Saturday, November 22, 2014

Knitting: autumnal mitts.

For a long time now, I'd been planning on making these mitts this fall. Then I found a skein of orange Madelinetosh tosh dk at the yarn shop a couple of months ago (the colorway is called citrus) and I knew it would fit perfectly with the pattern. It is a bit brighter than I would normally choose, but it's really gorgeous in person and has a lot of nice variation in the color.

{I organized my drawer of handknits the other day and noticed that almost all of my most-worn accessories, cowls and mitts and such, are made from Madelinetosh yarn. Their colors are just so perfect.}

I love how these turned out...this is one of those patterns that looks much more difficult than it is. :) My only regret is that I didn't add an extra repeat or two at the wrists. I thought they were plenty long enough, and they are, except it seems that my coat sleeves are even shorter than I remember them being last winter. (Though I'm sure my arms aren't still growing, ha!)

{Ravelry project page}

Friday, November 21, 2014

The bookshelf challenge.

I love bookish tags, because sometimes it's nice to hear people's opinions on books in a format other than a review. When I saw Hannah do the Bookshelf Challenge, I shamelessly stole the idea even though I wasn't tagged. :) {She answered the questions in a vlog, which was adorable and awesome. But if I attempted a vlog, it would just be awkward for me and you guys, so you're welcome.}

Here we go...

1. Is there a book that you really want to read but haven't because you know that it will make you cry?

The only thing that comes to mind is Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck. I love the idea of Steinbeck's books, but when I tried to read East of Eden several years ago, I never made it past the first couple of pages. (I like the movie, depressing as it is.) One day I'll try again, but for now I think I'll start with the much shorter Of Mice and Men. I've heard that the end is sad, though, so I'm a bit reluctant to read it. I have to be in a certain mood for a sad book.

2. Pick one book that helped introduce you to a new genre.

Across the Universe, by Beth Revis. It's the first book in a YA sci-fi trilogy that I enjoyed. This was the first real experience I had with sci-fi in any way: book, film, or TV. I still don't see sci-fi as a genre that I will read often (if ever), but I think reading this book before I started watching Doctor Who made me more open to the sci-fi-ness of that show. :)

3. Find a book that you want to reread.

I really want to finish reading the Wildwood trilogy, but I want to reread the first two books before I pick up the third one because it's been quite a while since I read them. I was a bit disappointed with Wildwood, but I absolutely loved the second one. Aren't these books just gorgeous? The covers, the spines, the illustrations inside...they're some of the prettiest books I've ever seen.

4. Is there a book series you read but wish you hadn't?

There are very few books that I wish I hadn't read, even if I hated them. At least now I know that I don't like them so I won't ever waste my time with reading them again! :) For this question I picked the Matched trilogy, by Ally Condie. It's not that I wish I hadn't read these books, but overall I'm just really disappointed with them. When I read the first book, I liked it a lot. Later, when I went back to reread it and to complete the series, it wasn't nearly as good as I remembered, and the next two books just got worse. Compared to the other dystopian YA I was reading at the time (like the Hunger Games and the Across the Universe trilogy), these were just dull.

5. If your house were burning down and all of your family and pets were safe, which book would you go back inside to save?

Despite the fact that I would never go back inside a burning house for a book (I'm obsessive about my books but I'm not dumb :), there's only one answer for me here: my Chronicles of Narnia box set. Yes, these ugly, beat-up editions from the 70s. They're my favorite books and these copies have sentimental value to me. Plus, they're actually numbered in the correct order (I'm forever an advocate for publication order over chronological order!), unlike those shiny modern sets. :)

6. Is there one book on your bookshelf that brings back fond memories?

Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine. It was my favorite book for the longest time, and it's still a favorite. It made me a lifelong fan of fairy tales and of Levine's books.

7. Find a book that has inspired you the most.

The first thing that came to mind for this question was Pride and Prejudice, though it doesn't make much sense. I don't know why it has inspired me...basically, I just love this story to pieces. It makes me laugh and cry and I feel like I personally know the characters, so I guess that's pretty inspiring?

8. Do you have any autographed books?

Yes, though I haven't met any of these authors. When I bought The Fault in Our Stars at Sam's several years ago, it was an autographed edition, though John Green's signature is nothing but an indecipherable scribble. I bought Darwen Arkwright and the Peregrine Pact at a bargain store, and it was also autographed. (It sounds interesting and I like the cover, but I still haven't read it yet.) The only of these that's actually special is A Snicker of Magic, because it's personalized from the sweet author, Natalie Lloyd.

9. Find the book that you have owned the longest.

On my shelf, it's probably these Judy Blume books, which I've owned since elementary school. I probably have some American Girl or Babysitter's Club books packed away upstairs that I've had longer, but these are the ones I could put my hands on.

10. Is there a book by an author that you never imagined that you would read or enjoy?

Growing up, I only had a vague idea of who Julia Child was...she was that tall lady who cooked and had an unusual voice. About three years ago, I went through a phase of reading travel memoirs, especially ones set in Paris. I stumbled across Julia Child's My Life in France and decided to read it, even though my interest in cooking is pretty low. (I know I need to learn but honestly I'm much more interested in fiber than food. Except desserts. I love dessert. :) I didn't expect to like it, but I loved it. Even with all of the emphasis on cooking and foods that I've never even heard of, it was such a good book. It's still one of my favorite memoirs. (And now I'm sort of fascinated with Julia Child.)

So that's the bookshelf challenge! If any of you guys want to participate, I'd love to hear your responses. :)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Knitting: handspun fall Barley hat.

Since this yarn spun up so quickly, it seemed only fitting that it was knitted up quickly, too. This was just the sort of fast project that I needed before I got serious about working on Christmas gifts...except for the ribbing (which I'd done the night before), I finished this hat in a day.

