Thursday, December 29, 2011

miss peregrine's home for peculiar children

I hope everyone had a fun, relaxing, restful holiday!  I do have another Christmas post coming up, but finding enough time to process all the images has been hard to come by, as you can imagine.  And then of course there's New Year's!  I'm totally excited, because this year we'll be spending that particular holiday with Marc and Leanne (you will remember them from Halloween).  It's sure to be an awesome time, and a post about that will be sure to follow!

I thought I'd do a little interim post about one of the gifts that I received this year, from my brother. It's about this book:

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs.  I watched the book trailer a few weeks ago, and immediately fell in book love.  So you can imagine how excited I was to get reading.  I managed to drag it out to the evening of December 26th, and there's part of me that wishes I had dragged it out a bit longer -- because now that it's over, I'm sort of in withdrawal. But let me tell you, it is pretty much everything I love in a book.  The combination of actual old photographs (which sometimes border on the grotesque, so be warned) and a compelling story make for a really interesting reading experience.  It was also kind of refreshing to read a book that isn't a classic.  Don't get me wrong, I love the classics, but sometimes you just need a bit of contemporary punch now and then.

I don't want to spoil the book for anyone, so I won't go into much detail on the plot.  This isn't so much a review as a "I'm so excited about this story, and I want everyone else to be excited about it too" sort of post.  But if you like stories of budding romance (not Twilight-esque budding romance, which is silly), intrigue, adventure, and anything with vintage flair, then you'll like this one.  I'm probably going to wait a few weeks and then read it again, just to see if I pick up anything the second time around that I missed in the first go.  I'm so, so, so excited that there's going to be a sequel...I just don't know if I'll be able to wait that long!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

deck the halls!

Decorating around the house for Christmas this year has brought up some bittersweet thoughts for me.  Since I'll be married and in my very own apartment by Christmas 2012, this is sort of my "last" Christmas here.  I know, I know...I'll be coming by on Christmas Eve to celebrate with my family (we no longer celebrate on Christmas morning) for years to come, but I probably won't be here when my mom drags all of our Christmas decorations up from the basement and turns our autumnal living room/dining room into a winter wonderland.  And I probably won't be decorating the Christmas tree with my mom either, after which we always ask my dad "How does it look?", to which he always responds, "It's beautiful!", and then we glow with pride.  I'm excited to decorate the apartment I'll be sharing with Luke, to have our own tree, to watch Christmas specials together on our own couch.  But there is a part of me that will be sorry to leave these traditions behind.  So even though I'm excited for Christmas, I know that this is the last one of its kind for me.  So I want to treasure it even more for that.

One of the traditions that I'm definitely going to carry on with Luke, and with our future children, is buying a new ornament for each of us every year.  That means that each of us have (or will have, in the case of my younger brother) twenty-one ornaments from Hallmark.  It's so fun to pick your ornament each fall, and see the way our tastes have changed over the years.  I went from Precious Moments-esque angels, to goofy Santas (one of which is pictured below), the lovely bird ornaments.  My older brother, collected fishing Santas, Snoopy ornaments, and even has a Muhammed Ali ornament (which, I'm afraid, always gets relegated to the back of the tree because it doesn't go with my mom's decor).  And may I also add that the annual advent calendar is always something to look forward to?

Monday, December 5, 2011

first snow fall...sort of

I feel like every time I write a post these days, I'm apologizing for being absent.  But November, and now December, have sort of taken me by the throat and won't let go.  To add to all the other insanity that's been happening, I found out today that my my grandpa is having surgery tonight (he may be in surgery right now, for all I know), and that he might have cancer.  Again.  And I spent most of my day editing scene change charts, and sticking tabs in for all the lighting and sound cues in my stage manager's script.

And, to top it all off, I am freezing cold

The snow did start falling a few days ago though.  I thought it might actually stick around, but it appears I was wrong.  Which is too bad, because we have a few roses still clinging to life on our rose bush, and I wanted to get some shots of the snow on them -- but every time I went to go take the pictures, the snow had already melted!  

I'm not a huge fan of snow, but I'm less of a fan of green Christmases.  Now that it's December, I feel like I have license to watch every single Christmas special in existence, and that the sky owes me enough snow to hide all the nasty, soggy grass.

