Saturday, November 19, 2011

Never give up. Or, how Nanowrimo is maybe a little bit like a relationship.

tiny note. If you came to this blog post for the pumpkin spice latte recipe, then scroll all the way down to skip the crazed ramblings of a lunatic trying to compare writing a novel in a month to being married.

She stopped her frantic typing  and dragged her hand down her face laughing dejectedly. " I have no idea what I'm doing right now...oh my gosh, this story is so lame...."

...And welcome to what is commonly called the 12 days remaining blues. Or more likely, I just made that up.

But apparently it's normal to go from thinking "I'm doing great, my story is really coming along, I'm ahead and this is going to be AWESOME!!!" to "this is crap, I can't even believe I'm still bothering to write in this loser of a novel." And yet, I keep writing. Our week three Nanowrimo pep talk came from Chris Cleave, a writer I've never heard of before. He wrote (among other things,) this, to encourage us:
The more I learn about the writing process, the more I suspect that there is no such thing as a bad day at the keyboard. Sometimes you need slow days where you work through a dozen ideas that aren’t destined to fly.
And he went on to say:

The good days are when you perform; the slow days are when you learn to perform better. The only bad days as a writer are the ones when you are too cowardly or too lazy to sit down at the keyboard and give it everything you have. 
This is why I won't give up this hacked up piece of work. I won't stop to try starting a new more miraculous story. I won't allow myself to continue on the line of thought that this story simply wasn't ready to be written and I really ought to simply delve into another work of fiction that's been stewing in my mind lately. No, no no! I will reach 50,000 words before the end of this month, I will I will I will!!!!!

Even if the only thing that this novel writing month activity produces is a better writer (as opposed to an awesome publish worthy novel) then it will have not been for naught.

I'm kind of seeing writing a novel for Nanowrimo like falling in love and getting married. You start the whole process and it's electric and exciting. It pervades your thoughts at all times. You can't wait to get back to writing. Words are flying and things are wonderful. You and your novel are soul mates!

But then you get to know it. You see it's faults and the whole not-so-great-shebang that it is. The more time you spend with your novel, the more you see that it's really just regular, no more special than any other novel you've written or read. In fact, it's probably worse. A lot worse. The characters are all flawed and some of them are doing really, really dumb things. They've taken on problems bigger than they can fix and they're kind of getting under your skin. But you can't go back, because now you're committed. It's half way through the month and to try and find a new more exciting story to write would be very foolish, and very unfair to this novel, as well. Even though that story about alternative early America does sound super awesome and success-worthy, you can't go and try it out while you're committed to this story for November. Now it's not exciting or easy or even going very well, but you can't stop, because you've made this choice. You have to stick to it. You've promised this novel and your love is no longer an option, it's a necessity. You've got to write in it every day if you want this Nanowrimo thing to work! Nanowrimo is hard work, but it's very worth it.
 (Right, isn't that what people always say about marriage?)

Okay, my illustration may be stretching it a little. Because this is really nothing like how my experience of love and marriage as been. It's quite possible that lots of people do have marriages like that - no longer a breeze,  or exciting or heart-pounding and passionate and they actually have to remind themselves of their vows because they think their spouse is so lame and not worth their time that they wonder why they haven't hit the road yet to find someone new and exicitng.... I'm sorry for them, but if they keep sticking to it even after all that, props to them, they're probably better people than I'll ever be.

Because mine is nothing like this. I don't think I could ever possibly find a guy as amazing, wonderful, and awesome as John. We no longer spend whole days making out any more (well, not usually, anyway) and yeah, maybe I'd prefer if John played less video games sometimes. But I know that if I looked for someone else, they'd have some annoying habit too. Everyone's got something wrong with them. (Because we're all sinners and no one except Jesus is perfect.) You pick the bad habits you're willing to put up with...Or rather, you pick the person whose bad habits you're willing to put up with. Like Bob Marley said "Truth is, everyone's gonna hurt you; you just gotta find the ones worth suffering for." Really, video games are a whole lot more preferable to me than some people's flaws. And I actually did know before I said my vows, that John was super duper into video games and I'm (mostly) okay with it. Even with John's video game habit, I still find him the most wonderful guy I've ever met. He's hot and super sweet and forgives a multitude of my own sins and annoying habits. (like asking him to do something he's about to do, which I HONESTLY did not realize he was about to do, but he doesn't believe me. And if he did that to me, I'd probably kill him, because that is seriously annoying.) Soooo....

