted to knit it ever since. When I realized that I had the exact yarn I needed in my stash (all purchased at the same time, but intended for different projects), I had no excuse not to start it. These colors together are very different from what I'd normally knit, but I think I'm going to love it. I'm in the second lace section now.

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