(you can click on the pictures to view larger!)

P.S. I picked and purchased my wedding gown on Saturday.  I wish I could tell you guys about it because I'm super excited, but Luke reads the blog, and I don't want to blow the surprise!  But I can tell you that I tried on about ten dresses, and pretty much knew right away that it was the one.  Part of me knew because I absolutely did not want to take it off.  And my parents completely surprised me by offering to buy the dress!  I can't wait to be able to share pictures with you -- less than a year to go!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

my book obsession: mrs. dalloway

I'm sure you may have gleaned this from past posts, but I really am a book addict.  I've always said that if anything were to bankrupt me, it wouldn't be clothes, or shoes, or purses, or whatever.  It would be books.  Books are generally the only thing that I don't feel guilty about buying, when really I should.  I mean, I'm not rolling in gold over here.  Really I should be saving up all of my money, but frankly, I can't resist a good book. Or even a book that has the potential to be terrible, but has a really great cover.

But what makes this addiction even worse, is that I buy multiple copies of my favourite books.  Yes. If I'm perusing a used book store (or a non-used bookstore, actually), and I come across a beautiful copy of a book that I already own, I'll buy it.

Case in point: Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf.

These are actually not all of my copies.  One or two of them have disappeared into the abyss of our basement, which is unfortunate, because my favourite copy is missing. It was tiny, and red, with gold-edged pages.  I also included my e-reader version of it, just for fun.  I'll never give up my paper books, but the convenience of my Kobo is awesome.  I don't know about you guys, but I'm really indecisive when it comes to choosing books to bring with me on trips and whatnot, so having hundreds at my disposal wherever I go is pretty cool.  But I digress.

This copy is the oldest one I have.  I think it was printed around 1954.  The cover is unlike any I've ever come across before, so obviously I had to have it.  I love the bright, graphic aspects of it.  All the other covers I've seen are muted in their tones.  So it's cool to have a nice contrast between my versions.  There was a first edition on Ebay for quite some time (it may still be there, for all I know), which I mooned over for a long time.  Unfortunately, $900 for a single book was where I had to draw the line.  I would definitely feel guilty for emptying my bank account for a book I probably could never open for fear of pages tearing or being stained.  A girl can dream though.

I stumbled onto Mrs. Dalloway in high school.  I'm sure I saw it referenced somewhere (it might have been the movie "The Hours"), and thought I'd give it a read.  I immediately fell in love with it -- but that doesn't mean it was easy to get through. There were a lot of times where I'd have to stop, go back, and re-read a passage in order to really understand what was happening.  But there was something about the language of this book that I loved; it had such an incredible flow, even though punctuation was scarce sometimes.  The characters were beautiful and poetic.  Septimus Warren Smith, the Great War veteran suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is one of the most inspirational characters for me.  I won't spoil it for you if you haven't read it, but there is some really incredible writing connected with Septimus in particular, and it really sticks with you.

In case any of you are 20th century literature skeptics, just let me tell you that I am too.  There are very few books written after 1900 and before 1970 that I care for particularly.  For me though, Virginia Woolf is one of the major exceptions.  There is something about her writing that is both definitive of the time she is writing in, and transcendent through the decades that followed.  She isn't writing about flappers smoking cigarettes and being overbearingly pretentious (read: the precursor to the hipster).  She's writing about real people and real issues. 

That said, I totally get it if you hate Virginia Woolf too. To each their own.

Monday, November 21, 2011

neither here nor there

Okay. So I will admit I expected November to be a bit crazy.  I did not expect myself to go crazy in November, however.  But I feel like I've been running around like a chicken with my head cut off, and if I'm not behaving like a headless fowl, then I'm dragging myself from one room of the house to the other, knowing full well that I'm being passive aggressive to my very own self.  The production of Christmas Carol that I'm stage managing is drawing dangerously close to show week, the production of James and the Giant Peach that I'm directing (pretty much simultaneously) is off to a booming start, my dog had surgery (to remove that nasty tumor...gross), NaNoWriMo is turning out to be a major fail this year, and on top of that I'm trying to book venues for mine and Luke's wedding next fall, not to mention making appointments for (weeeeee!) gown shopping.  I feel like there was something else that was supposed to be on that list, but I can't remember it right now.