Somehow this update on my Nanowrimo progress turned into a dissertation on marriage and how it really is nothing like writing a novel during National Novel Writing month....At least from my own perspective of falling in love and getting married. In fact, I wish my experience with this current novel were more like my own marriage, because then I'd be only slightly annoyed or less than satisfied with it some of the time rather than wanting to punch it in the metaphorical face!
Current word count: 35,010
We'll see if I can keep this average up for the next 12 days. pffftttt.

One good thing about today, at least is that I made a Pumpkin Spice latte. And it was awesome. Here are some pictures to prove it.
I kind of did my own thing to make a Pumpkin syrup and then added it to Jim's Organic Coffee Holiday blend flavour along with some heated milk and some freshly made whipped cream. It was delicious. So good in fact, that John claimed it "barely even tastes like coffee!" it was that good. I used these two recipes as guides and inspiration. (there were others, but I can no longer find them.)
Pumpkin Syrup by SaavyEat
Pumpkin Spice Latte by A Full Measure of Happiness (whose blog I totally love)

I put a lot of cardamom in mine and it made it taste very chai-ish. Which I loved. It made my crappy writing day a little better. Hope it makes yours a little better too. Cheers.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Is email a thing of the past?

Caution: This may get a little ranty.

So about a month ago I deactivated my facebook because I felt it was encouraging superficial and shallow relationships amongst other things. I decided that from now on, when I want to get in touch with someone I'd call them or write them a real email, one with substance and quality. And I have several friends with whom I correspond using real mail also, so that's great. But I'm not much of a phone-caller. Unless it's a to the point phone call to establish some meeting or verify information I find phone calls a little awkward and they tend to make my ears get irritated. There's a few people I make the effort for and I really ought to try more on this, but really a letter or a real life hang out are better for me.

Sometimes, though, hanging out in real life is not possible and most people I know wouldn't have the time or self discipline to really have a snail-mail correspondence, so I don't expect it of them. Instead, I'll use email. Right? It's quick to type up something and sooooo easy. Everyone checks their email every day! Some people check it multiple times, supposedly.  I mean...I probably check mine at least 3 times a week and maybe even a little more since I don't have a facebook account anymore. So this should be a great way to keep in touch, right? In the past few weeks I've thought of several people I wanted to re-establish relationships with or just thought I'd send them a nice email to stay in touch....

 And not a single one has responded...

I understand that whole "I am so happy to get an email from this person and I want to respond but I don't have time right now, so I will later..." And then forgetting until a couple days later... But this has been a few weeks now. It makes me wonder. Does anyone even check their email anymore? Maybe I've sent these emails and no one has even seen them because they only look at their facebooks... Could it be? Is email a thing of the past?

Maybe in order to actually keep in touch with people I'll need to reactivate my facebook. I shudder to think of it. Facebook is a tool that can be used properly or improperly. Unfortunately, since everyone is connected you are subjugated to everyone's views on how it should be used. If one person feels that their facebook is the place where you badmouth your friends even though you'd never say anything of the sort to their face or if they think it's where they hold their family feud, yes their family and friends see it, but so do I. And I kinda don't want to. If someone feels that facebook is where you express your dislike of all your self-portraits (you know, the kind where you obviously just snapped some random nasty photo of yourself to immediately upload  for everyone in the world to see), then I have to see that person's self-loathing too, even though I disagree.

In my personal opinion *insert pompous attitude here*, facebook should not be the place where you air your life's problems and how much you hate the world, or tell people how great your boobs look or even update everyone on the humdrum moments of every minute of your life. You wouldn't include stuff like that in a phone call or email, would you? My facebook friends pool was small. I limited it to 42 people and a large margin of that number were family. Immediate family, even. And yet, since I had to see what their friends were saying, I felt like I was being informed of everything ever, and some of it I didn't want to know. Plus, seeing strange boys outrageously flirt with my sisters and then claiming no they weren't flirting, they just wanted my sister to know she had super hot legs, was really irritating. And I also didn't want to see all those hot prima-donna photos my little sisters were posting for all kinds of weirdos to see. It's still happening, but at least I'm not seeing it. And don't even get me started about...right, nevermind. Should not be aired on the internet, right? Just, the amount of people I deleted because friends of their friends of friends and so on and so forth were just nasty and creepy.

