Thursday, January 29, 2015

What I'm Reading: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

I would like to apologize for not staying up to date with my reading posts. Even though I wasn't consistently blogging about A Beautiful Messes book club, I have managed to stay up to date with it. Back in September the ABM book club read Middelsex by Jeffrey Eugenides.  

  • When I first found out that Middelsex was the chosen book I felt a little leery about it because I was not a fan of The Virgin Suicides movie (and Jeffrey Eugenides wrote that book as well), but the plot of this book intrigued me and the book was very well reviewed. By the time I finished this book I found it to be a very enjoyable read. 
  • I liked Calliope/ Cal's story and I liked how we got to learn about how Cal's family history made her into the person he was in the modern day. 
  • I also enjoyed the narration style and how the story sometimes shifted from modern day to the past. I felt like this was a welcome shift and it helped me as the reader to reflect on how the experiences of the past helped to shape the present. 
  • Although I haven't struggled with gender identity, I could relate to the awkwardness Cal experienced in Cal's early relationship and sexual experiences.
  • Having recently researched my own family history through, I could also relate to the idea of the story exploring Cal's family history to reflect upon the past's impact on the present generation. 
  • One of the discussion questions asked "If you were to write the story of your life, can you step back and see any constants, any ideas that have had a place throughout your story?" I feel like this is a difficult question to answer because I can't "step back" from my life and I am constantly changing and evolving. I suppose one motif one could find in my story is the passing of 2 of my closest relatives...which lead to my being able to move to a new country without feeling like I was somehow disappointing them or making them sad missing and worrying about me while I'm away.
  • I'm not sure if Middlesex has any real villains (even though "Father Mike" wasn't so Godly in the end"). Some might argue that Dr. Luce could have been the villain of this book, but I felt that although Dr. Luce might have been guilty pursuing his own research over paying attention and being sensitive to Cal's needs/interests, he was not the villain of this book. I think that based on the information Cal and her family had given Dr. Luce, his research, and society's opinions on the topic at that time, he probably thought he was making a decision in the best interests of all involved.
  • One of the more obvious takeaways from this book is that it highlights the LGBT community and specifically highlights the lesser discussed hermaphrodite community and makes you consider what life is like in "Cal's shoes" and that sex and gender do not always go hand-in-hand.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Shop Your Heart Out

Hi Friends,

You know I love it when fashion meets philanthropy, so I'm just writing to let you know that my friends over at My Jewel Candy will be donating 20% of the profits from their Valentine's collection to the American Heart Association until the end of February. So shop your heart out!

images courtesy of My Jewel Candy.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

What's Making Me Laugh: The Knitting Guy on Jimmy Kimmel

During the taping of a recent episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Kimmel did an off camera chat with his audience and discovered that a guy in the audience was knitting. Check out the clip below.

  1. Men who knit are cool!
  2. Men who knit in public are awesome!
  3. The fact that this guy took up knitting because his daughter wouldn't knit him a hat is mega-awesome!
  4. Mic drop.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

What I'm Listening To: George Ezra "Budapest"

This week I decided to share a song from George Ezra who is basically the greatest thing to hit the UK since sliced bread...or English muffins...or whatever. This young man has been selling out shows UK wide and was the hot ticket at 2014's Glastonbury. So, if you haven't heard him yet, check out his song "Budapest."

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

10 Great Things About Winter

1. Christmas Markets

One of my favorite things about being in Europe in the winter time is seeing all of the Christmas Markets. This year I visited several markets - some local, some in London, and one in Finland. I just love the little log cabin huts, the lights, the trinkets, and the candy and mulled wine!

2. The Holidays

It's the most wonderful time of the year! I love binge watching holiday films, having an excuse to Skype with family and friends, picking out and opening presents, and all of the other things mentioned here.

3. Winter Break

I realize that not everyone gets a Winter Break from their day job, but those of us that do (teachers and students) really appreciate that much needed R&R.

4. Warm Beverages 

Coffee, lattes. tea, hot cocoa, mulled wine, glogg...I love holding onto and sipping warm beverages to keep warm.

5. Christmas Specials on TV

The English know how to do Christmas Specials right! This year I got to watch Christmas Specials of Dr. Who, Call The Midwife, Downton Abbey, the finales of Miranda and Derek, and the made for TV movie, Esio Troi, with Dustin Hoffman and Dame Judi Dench. 

6. Oscar Contender Movies

Not only is it award season, but this is also the time of year when all of the good movies come out. I've been lucky enough to have seen several Oscar contenders already (The Imitation Game, Mr. Turner, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel) and it's the perfect time of year to cuddle up and binge watch all of the films I haven't seen.

7. Sweater Weather

Finally my cute sweaters get to see the light of day!

8. Winter Sales

It's the perfect time of year to take advantage of Christmas sales and post-holiday clear-out sales. I always hit up the bookstores after New Years and pick up my annual calender for half-price.

9. Snow

I have a love/hate relationship with snow. I like to look at snow, but I'm not a fan of the cold or driving on it. However, if my area happens to get enough snow to cancel work, I absolutely love it!

10. Snuggling

Snuggling is the best!