Anyway, I'd like to put up a couple photo posts this week. This post is not really one of them.  I thought, for fun, I'd share some of the inspiration photos that Luke and I have been looking at for wedding-y things.  I promise this isn't going to turn into a wedding blog though.  Although I do love wedding blogs...

You can click to enlarge most of these pictures!

(I would like to point out that while I love craspedia, and also daisies, seeing as they are my favourite flowers, I hate that bouquet on the top right.  But I like the other ones. Especially the last two.)

This my dream bouquet. So pretty. 

I know I should be  crediting these pictures, but frankly...I don't even know where a lot of these came from anymore. And I am too tired to go a-google hunting.

Have a good one guys!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

days six to twelve

I am pleased to report that I only forgot to take a picture for one day -- and really, I didn't forget, I just felt like procrastinating.  You know how it is.  Not to mention I'm desperately trying to get my word count up (I am dismally behind at this point).  

Day Six: Pink
The same friend that bought me the tiny tea set from England, also brought me this adorable journal from Versailles in France.  It's officially become my wedding planning journal.  Yay!

Day Seven: Oversized
My dad's shoes are much too big for me.

Day Eight: Morning
The indistinct gray light of morning.  This picture isn't even something spectacular, but I love it.  I don't know why.

Day Nine: Upside Down
I waited all day for Pip to flip onto his back for this picture. Go figure, it was the one day he didn't do it.  So I ended up having to ask my dad to do downward facing dog, because that's all I could think of.

Day Ten: Reflection
The reflection of my living room in my T.V. A lot cooler than I had anticipated.

Day Eleven: Inside
I was so happy to get to spend the day inside yesterday.  It was cold enough to snow!  Luckily none of it stuck.

Day Twelve: Delicious

Mmmm...cookies and milk.  

Thursday, November 10, 2011

a jane eyre proposal

I had every intention to be well on my way to a NaNoWriMo win this week.  I also had every intention to post pictures, wallpapers, and whatever else. And I really do give you my sincerest apologies for blogging my very serious blogging duties.  But you have to forgive me, really, because things have been whacko this week -- and I mean that in the very best way possible.  For, you see, my boyfriend (if you don't know of him, his name is Luke) proposed to me on Saturday.  So as you can imagine, it's gotten busy.  And I thought I'd share the experience with you because it's an exciting event in my life, and I've shared most of the other events that have occurred in the past few months; and I also think it was cute, and more than I could ever have imagined. So here it goes!

The day started with Luke bringing me my favourite Starbucks drink: a pumpkin spice frappuccino.  Actually, my favourite is a pumpkin spice blended creme, but I felt like I needed caffeine that day.  That in and of itself was a warning bell because Luke doesn't really do that.  If we want Starbucks, we go together, and usually it's as part of a trip to Chapters.  Anyway, when he arrived, he not only had my coffee in hand, he also had a bouquet of beautiful yellow mums.

We lingered around my house for a little while, biding some time, before we headed out into the chilly afternoon air for a "surprise".  A surprise that involved "an animal".  Usually I'm good at guessing where Luke is taking me on his surprises, but this time, I had no idea.  All I knew was that it was somewhere we had never been.  Only a short while later, I discovered that he had booked a trail ride -- on horses!  It had been so long since I'd last been on a horse, but it was kind of like riding a bike.  I felt really comfortable (except for the fact that I hadn't worn gloves and my hands were freezing, and also the cloth reins were digging into my fingers in a most unpleasant fashion), and it was really nice.  Although, the horse I rode was a major pest; his name was Bailey.  But he was cute, so I forgive him.

The trail ride was followed up by eating take-out sushi from one of  our favourite local sushi restaurants in the back of his car -- at the park where we had our first kiss.  Cute, right?  I was getting more and more excited, and also more and more nervous.  I was simultaneously sure that the proposal was coming soon (I mean, how was he going to top this amazing day?), but I was also working very hard to keep my head cool.  If he didn't propose, then I didn't want to be disappointed.