So I feel like I'm suddenly out of the loop. I do have this blog so those of my real fans (lol) can still see what I'm up to (when I actually post.) But since no one ever comments to tell me what they think or how they've been doing...(excuse me while I stop to cry *sob, sob.*)  I don't really know what anyone else is up to. Except the people I really keep in touch with, i.e my family, whom I call occasionally, and the people I see on a regular basis. And the four people I write real-mail letters to, of course (You guys are awesome, I love you!)

So how about it everyone? Let's just go back to simple ol' email! And while you're at it, write me back!

dislcaimer: I am not targeting anyone specifically with this rant (with the exception of Priscilla. You shouldn't be posting such hot photos of your self for all kinds of weirdos to see!). If, however you get guilt-tripped into writing me an email all the better! Heck, even a comment on my blog would cheer me up.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Novelling update or, how much I love Nanowrimo. (Also, autumn!)

Allow me to ramble about my novel for a bit, will ya?

One of the things about Nanowrimo is that it gets your story out whether or not it's really ready. Sometimes that's good and sometimes its bad. For me, I think this is good. I tend to get caught up in time lines and how much of past should I put in and how can I incorporate flashbacks, and blah blah. And then I never seem to actually write the derned story. Nanowrimo encourages simply hacking out what you have, what you know and allowing room for improvisation as you go. And so far, I feel it's been working out really well for me.

I have parts of my story that are completely backwards. I changed my mind about a semi-huge aspect about 4 chapters ago and decided to simply go along with the story as though this is the way it's been all along. I simply added a note up near the beginning where the guy asks the girl to marry him that, no he actually doesn't do this at this time and we'll fix that later. (Funny enough, it was one of the huge exciting moments in my story way back then when I needed lots of motivation to keep it going. I liked it so much I used it as the excerpt to show off my novel.) So now, as I write and I decide "You know what, this guy actually has done this, or that and not this. And this portion isn't so great...." but one of the main rules of Nanowrimo is to NEVER delete anything. I am very impulsive at times about my writing. I revise as I go, editing and frequently deleting and simply rewriting. So the parts I have are oh so perfect and the rest is never done because I realize I needed to actually not have that proposal scene there but oh-my-gosh it's so well written how could i ever delete that amazingness???!!!!

Thank goodness for Nanowrimo and the deadline and the enormous goal that prevents me from having the time to go back and do these horrible things to myself. That proposal scene is pretty good, but it's not perfect. And since it's not deleted, or revised in anyway yet, I'll have the time later when I'm not hurriedly tapping out 50,000 words to really mull over it and figure it out and what I should do with it. Can it be recycled? Easily changed to fit the new and improved story version? We'll see!

In the meantime, I've decided to not be afraid to really change it up if I have to. I can always go back later and put together all these puzzle pieces I've written for myself, right? Right! I simply put notes beside the places I know will eventually need to be changed and guess what's also awesome? Those notes are adding to my word count! Is that like cheating or what?

But here's what you really wanted to know...
Word count update as of 11/11/11: 19,337.

I hope to get to 20,000 later on today. You know, to really celebrate that whole 111111 thing. 
Anyone doing anything fun for this special date?

Okay, now that I'm done with that love letter to Nanowrimo for helping me get out what I think might be one of my best stories ever, I'll update you on other things that I love.

Autumn! Heart, heart, heart. This is shaping up to be a glorious autumn. The colours have been madly different. I never knew so many shades of brown could look so glorious together! And these crazy lime-greeny yellows! I apologize that my writing has kept me from really taking many pictures but I have a few here for you to gaze at in gazemazement. (a little Strongbad reference fer ya, there.)

Aren't my woods beautiful?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

W is for Wednesday, wonderful words and writing!

A few wonderful words for your Wednesday!
1.It's National Novel Writing Month! Expect me to be a little errant this month (as opposed to how prolific I am normally, right? ha.) as I hack out my amazing great American novel. Actually, it has nothing to do with America. It's a fantasy setting... If you'd like more details (not about my novel, but about the event in general) or want to participate in novel writing month, go to! Anyone else out there doing this with me? Any of you even heard of it? It's great fun, and wonderful motivation if you're interested in writing!

