Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Night Circus

I just finished the most amazing book called The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I don't normally read a book just because it's popular, but this book is worth all the hype. I love that novels in the Victorian era are becoming more prevalent, but this one is impressive because it is really different from anything I've read before. I really love that this book has an overall air of mystery, the story is not told linearly (the story skips forward and backwards in time until it converges at the end of the book), and she ties together all the ends very neatly after the climax.

If you love fantasy novels and want something that is suspenseful but still whimsical then this is a fantastic book. The Night Circus has been compared to Harry Potter, which while I think it does have a similar feel to it, this book is unique enough that it will hold you to the end, and familiar enough that is understandable and enjoyable. So if you want a good read, then I highly recommend this book.

Amazon: The Night Circus
The Night Circus Website
Erin Morgenstern's Website

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Beginning of Fall

Fall is definitely my favorite season. I've never really enjoyed the heat of summer and it is always a relief for me when the weather cools and the season changes. I also love that fall marks the beginning of the holiday season. A time when I can enjoy my family, get super creative and be kind of sappy and reminiscent.

Pumpkin is the other wonderful thing about fall. The season brings out my favorite flavor with pies, lattes and muffins galore. Yum yum yum. So thank you fall for once again gracing me with your delightful presence.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Craft Lit Podcast

Do you love to craft? Do you love to read? Would you love to read while you craft? One of the best ways I do this is by listening to the podcast CraftLit. I was first turned on to this podcast when I was looking for crafting podcasts and then I was drawn in by the literature aspect. I love to read but I found after being forced to read classics in school I was completely turned off by most of them. But this podcast has helped me discover a great passion for classic books and I am devouring all that I can.

The best aspect of CraftLit is that you can listen to it while you are doing other things. I love to do crafty things while I listen, but it's also such a great way to pass the time when I'm doing housework or am at the gym. Heather Ordover, the host, always has such interesting things to talk about and I have learned more from her about many of the books than I did when I was in high-school.

It's really refreshing to be able to absorb literature when I am so busy. I love the fact that I can reference the books that I've read and understand the origins of much of our contemporary references and media. So if you are interested in books, or even if you just really need to read a particular book I would really encourage you to check this podcast out. You can either listen to the original podcasts with all the crafty info or you can listen to the sister podcast that is is just the books.

Currently, just in time for Halloween, the book being read is Dracula by Bram Stoker. Not a book I would normally read on my own, but I am excited to learn where a large part of our modern vampire lore comes from.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Smell the Roses Pt. 2

Another batch of photos to show how beautiful nature can be if you take the time to look.

Up Up and Away

Even though I have lived in Reno all my life, this is only the third time I've ever seen Dawn Patrol at the Reno Balloon Races. But every time I do it takes my breath away. There is a certain kind of glamour in seeing a hot air balloon light up the predawn that is almost magical.

This year seems to have had a lot more interesting shaped balloons. The last couple years have been a bit disappointing. But aren't the kaleidoscope of colors against our lovely Nevada sky beautiful? It is a highlight of the year to get up in the morning and see the sky filled with rainbows.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Walk like an Egyptian

I saw this sarcophagus at a museum exhibit and I absolutely love it. It belonged to the Egyptian prince Pa-seba-khai-en-ipet who paid a pretty penny before his death to have his coffin painted. It was created somewhere between 1075-945 B.C.E. and made from wood pinned together with pegs, plastered over and gessoed. Depicting various deities and aspects of the afterlife the colorful images give a really great insight into Egyptian aesthetic.

Because I was at the exhibit with the intent of learning about Egyptian fashion, I was very excited to examine this artifact. The images below show two women wearing gorgeous patterned dresses. It is possible that this is an open-work beaded dress on top of a typical linen wrap dress.