This post was inspired by Mathilde Heart Manech's blog post 5 Positive Things To Do this Week #116.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

My Favorite Looks from the 2015 Golden Globe Awards

I know I'm kind of showing up late to the party by talking about the 2015 Golden Globe Awards because I'm writing about it over a week after it aired (on January 11, 2015), but in my defence I wasn't able to watch it live because of the whole time-zone thing. But I was able to see highlights from the Golden Globes the following day and now I want to share my favorite outfits from the awards show. 

I'm not so much in love with the soft pink color, but I loved the lines on Chrissy Teigen (aka. Mrs. John Legend)'s Zuhair Murad dress.
Chrissy Teigen in Zuhair Murad
I thought Emma Stone made the perfect choice by wearing a Lanvin jumpsuit to the awards show. I thought it was a perfect blend of casual meets red carpet style that suits her young and fun personality.
Emma Stone in Lanvin
Is it just me or has Keira Knightley's pregnancy just enhanced her beauty? I mean, she looked good before she was pregnant but sometimes I just wanted to hand her a sandwich and now she's got curves, her face is a little fuller ,and she's got that pregnant glow. I like it...and the dress is nice too!
Keira Knightley in Chanel
My vote for best dressed celebrity couple on the red carpet goes to Joshua Jackson and Diane Kruger. I thought Josh looked dapper and Diane's dress was elegant and sophisticated.
Joshua Jackson and Diane Kruger
Do you enjoy browsing red carpet looks? Are you excited for awards season? Who wore your favorite outfits? Let me know in the comments below.

All images borrowed from

Monday, January 19, 2015

What I Made in 2014

There's something very satisfying about having all of the things that you made on display on a single page. Here's what I made in 2014:

From Left to Right
Row 1: Quick Baby Sweater for my co-worker; The Virtual Paintout Vladivostok sketch; The Virtual Paintout Chile sketch; Wicken Fen sketch (not blogged); Aidez cardigan; Simplicity 1803 for the OAL2014 (not blogged); Myrna cardigan; Mollie Makes flower brooch; woolen squirrel for Woolen Woods; Blue Chamomile; Tweed toad; Cathode; Beanie for my husband; 12th Doctor gloves; Ed Wood Pink Angora Sweater; Oia, Greece sketch.

I also made the Bridget scarf and a finger crocheted snowflake at the Handmade Fair and I sewed my own outfit for a 1920's theme party in an afternoon (talk about your "make it work" moments). I don't recommend doing that!

As you already know, I kicked off 2015 with new drawings in my sketchbook and I have more sewing and knitting projects on my horizon. Hopefully 2015's re-cap will be even bigger than this one!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

A Belated Virtual Paintout Post- Luxembourg

After completing my Philadelphia and Rome drawings I decided to visit another location from the Virtual Paintout archives. In November 2014 The Virtual Paintout focused on the country of Luxembourg. There were several artists who completed their sketches on time that decided to sketch Beaufort Castle, but after browsing around Luxembourg with my Google Maps peg man I couldn't get the image of this street  view out of my mind and decided to give it a go.

"Beaufort Castle" 
watercolor, pen, marker

The castle reminded me of something out of a fairy tale and I loved all of the sheep in the yard!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Belated Virtual Paintout Post- Rome, Italy

After I finished my Philadelphia, Pennsylvania drawing for the Virtual Paintout I wanted to keep going, so I decided to check out some of the Virtual Paintout locations that I had missed. In December 2014 The Virtual Paintout focused on Rome, Italy. It was said that "If you can't find something to draw or paint at this location, you might need to give it up!" and boy did I struggle to find a location before I finally settled on the Colosseum. Classic!

"Piazza del Colosseo"
Rome, Italy
water color, pen & marker

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Wardrobe Architect 2015 Challenge

This year fast-fashion is OUT and capsule wardrobes are IN as many bloggers have decided to swear off shopping and make due with a smaller wardrobe. 

As you'll recall, last year I participated in Coletterie's Wardrobe Architect Challenge which helped motivate me to pair down my wardrobe and analyse my style so that I could create a better and more authentic wardrobe. And I'm pleased to announce that the Wardrobe Architect series has returned in 2015. While participants are encouraged to avoid fast fashion and to sew new clothing items, it's not mandatory to participate and you can adapt the guidelines to fit your needs. Below is a list of what the Wardrobe Architect will be covering each month:

  • January – Find your core style and explore shapes
  • February – Clean out your closet and take inventory
  • March – Review and finalize your spring/summer sewing projects
  • April – Plan colors and shop for spring fabric
  • May & June – Sew for your spring/summer capsule wardrobe
  • July – Review and finalize your autumn/winter sewing projects
  • August – Plan colors and shop for autumn fabric
  • September & October – Sewing for your autumn/winter capsule wardrobe
  • November – Review and refine
  • December – Show off your wardrobe!
  • I'll admit that committing to avoid fast fashion sounds a bit daunting and I'm not sure if I have the time and/or the confidence in my ability to make EVERY new clothing item, but I do want to invest in quality items over quantity, I want a more manageable and authentic wardrobe, and I have been favoring more mid-range stores and vintage shops lately. So I'm going to do my best to follow the Wardrobe Architect 2015 Challenge, avoid fast fashion as much as possible, and complete the Wardrobe Architect exercises from month to month.

    Are you doing a capsule wardrobe in 2015? Will you be participating in the Wardrobe Architect 2015 Challenge? I'd love to hear from you!


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