2. I meant to post this on October 31st but my kid* brother-in-law (who is living with us for the time being) contracted a virus to my computer and I was unable to do much until my sweet genius husband had time to fix it for me. But seriously, I know you all want to know about my costume!
Well here I am. A purple sorceress. Or if you will, Purple Personified. Because we all know purple is a sorceress in her own right. My hair didn't get quite as purple as I was hoping it would because I ran out of hair spray-paint about half way through. It was what I had leftover from my Night Elf costume, so oh well.
My facepaint looks really cool, though, eh? And I think my hair style was pretty popular too. If you look close you can see the toilet-paper rolls I used to achieve the sticking out look. Ah, I loved this costume! I felt so cool!
 And check out those purple and black striped socks, yes indeed! For more details about how I made the skirt out of shirt sleeves see my post at Refashion co-op!

3 Well, this is back to NaNoWriMo because it's all that plagues my thoughts since October 31st. But while looking at the New Hampshire forums I noticed a name that was familiar, and then saw a FACE that was familiar. I'm pleased to announce that an amazing lady from my very own church is ALSO participating in NaNoWriMo! I'm so excited to talk to her about it this Sunday. She is, in fact, one of our Municipal Liaisons!

4 We had a great snow storm last Saturday night. Power went out and everything. Snowy Octobers** are awesome. I didn't get to take photos, though, because instead of walking to church on Sunday morning we found ourselves driving to John's parents house down in Newbury Port, because our church got cancelled due to no electricity. Unfortunately, theirs was too. Oops.

5 I thought I had something else but now I can't think of it. And it turns out that now I'm going to be late to my herbalist friends house, so I better go. See ya!

*Kevin is not actually a kid, he's 21. lol
** It occurs to me now that Snowy October would be a really cool name for a band, no?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A little snow for your October?

Thursday was a cold rainy day. Our coldest day of the season with no doubt. I felt sad for my husband who had to be out in it working. (He has a driving around and being outside sort of job) When he got home I made him some spicy hot cocoa to warm him up. Our fall has been on the milder side of weather so far. There have been very few days where I actually felt a need to wear a scarf. It made me happy to feel it cooling off. But  as the sun set and it started getting even more cold, something weird happened.

The rain started getting slushy. And then it started getting floaty and on the drier side...

Wait a second! This is SNOW. It's only October! What about autumn! The leaves haven't fallen yet! Some of our leaves are still green!   We want brisk days not frozen days. Heh.
It was magical, though. The first snow always is....

 Actually every time it snows it's magical. Do you ever just stand in it and listen to it hit the ground? And watch it turn the world white and clean?
You should.

The next morning we had a thin layer. Not a lot. I hear some areas got a few inches. We had enough to make scraping the windshield necessary and to turn the grass white. Bits of icy snow clumps clung to leaves causing them to sparkle in the morning sunshine. And then they started melting and falling and caused a bit of ruckus. You didn't want to be standing underneath a tree! And when the sun really got high it sounded like the first thaw, that musical drip-drip-dripping of snow really melting. Lovely.

I hear we're supposed to get a few more inches tonight.

Anyone dreaming of a white Halloween?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I've figured it out.

We're having a Halloween party this Friday. And up until about 4 seconds ago I didn't know what I would be. I was getting a little concerned. I'm a little famous for my awesome halloween costumes. (Okay, maybe only my head, but still.) One year I was a jungle girl, and once a Night Elf. My cleverest  yet was The Fruit of the Spirit for a Christian themed costume party (which was nowhere near October 31st, I need to say.)* I have a (self-imposed) reputation to live up to! And now I can rest easy and simply put together the awesomeness because I just figured it out. Ready?

I'm going to be Purple.


Purple. The colour.

Well. It IS my favourite.

I'll personify it it. Facepaint, purple hair, purple dress. Sorceress style clothes. Yes in-deed. This is going to be good.

Thanks for listening guys

*unfortunately, no photos were taken at these events. And I didn't have a camera of my own, then. I'll definitely have photos this time 'round.
p.s I just deleted my facebook a couple days ago and the need to share short-ish thoughts-of-the-moment hasn't left me yet. Maybe this blog will actually be updated here and again though with it being my main outlet for sharing awesome stuff.
p.p.s Sorry if this is all a bit disheveledly written. It occurred to me mid-sorting laundry and I need to get back to that. So um, no editing. Bear with me. this costume idea might be my best to date.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Beautiful Autumn

The other day, I heard some women chatting about how they hadn't yet seen "gasp in wonder and awe" colour in the foliage. They spoke of years with trees and landscapes so vivid and fiery that they stopped their cars just to gaze. I was boggled. And a little indignant.