Some other things I noticed about the images were the shape of the clothing (very form fitting) and the difference between our modern idea of modesty and the ancient Egyptians. For example, some of the images depict women with their chests uncovered. The accessories are also amazing, notice the patterned girdles, jewelry and shawls.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Ancient Aliens

I was able to visit an Egyptian exhibit at my local art museum recently. The exhibit mostly consisted of artifacts from Egyptian tombs but I was pleased to discover that the whole back wall was a great Science Fiction mural. The quote on the wall said that it was based on the works of Science Fiction author Bruce Sterling. The mural was a fabulous rendition of egypt from a Sci-fi perspective, complete with flying saucers over the great pyramids. The art style was like a cave or chalk sketch but it almost looked like a blueprint and there were little captions all around describing aspects of the image. It was a bit more impressive in person than the photos because the room was large and dark and the mural spanned a tilted (almost like being inside a pyramid) wall across one whole side. Anyway, I wanted to share, it's not often I see something so wonderfly geeky at our art museum.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Mochi Mochi

Last year when we were in San Francisco we found this really great Japanese sweets shop. It was a bit pricey but they had some of the best mochi I've ever had. Mochi is Japanese glutinous rice pounded into paste and molded into a shape. You can get a lot of different flavors and I tried the sakura (cherry blossom) flavor. It was pink and yummy. The whole place was adorable and worth seeing even if you don't try anything.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

School Daze

So my first day of fall semester is officially over. I made it and I wasn't eaten by any freshmen. Tomorrow starts pre sixteenth century fashion history. The teacher already has a great link up which I wanted to share with everyone. It's to an exciting exhibit that was at the Fine Arts museum of San Francisco. Titled Pulp Fashion: The Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave the exhibit features gorgeous gowns and costumes made from painted rag paper. They are so incredible you would never know they weren't fabric from the photos. What's also impressive about these costumes is that all the patterns on the paper are hand painted and the whole costume is a real work of art. Check it out, it's really awesome.

Make sure and take a look at the videos on the right hand sidebar. They give you an in-depth look at how she creates her costumes and where her inspiration comes from. The videos also show her collection in much greater detail.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Rose Daughter

One of my favorite fantasy books is Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley. Ok, I have to say I really love this book. It isn't new or popular but it's a book that I've been turning to for a good comfort story since I was young. Even on the night of my wedding I turned to this book to help me with all my stress so that I could sleep and be ready for my big day.

So why do I love this book? Well first of all it's because Robin McKinley is a fabulous author. I haven't really read anything by her that I didn't love. She knows how to spin a wonderful fairytale without talking down to you or going above your head. Her heroines are lovable and relatable and yet have flaws that make them interesting and realistic.

Rose Daughter is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Of all the fairytale retellings this is by far my favorite because it fleshes out the story and yet weaves it into something timeless and more in depth than the original tale. Maybe it's because the main character (Beauty) is kind, resilient and self reliant with a soft spot for plants (roses in particular). Or maybe its because none of the characters are black and white, her sisters for example are vain and selfish but not evil. Or it could also be that the way magic works in her world is interesting and enjoyable. Whatever the reason I can never put the book down when I start to read it.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Pulled out a plum

Today my craft adventure was trying out a new baking recipe. I am a subscriber to the Renaissance Magazine which full of fabulous historical information about the Renaissance and Middle Ages as well as reenactments. Issue number 80 contained a great recipe for plum bread in which you can use fresh or canned plums.

Because I have been recently frequenting the farmers markets I had a whole batch of plums that were becoming overripe. And just like bananas making bread out of them is such a great way to keep them from going to waste. I pretty much followed the recipe except that I used blackberry brandy. I just happened to have caraway seeds, and  they do give the bread an interesting twist. And I must say that the resulting bread was really yummy.

Plumb Bread
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp caraway seeds (optional)
1 can crushed plumbs (or fresh, if in season)
Nutmeg (to taste - start with a pinch)
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup brandy (or cream)

Cream together the butter and sugar. Gradually add beaten eggs. ix in the caraway seed, plumbs, and the nutmeg. Add the flour (sifted) along with the baking powder. Add the brandy or cream. Toss it in the oven at 400 degrees for one hour.

Renaissance Magazine Issue 80
Renaissance Magazine

Thursday, August 25, 2011

End of summer

One week left until college classes start again. This is a bit bitter sweet for me because I'm really enjoying my free-time this summer. But I love going to class and am really looking forward to this semester. For the fall I am taking my typical Japanese language courses and getting ready for Nagasaki.

But the best part of this year will be my art classes. Firstly I am continuing fiber art which I loved last semester. I can't wait to learn some new techniques! Also, I'll be taking a fashion history course, but it's in the art department, same teacher as fiber art. I don't know much about it but I love the teacher.

I definitely think I will be cranking out some great crafty stuff very soon. Last semester I felt like I was just getting started. This semester I'm feeling really inspired.