Once we had finished eating, Luke assured me that there was one more destination.  This is it, I thought, and I'm pretty sure my hands were getting sweaty with anxiety.  Ohhhh boy.  Don't be an idiot, I kept telling myself.  I had a feeling I knew where we were headed, and it turned out I was right.  We ended up at a golf course, which may seem strange because I don't like golf, and have never golfed in my life, and I don't think Luke is particularly fond of it either.  But it's a special place for us, because we had first decided to embark on this amazing relationship on the green of that golf course, in the dead of night, when a sky full of stars stretched out above us.  He said we were going there to eat dessert.

Instead, he called me out onto the green, pulled out a piece of paper, and read these words:


I have a strange feeling with regard to you, as if I had a string attached to me under my left rib, and you have a similar string attached to you.

Joy, you rare, unearthly thing!  I must have you as my own!  And so I offer you my hand, my heart, and I ask that you pass through life at my side.  You are my equal and my likeness.  Joy, will you marry me?"

I proceeded to cry like a fool, and say in a hoarse scratchy voice (for I was, and still am, slightly sick), "Of course!"

For those of you who may not be familiar, the words he proposed with were an abbreviated version of Mr. Rochester's proposal to Jane in Jane Eyre.  It happens to be my favourite book, and those words happen to make me swoon.  And to hear my own "Mr. Rochester" say those words to me with such feeling and love, was pretty much a dream come true.  No, it was better.  

And now we're starting out on a new journey, and this year is going to be crazy, and intense, and stressful, and wonderful, and full of excitement.  I can't wait for it.  

And it may just be the reason why I don't win NaNoWriMo this year.  But I think I might be okay with that.

Maybe. :)

(And if you want to know what the ring looks like, I've taken a picture.  I feel a little weird about it, but just in case anyone is curious.  You can click the picture to view it larger.)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

first five

..Not to be confused with "Fast Five". Har har.  In any case, I've completed the first five days of the 365 day project.  It's still pretty early on (as in, very early on), but I'm enjoying it thus far.  I'm hoping I'm able to commit for an entire year, but if I make it even halfway through, I'll still be proud of myself.  

Day One: Old Faithful

This is a picture of my Bible.  It was my fourteenth birthday present.  It's been highlighted, underlined, doodled in, spilled on, and sprayed with paint.  But it still serves its purpose.

Day Two: Good Things Come in Small Packages

The subject of this picture was supposed to be the tea bag inside the tea cup.  But my mom and I got a little carried away setting up the vignette, and it turned into an entire still life.  Interestingly, until quite recently, I hated still life anything.

Day Three: Pet

He's more than just a pet, really.

Day Four: Portrait

This was supposed to be a serious portrait, but it never works out that way with my dad.  I still love it.

Day Five: Small

I take a lot of pictures of things in my hand, but I liked the way it showed the scale of this tiny tea cup.  My friend brought me back a whole miniature tea set, actually.

Well, there you have it, the first five days.  I'm happy with the results, especially the black and whites.  It's taking all my willpower not to convert everything into black and white, now that I have some really nice Photoshop actions.

NaNoWriMo Update:  I've officially crossed the 10 000 word mark.  It was my hope to get well ahead, since I know I won't be getting a lot of writing done this weekend.  However, I didn't take into account that by Monday, I won't have a buffer anymore.  Oh well...I guess Sunday night and Monday morning will be filled with the scurry of frantically typing fingers!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

happy hallowe'en II + first day of nano

I really love Hallowe'en.  Even after my mom decided she didn't want to decorate and hand out candy anymore, I would decorate the house by myself, and hand out all the candy -- always in costume.  One  year, I was a hideous hunch backed man (actually, it was my Riff Raff costume from a Rocky Horror party in high school, but I didn't expect any of the kids to get the reference).  But my street has grown up, and we pretty much don't get more than ten kids in the whole night, and usually it's less.  So that's why I went over to Luke's new place because their neighbourhood is FULL of kids.  Seventy-seven kids came by!  Yes, we tallied it. There were some real cuties...including a little Green Lantern.  Oh, be still my heart.  I did notice though, that the Hallowe'en spirit seems to be dying. I mean we had at least ten kids show up that weren't even in costume.  I mean, come on.  And there were a lot of kids just wearing cat ears.  It's pretty sad when the person handing out that candy is more dressed up than the kids taking the candy.  Oh well.