I had seen such things. Have they not been looking? The trees have been positively GLOWING. I've been seeing colours that set my heart bursting with song! Then it occurred to me: Of course they've seen more impressive years than this. They've lived here and seen leaves change for dozens of years, maybe their whole lives. Heck, even I'll admit that last year was better than this year has been so far. But this year has been absolutely gorgeous too!

And then I was glad that it's still new to me and that even when its a "poor" year for the foliage it's still breathtakingly beautiful to my newbie eyes.
But that makes me wonder: will I too, one day, compare "drab" falls to past "impressive" ones and be disappointed? Can't one always look at things new? Can't one appreciate the beauty you see every single day even when it's always the same? And the wonderful thing about seasons is that even the same 'ol-same 'ol scenes continue to change day in and day out. Spring flowers, summer greens, autumn fire and winter whites. They're all amazing in their own way and you know what the best part of it all is?

Even those are different every year.

The flowers don't conform to the same pattern as the previous years. Every snowfall has it's own characteristics and every summer brings a unique variety of breezes and warmth. Autumn too, bursts into it's new version of glorious colour.

  So, maybe it hasn't been our most colourful fall, nor the coolest and crispest; the air isn't quite as brisk and filled with wonderful smells as it has been in past years and it has been a little on the wet side but shouldn't we appreciate these differences just as much?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pear Walnut Brownies

Hello, neglected blog.

Autumn is here and that means apples, pears, pumpkins and all the wonderful spices along with.
Today was a blustery, crisp sort of day and our apartment was on the cool side. I decided I ought bake in order to heat things up a bit and these wonderful brownies were the result! They're a bit of a cry from my usual brownies-on-budget self what with them using 3 eggs, but they are oh-so-delicious! I hope you enjoy.
Pear Walnut Brownies
2/3 c. flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp powdered ginger
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 dashes allspice
1/3 + 1 tbs cocoa powder
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 pear, chopped small
1/3 c. walnuts, broken into pieces

Whisk together dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add oil, sugar and eggs and stir well. Mix in pear and walnuts. Pour into a 9x9 baking dish and place into a 350 preheated oven for 20-30 minutes or until a knife comes out clean and the top of brownies still looks slightly shiny.

I also did a post at Refashion Co-op. Go see!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Another bustle, this time of the tie on variety, and some rambling about my steampunk successes in general

I made this a couple weeks ago and now finally have time to post about it! I was watching my niece Kayleigh again and didn't have time for much of anything while she was around. Now that she's gone I had time to play dress-up (one of my favourite pastimes) and do a bit of a photo-shoot. So without further ado....My bustle!

Right. Now that you've seen it and have had a moment to feast your eyes, I will tell you the story. It starts with a skirt. A well loved skirt that got a little...holey.
Exhibition A

Exhibition B
Please note, the holes in the rear of the skirt, and while your at it, notice the stains and the random red acrylic paint spots.

For a favourite skirt this was a sad occurrence indeed. I felt it was rather in appropriate to wear out-of-doors because of the holes, even though it had a decent lining. And so, for many months the skirt sat in the "fix-it-somehow" pile, though I had no solution for this particular problem. And then, one day, while browsing the internet and researching the style of Steampunk, it occurred to me that I would very much like to have a bustle. And while shuffling though my fix-it and other random fabric piles I saw the skirt and thought: How good a bustle would look on that! And it would solve all hole and stain problems!

Turns out, I had the perfect shade of olive green fabric already and just needed some tulle to give it some flounce and a bit of lace to trim and cover seams....All I needed was some serious motivation. Which I eventually, thankfully, found. I got ideas from all over the internet and sort of meshed them to suit my own needs.

3 layers of green cotton, lined up before tulle.
From white lace to grey lace.


