Sunday, 22 December 2013

Christmas Adam!

It's nearly Christmas Adam! That's the 23 of December - since there's Christmas Eve, there should be a Christmas Adam, right? Or at least, that's the tradition in my family. There was a gathering and food and even horrible country and 70s karaoke as well as football and lots of little kids today that left everyone worn out, and we'll meet again tomorrow! I finally got the gifts I'm giving wrapped up, though I'm sure there will be more wrapping to do before Christmas Eve arrives properly.

Winter Solstice was great. I mean, just what better time of the year is there?? None, honestly. Just a fabulous night, and though it still hasn't gotten cold enough to snow, and rained mostly for the past two days, I never felt better. I got the last 'draft' of my New Year's Resolutions drawn up, my book list and cross stitch plans laid out and ready, and all I have to do is enjoy the season fully! I wish I had done something more festive for the Solstice, but ah well. We had luminaries planned, but the rain gave that idea a check.

The blog has gotten another facelift, with another column added to the left so I could split stuff up and fit all the things I need to fit in up where you can locate them! I also designed a new picture for the header, and got busy with the colours. Hope you like them! The header is my inspiration for the next half of my NaNoWriMo book - I know November is over, but my book isn't, and I'm still writing it! There's going to be plenty of that lovely winter goodness with extra additions of Korean culture, so it's just about the most perfect inspiration picture ever for it. I thought it'd be nice to put it here as well where it matches well with the winter palette. (:



On cross stitching, I've gotten all the brown in the border around Winter's Maiden completed! There are just the corners to fill in, and the actual label 'Winter' to stitch in at the bottom - the wintery branches at the top are nearly finished now. I was this close to choosing another colour than the one used in the pattern. I think it looks too green for a Winter portrait. But, in the end, I decided against it, and went ahead. It looks better the further I go, so I suppose that's a good thing. I did actually rip out her gloves though - I hate them. They look too yellow to me. Blues, purples, fainter creams. . . . anything but that yellow!! So two steps forward, one step back on that front. DX

So, everyone, have a good Christmas Adam, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day! For those outside of America, have a good Boxing Day as well, and should you have other holidays coming up before New Year here, I hope you have a joyful and enjoyable day then as well! Blessings to you all in this season of Winter, and see you soon!

~x~

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Picture Post!

Everything is all scanned and prepared! I even found the Larkspurs again to be able to show them!

Here are all of my current projects, apart from the Desserts of the Month Club which I still have to restart (with correct placement on the fabric this time). This is in order from the list I posted last time.

Autumn Maiden (Mirabilia):




















Halloween Carousel Horse:















Halloween Motif Pumpkin:




















Hogwarts Crest:




















I'm Late! I'm Late! (The White Rabbit of Alice in Wonderland):












Larkspurs (July Flower of the Month):




















Valentine Heart:
















Welcome + 4 Of A Kind:















Winter Maiden (Mirabilia):



















Woodland Sampler:

















Ta-Da! The White Rabbit was started and completed a long time ago, the Larkspurs begun a few years ago now, but never finished, while the rest were begun November of last year or sooner. Among them, the longest continuously worked-on have been the Mirabilia. The rest are pretty simple and short, but I have left off doing them in favour of other projects and so left them undone. It's my goal in the next year (hopefully before my birthday in June!) to have this list made of fully completed projects. I think after that, I'll start more Winter themed projects, since I've gotten a lot of Halloween in the works. (:

Hmm, I wonder what I should plan for? Probably shouldn't think about it too much, or I'll get too interested in beginning more projects. XD I had intended to post about my Mirabilia on the 8th, but that never happened - it was the first year marker for how long I've been working on it! A whole year. . . . it will be weird to finish it. Perhaps I should work on the warm side (Spring and Summer) after I've completed it? Ack, no wondering!! Or I'll get started on it without finishing the others first. XD

Until next time! May your stitching be tangle and knot free this winter!

~x~

Cross Stitch Update and the Cleaning Bug Bites!

The cleaning bug finally bit me! I got started on my Winter Cleaning - sort of like Spring Cleaning - and got loads done in one evening. I've sorted out my clothes properly for the first time in a long while, and ended up with two full bags of stuff I need to either give away or cut up for new projects. I tend toward the latter since I hate having to go buy more fabric, but I don't want to hang onto everything. Therefore I came up with a provisional bag - one is definitely get rid of, the second has the pieces I could possibly rework at the top, and I'll keep it for a few months to see if I ever really do get around to using them. If not, I'll get rid of them so they won't keep cluttering me up.