I didn't find my Star Trek dress, so I used an H&M dress intead.  I actually like it a lot better, so that worked out well.  Usually I do the beehive, but I branched, and I'm so glad I did.  I love, love, love the flipped out ends, and I think I'm going to have to do that to my hair more often.  It was funny though, as I was trying to tell my mom how to use the curling iron to do the ends, and she just gave me this Look and said, "I know how to do this.  I did this to my own hair every day."  It made me laugh like crazy.  Anyway, Luke didn't really have a costume, so we just made him into a sort of '60s-styled man.  I took the opportunity to test out my new Photoshop CS 5.1 and my new actions to vintage-fy our Hallowe'en shots just for some fun.

We watched Sleepy Hollow while we were handing out candy; I really love that movie. And you would never think it was a '90s movie either.  We also ate way too much chocolate, and also homemade date squares (the first time in my life that I've enjoyed date squares).

Once midnight hit, I was off and running with my NaNoWriMo novel.  It is so much fun not caring at all about what you're writing -- I know that must sound weird, but it's true.  In under an hour I had reached 1248 words, so I still have a bit of writing too, especially if I want to get ahead.  But it was nice to wake up this morning and know that really, I have just under 500 words to go before I hit the daily wordcount.

I'm starting the 365 Days: A Year of Prompts project today.  I've wanted to for months, so I figured November is the time; it's turned into my busiest month of the year.  Maybe that's not a bad thing.  Especially since Luke started working full time, I have a lot of hours to fill.  I'll be posting those pictures in batches of about five to ten.  Wish me luck!

Monday, October 31, 2011

happy hallowe'en: there is never enough butter

Happy Hallowe'en everyone!  I hope you enjoy this spooky night to the best of your ability!  Luke and I will be handing out candy to the little ones tonight, while watching Sleepy Hollow (last night we watched Hocus Pocus, is anyone remembers that oldie).  I'm not sure what I'm going to dress up as though...I can't find my Star Trek dress, and I couldn't find any mouse ears to be Minnie Mouse.  So we'll have to see.  I might just wear my mom's Hallowe'en head band and earrings tonight. I hope this isn't the first Hallowe'en EVER that I don't dress up!

Anyway, on Saturday, Luke and I went over to our friends' (and his cousin's) place for a delicious meal and pumpkin carving!  Now, I don't know if I've mentioned this, but I've been cutting out most of the meat in my diet.  But schnitzel will always, always be the exception.  It's just too good.  But I still want to try it with fish, just to see.  Here's a picture of the finished product (of the meal, not the jack-o-lanterns):

Stuffed zucchini, schnitzel with lemon, homemade spaetzle, steamed broccoli, and fried onions with sage.  So. Good.

Now onto the pumpkin carving!

And finally...

Ours is the one on the right (Jack Skellington!  If anyone's interested,  The Nightmare Before Christmas was my first ever move that I saw in theatres, when I was three years old. I've watched it at least three times a year, usually more, since then. I know it off by heart at this point), and the one with the cute little ears belongs to Marc and Leanne. Luke and Marc did all the carving, which we don't have actual pictures of, because Leanne and I were sorting pumpkin seeds for toasting.  We made three batches: all spice with maple spice, garlic, and cinnamon & sugar. That's where the "never enough butter" thing comes in. Because you can never toast pumpkin seeds with enough butter.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

the boys

I thought I'd leave a few new shots of the boys. Some were taken yesterday, the rest of them were taken...ten minutes ago.  And yes, they are wearing crochet neck warmers.  What can I say? I spoil them a little.  Click to see any of the pictures large.

I love this shot of Pip.  But I always feel like these pictures make him look docile and calm, when he's actually really hyper most of the time.

Don't they look so awkward here? It makes me laugh.