I only had white lace, so I after a lot of research and brain-storming, I finally came up with idea to make a watered-down acrylic dye with black acrylic paint and some water. I smushed the lace all through it so it was evenly coated and then hung it to dry over my bathtub. You can see the before and after in that poorly lit photo there. I put a few layers of green and black tulle between each layer of the olive-green cotton fabric and carefully ruffled each layer before sewing it together.
While I was deliberating as to how I should sew it to the skirt, my genius husband suggested I simply sew ties onto it, so that I could wear it with said skirt, but then I'd also have the option of wearing it with other outfits as well. I had been talking of making a "tie-on" bustle next and really it was such a smashing idea I couldn't help but comply. I used more of the same dyed lace to complete it and act as a tie as well.
best picture I have of the tie

Looks good with the red purse I made recently

This picture doesn't show off the bustle very well, but I think it's pretty cool
And so there it is. I'm very pleased with it, and it has really motivated me to start collecting more steampunk-style things. As you can see in the last photo above, I've found some jewelry and random objects in my house that do a slick job of looking steampunk when pulled into the right outfit. The medallion/pendant thing on the necklace used to be the stand for the pen that came with our wedding guest-book. The pen had long since run out of ink and the stand had been lying around being useless until I pounced upon it and took it apart for my own conniving use! *cackle*  The "glove" is a bit of lace wrapped around my hand and secured with a safety pin and a plastic gold button that I rubbed with some black paint to make it look like a tarnished brass button..
The blouse is one that my mother made around 10 years ago for my sister who, about 4 years ago gave it to me, who put it into the "I don't know what to do with, but don't want to take apart and don't want to give away pile" and then, while searching for Victorian style blouses in all my clothes, found it again and thought "my goodness, it's perfect!"
And here is a close up of the hairclip I'm wearing:
I made it with some lacey trim (found in a free pile) I wound into a flower, a button I pulled off of an old green couch and then painted and some pheasant feathers (which I bought, *gasp*). Then I attached it to a bobby pin and now wear it on a regular basis.

Soooo....That's about it! I hope you liked it.
P.s I'll do an actual post on the purse I made out of a place mat next time!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The rocking chair re-do

I meant to post this one a few days ago, but I had a little sadness in my life so I took a short break. I may post about it later, or I may not. I haven't decided yet.

Anyway, I'm feeling a lot better now and figured I ought to tell you about my rocking chair! I'm very proud of it.
This is what it looks like now. The weave isn't perfect, but I'd say it's definitely not bad for a first try and done in a couple hours (probably took me about 3 hours what with unwrapping and re-wrapping a few times to get it to look "right") And I listened to Tom Sawyer on audio book while I did so. Very enjoyable.

Take a look at it before:
No seat! I found this Bentwood rocker at the thrift store with a five dollar price tag. Yes, it had a broken seat and a semi broken back but when I saw it I wanted it. I called my husband and discussed with him, he told me to get it if I really wanted it. So I did. Then I researched seat weaving and how to do it. It didn't look hard but everything I found said it required a lot of ribbon, fabric, rope, wicker or whatever you chose to do it with. When I finally went to the art and craft store (4 months later, as you can see from the date) I looked into buying canvas ribbon, which was what I had in mind all along. But it cost a lot, even in bulk and I couldn't see myself spending that much, even if it looked really good. So I searched for other sturdy ribbons and found some indoor-outdoor extra strong ribbon -25 yards for 6.99!

I knew it would definitely be enough. I bought two because I wanted the checker pattern, but one probably would have been enough. At least this way I have enough if I ever want to weave up the back. For now a pillow does the trick of making it both comfortable (helps one lean less far back, as bentwoods are known for their deep rock) and (mostly) hiding the broken back.

I love it and sit in it all the time to read.

Now, when I was getting ready to check-out of the craft store a lady came up to me and asked if I would like the coupons she couldn't use, which of course I accepted. This took 40% off of each roll of ribbon, so the rocking chair ended up being even cheaper than I was expecting. But even if I hadn't had the awesome coupon gift it still would have been a Bentwood style rocking chair for under 20 bucks! And I've seen knock-offs of these for around $150! I don't know if mine is genuine in anyway; probably not. Still, it's comfortable and looks pretty and now it's customized to my liking!

Friday, July 22, 2011

A new pair of trousers

I love it when I get a good variety of crafting done in a short space of time. The past couple weeks I've done crocheting, earring making, fixed up my rocking chair and made myself a pair of summer trousers. And that's not all! I've also made some new extracts and whipped up my first herbal vinegar and finished some very good books. I'll do more detailed posts on some of these other things, but today the spotlight is on the pants....Or should I say "Pantaloons"?
No, I don't think pantaloons is the right word. They're not voluminous enough. Haha.  This is my second pair of pants that I've made in this fashion, the pattern is my own, though I can't claim to have really designed it. I mean, you see pants like this all over the place in the east. I like to call them my "Aladdin pants" or sometimes my "gypsy trousers."  These ones are even more fantasy-gypsy style because of the two-tone design I gave them. I love the style and I love these colours. My first pair I made several years ago and have loved  them near to death, though, despite the wear and fading they've taken, I have to say I'm proud of how sturdy they've been so far and how well they've held up! Not bad for a hand-sewn novice job I'd say. You can see a picture of me in the old pair in my vest coat refashion post.