The yarn is my most recent handspun. I knew there would be stripes, but I thought they'd be more subtle. I was pleasantly surprised by how much color came out of this yarn! Like those stripes of light blue-ish gray. I definitely wasn't expecting that.

I used the Barley pattern, which is so wonderfully simple. This is the eleventh Barley I've made this year, but the first one for myself (the rest were to sell at the craft fair). I have noticed that the sizes in this pattern tend to run a bit large, but it might just be me and my gauge. According to the pattern, the adult large size is for a 23" head. My head is 24 inches (don't laugh- I know I've got a big head!), and the large size is too big for me. The small is a bit too tight, so for this hat, I did the medium size, and it's perfect. Maybe a bit slouchier around the crown than I expected, but that's fine.

I'm counting this towards the "Baby, It's Cold Outside" category of FESA. I haven't followed through with many of my plans, but I do have about four other entries to blog about and I'm hoping to finish a couple more before the end of the month. :)

{Ravelry project page}

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Princess Spy.

I love fairy tales, historical fiction, and Christian fiction, so it makes sense that I enjoy Melanie Dickerson's books! I read her first two and enjoyed them both, though I think I liked The Merchant's Daughter a bit more because I'm partial to Beauty and the Beast retellings. I own her third and fourth books but haven't gotten around to reading them yet. When I saw that her latest book, The Princess Spy, was being offered for review, I jumped at the chance to read it.

Even if I had never read any of her books before, I would have been drawn in by this beautiful cover. Her books always have lovely covers, but this is possibly my favorite of them so far. For some reason it reminds me of the Lord of the Rings...maybe it's all of the green and her dress, but it makes me think of Rivendell.

I think that Melanie Dickerson does a really job of expanding fairy tales into historical fiction. This book was apparently inspired by The Frog Prince. That's not a fairy tale that I'm extremely familiar with...I know the basics and could see a few references to it in this book, but I was probably missing some of the more subtle ones. :) But the historical setting of the story felt very realistic.

The characters were likable, if a bit vague. Margaretha's main characteristic is that she talks too much, and Colin's is that he's seeking revenge against a cruel man, and those two traits are dwelled on quite a bit. Still, their friendship and concern for each other was sweet.

As with Melanie Dickerson's other books, there are some little flaws that bother me. The writing can be a bit awkward and repetitive, and the dialogue tries a little too hard to sound old-fashioned while still feeling too modern at times (she doesn't use contractions but sometimes there will be a phrase that sounds much too modern for the time period). Oh, and the title to this book is a bit misleading. The "spying" scene only lasts a page or two and she never spies again, so it wasn't exactly what I expected. Despite that, I enjoyed this book so much, and I look forward to reading the rest of her stories! :)

By the way, I just wanted to mention that the characters in the books are connected to those in her other books. It's not exactly a "series" in the strictest sense, so it's not necessary for you to read them in order. But there are recurring characters from previous books, and you might be spoiled to their plotlines if you skip books. For example, after reading this book, I now know what couples ended up together in The Fairest Beauty and The Captive Maiden, though that's not going to stop me from reading those books. :) I wish I had been able to read them in order, but it didn't work out. Just a little heads up in case you don't want to be spoiled!

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

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Glass Bottom Boat {1966}

Last week I was watching TCM at my grandparents' house (I don't want cable or satellite TV, but goodness, I'd love to get that channel), and I started watching The Glass Bottom Boat. I wasn't expecting much, to be honest, but I was pleasantly surprised! And then we had to leave about 20 minutes before the film ended, so as soon as I got home I added it to my Netflix queue. :)
I feel like Doris Day is such an underrated actress. I'll admit that a lot of her comedies from the 60s feel a little too similar. I've seen several of them, and for me they all tend to run together, with the exception of her films with Rock Hudson (Send Me No Flowers was hilarious!) and now this one. But she could do comedy really well. In this movie in particular, she's a quirky girl who's put in all of these absurd situations, but she always keeps a straight face and she's still so sweet and cheerful and girl-next-door. (Until near the end, anyway, but that's another story, ha.)

The title and movie posters for this one are pretty misleading. I always thought this was a beach comedy or something, but it's not. The title comes from the fact that her father runs a glass bottom boat for tourists, which comes up in the first 10 minutes but then is completely insignificant to the rest of the film.

In fact, this film is one of those 60s movies that includes spies, Soviets, and secret space plans. Plus a little dose of mistaken identity (think North by Northwest or Never a Dull Moment, both of which I love). Sure, I can appreciate films that are timeless, but I also really love films that are firmly set in the time period in which they were made. Even though this movie is a spy spoof, it came from things that were on the minds of a lot of Americans during that time.

The cast is pretty great. Doris Day is lovely, as always, and Rod Taylor is good. (I don't really have an opinion of him, since this was only the second film I've ever seen him in. The first one was The Birds, which I think is Hitchcock's creepiest film, and one that I don't have much interest in seeing again.) Paul Lynde was funny as a mistaken security officer, but probably my favorite character in the whole film was Dom DeLuise as the bumbling Julius Pritter. He was hilarious in a way that was almost a bit too much, but it ended up working well. Basically every scene with him in it cracked me up. As for the rest of the cast, there are a lot of familiar faces from 60s TV and films.

The Glass Bottom Boat is over-the-top, cheesy, slapstick fluff, so if you're not looking for that, then don't even bother watching this movie. But if you can appreciate it for what it is, then you'll probably love it. :) I thought it was so much fun and I love that it doesn't take itself seriously at all.

{I know this was so vague that it can't really be considered a "review," but I didn't want to give too much away since there are several little twists in the plot.}

Have you ever seen The Glass Bottom Boat? What's your favorite Doris Day film?