Friday, October 28, 2011

preparing for nanowrimo

I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but since 2008, I've been a participant in National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo).  For those of you who might not be familiar with the event, it takes place in the month of November, and the goal is to write 50 000 words by November 30. It is so much fun, and really pushes you to your limits. Not to mention the NaNoWriMo community is amazing. If you're interested in writing (even if you don't want to be a "writer"), I suggest you give it a look. I never thought I could write a novel; I had never managed to get a plot beyond the 10 000 word mark.  But once I got involved with NaNo, I  really surprised myself.  My first year was also my first year of university, so as you can imagine, very, very busy.  And I managed to get to 54 000 words before November 30.  Say whaaaat?!  The event really made me realize that writing is what I am meant to do.

This year I'm doing something a little different. For the past three years I wrote some form of serious fantasy.  What I mean by serious is that I actually tried to write a semi-decent story.  The problem is that now I have three novels that are unfinished, plus two other non-NaNo novels.  I figured that I didn't want to start yet another novel that I care about, because then I will never finish anything.  So instead I've decided to write a paranormal teen romance parody.  I'm not a fan of Twilight, Hush Hush, or any of those novels.  Mostly I just find them hilarious.  Therefore, my new novel is called An Echo of Wings.  I'm looking forward to a mostly free-and-easy NaNoWriMo, where I'm not invested in any of my characters, and consequently won't care what happens to them.

I'm also using NaNoWriMo as motivation to finish my current novel, Reptilia Snaketongue and the Misty Orb of Truth.  I've been working on it pretty seriously for a number of months, and I'm about halfway through.  I'm hoping that with the pressure of the November 30th deadline, I'll be able to get it done.  If you're interested, it's a middle-grade historical-fantasy about a young girl named -- you guessed it -- Reptilia Snaketongue, who is part of a traveling sideshow in 1920s France.  The short version is that, after looking into her old carriage-mate's crystal ball, she sets out with her best friend, a performing camel named Georges, to find her family.

Anyway, before I write an entire book here, I wanted to share a few pictures.  I don't have photoshop right now (I had to suck it up and buy a new laptop, because my old Dell, Abraham Lincoln, was barely hanging to a thread), so there's nothing fancy going on here.  But in preparation for NaNoWriMo, I crocheted a new granny square blanket, and also bought some new, fun bedding.  I bedding for a writing event? Kinda geeky.

If you're wondering, the bedding is from IKEA. And only 12.99!  Yay for deals!  And those stacks of papers on my teeny-tiny desk in the background are hardcopies of my previous NaNo novels! :)  Oh, before I forget, if anyone's interested in being Writing Buddies, here's a link to my author page.  I'd be happy to buddy any other participants!

Friday, October 21, 2011

new lens!

Exciting news abounds!  I've been sort of MIA for the past couple days, but I have two (I think) good reasons.  Firstly, we -- meaning my Mom, younger brother, and I -- got our preorder of Sims 3 Pets!  SO MUCH FUN. And what's great is I get to have cats, which I can't have in the real world, due to the fact that I am not only badly allergic, but also because they are a major trigger for my asthma.  Plus, one of my characters has the ambition of catching and adopting a unicorn.  So cool.

Secondly, I got a new lens!  It's a Nikon 50mm f/1.8 D (I shoot with a Nikon D3000 if anyone's wondering.  It's the most basic entry level DSLR they have out right now, and this 50mm is the most basic version they have too).  My kit lens is still pretty good (18-55mm), but after a few months, I started to notice my limitations.  For one thing, depth of field, and for another, low light photography.  I know I've mentioned it before, but my house doesn't have the best lighting, and the lightbulbs cast an icky yellow cast over my shots.  But with my nifty fifty, that issue is pretty much a thing of the past.  It's been interesting playing around with it, because my camera doesn't support autofocus, so it's all manual.  And I'm happy to report that I'm loving it!  I'm just loving the silky, warm feeling to the photos I've been taking.  So I compiled a few for you guys to see (all pretty random), and I hope you enjoy! (I particularly like the one of my mom drinking tea.)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

wallpaper wednesday: fall edition

We return to regularly scheduled Wallpaper Wednesdays.  Enjoy a few of my favourite images of the fall (so far)! You may see one of them again in a future post.

Have a good one everybody!