I'm very happy to have two pairs, because now I can rotate them during the summer months. They are very comfy and keep one quite cool when the weather is hot. Also, I get compliments on them all the time, which I love. Who doesn't love getting compliments?

Bonus! I made a little sachet with some of the scraps. It was surprisingly quick to make and filled with dried lavender buds it smells delightful.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Old Songs Festival 2011

 Well, here it is. The long expected Old Songs post. I'm sad to say that I didn't get very many great pictures this time around. I'm very shy when it comes to photographing people I don't know, especially when my picture taking will be very obvious. Next year, hopefully, I'll be bolder.

When we arrived, it was raining. The rain was off and on nearly the whole weekend. I haven't been to an Old Songs where it didn't rain at least once, but this one was particularly rainy. I think setting up our tent in the rain is traditional though. This time, however, we got there before dark, which was really nice. The picture below is of John and his younger brother Kevin. They are fast tent-setter-uppers, having both been boy scouts.
Setting up the tent

Other tents and some nice views.
 As we do every year, in order to get a free admission ticket, we volunteered to help out at the festival. We always work in the kitchen and food prep department aptly named Creature Comforts. We don aprons, bandanas and latex or vinyl gloves and cut vegetables, assemble egg salads, stir soups and when the other volunteers, performers and vendors line up for their lunch we serve it to them.
John and Kevin prep some lunch
 It's really rather jolly for the most part. Serving the performers is always exciting because you get to see up close musicians and singers and dancers whom you've admired from afar. Sometimes you even get to tell them how much you liked their show!
A really big salad
 The workshops are another very cool part of Old Songs. John and I went to a concertina workshop in the hopes of picking up some good tips. It was interesting and entertaining. We don't, either of us, currently play the concertina, but we're planning to buy one sometime soon! This guy was in a band called The Press Gang.
Concertina Workshop
 Old songs is located in Altamont, NY. It's a lovely place with a beautiful view of some mountainous terrain.  This is probably the back of some famous mountain range, but I really couldn't tell you.
A nice view
Here's the closest picture I could get of one of my more favourite bands. We went to a couple of their smaller concerts as well as seeing them on the main stage here. They were called The Outside Track and were composed of four people from various parts of the British Isles (two from Ireland I think, one from Scotland and the other from England) and one gal from the U.S, Maine, I think. They met at Univeristy in Limerick Ireland. They were very talented and played some beautiful music, Celtic, Scottish and and old American folk, primarily. The violinist also did quite a bit of step-dancing.
The Outside Track
 And then there's the Contra Dance every night of the festival. I never actually dance, but I do enjoy watching. The colours and the motion are very hypnotic, and the rhythmic speech of the caller speaking the next moves to the music is inspiring. I'd probably join the dance if I could convince my husband to join me. He's not much of a dancer.

John and I went to a whistle and flute workshop. The floutist from The Outside Track was one of the teachers, she was vivacious and cheerful. I liked her a lot even though she would insist that it was "an easy song" and it really wasn't (And I know my way around a penny whistle pretty well). The other teachers were a Seminole indian who taught some about Native American five holed whistles and a clarinet player who played improv/backup penny whistle and recorder for a band that played a lot of eastern style music. It was a fun workshop. 
 The piper.
 The festival is at some large fairgrounds where there are all kinds of historical farming implements scattered about. I wish I had taken more photos of this kind of stuff, it looks really neat.
Rusted farming equipment
That's pretty much it for the good ones of Old Songs. I need to get over my fear of photographing strangers, I'm sure most of the musicians and performers expect and don't mind having their picture taken. There's also a lot of people in some very interesting clothing at Old Songs, it's frequently like a mixture of a Renaissance Faire and a hippie gathering. Really, folk-music enthusiasts usually are pretty hippie-like. I feel like my hippie-fairy clothing style fits right in when I'm there. It's always tons of fun and ever so tiring, but completely worth it.
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