I also made a compilation of all the books I've bought at second-hand stores - the Friends of the Library, really, though there were a few purchases from thrift stores. I have nearly 50 books bought since June! I don't know for sure before that, since I didn't mark them down. But that's really quite a lot of books in six months! Unfortunately my books actually read list isn't nearly so impressive. >_<

It's time to update the list of cross stitch! This list is comprised of all my cross stitch projects, finished or not - those that aren't done yet are marked with a single asterisk. Each link goes to the most recent update of the project named, excepting Larkspurs, the Valentine Heart, and the Hogwarts Crest. Next post, I'll have photos of them to finally add to my blog!

A - Lady Autumn*
B
C - Carousel Horse, Halloween*
D - Dessert of the Month Club*
E
F
G
HHalloween Motif Pumpkin, Hogwarts Crest
I - I'm Late! I'm Late! (White Rabbit from Alice In Wonderland)
J
K
L - Larkspurs* (Flower of the Month for July)
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V - Valentine Heart
W - Welcome*, Winter Maiden*, Woodland Sampler*
X
Y
Z
This is more a collection of what I've posted about on the blog - the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland is an old finish, but one that's on the blog. Larkspurs is similar. The rest though are pretty recent works! The major changes are moving the Mini Desserts to D instead of M by using it's proper title, and the addition of the two Mirabilia Maidens as separate pieces. The Woodland Sampler has been added, the pattern I intend to stitch for another Hogwarts Crest is deleted. You can see the old list here.

My main goal in the coming months then is to finish up all the projects already on this list - get rid of all the little stars that say 'not quite there yet.' As you can see, that's really all the list is so far - there are maybe two on there that are completed.

I'll get to work on scanning some photos, as well as updating the Completed Works page. I don't know what happened there, but I know had much more on there than I do right now. I'll have to mess around with it for a bit to get it to where I want it, and then it'll be up and ready for all to see! Until then -

~x~

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Tinker Bell

Note: The original purpose of this blog post is no longer relevant. I have reworked this post to remove the old information; this post doesn't even really need to be on here anymore, but the photos in this post are highly popular, so it stays!

I love the Tinker Bell movies. That may make me weird as an adult, but they are fun movies.

Queen Clarion is the mother figure of the film. She can manifest at will, and the most enchanting part is that when she arrives to the court and manifests in her glowing golden form, she comes in the form of four glowing balls of light that combine and form her full self.

 


In the first of the films, Queen Clarion plays a very visible role, imparting wisdom and guiding the pixies around her. She is the one to enable each new pixie's wings with flight, and helps them all find their path in life at Pixie Hollow. My favourite part is just after she has arrived to Tinker Bell's introduction to Pixie Hollow, and she says:

"Born of laughter, clothed in cheer, happiness has brought you here." 

In the world of Tinker Bell, pixies (or fairies - though there is a difference between the two, in these movies the names are used interchangeably) are born from the first laugh a baby makes. But what better thing to be told when you're first born into the world? That seems like a grand way of life to me

I am a huge fan of the Seasons, the way humans represent each section of the year symbolically and the holidays that fill them. My particular favourite is Winter, which means that I went into the latest of the Tinker Bell films with a hopeful bias that this was going to be the best of the series.

In the previous three or four movies, Tinker Bell is very much a part of the warm side of the year, traversing through spring and summer, with an occasional glance at Autumn. Winter is a side to the year that she literally never looks at except for a few moments in the first film where she is going to Tinker's Nook, her new home. There they are introduced as nearly elfin types, tall and thin, and very pale, all of them exhausted from their work on the Mainland (England) where they have just finished bringing in the Winter.



Skip to the Secret of the Wings. This is the first time we see this side of the Hollow up close, and all of a sudden there are a lot of things changing in the makeup of their world. In the first film we see all of the seasons interconnected, all touching each other, and meeting up in the centre where the Pixie Dust Tree grows.

As Tinker Bell leaves the tree for the first time, headed to her new home in Tinker's Nook as a Tinker Fairy, she actually flies through Winter, and thus sees the tired Winter Fairies. But in the Secret of the Wings, the next time we officially see the cold part of the year, it's all of a sudden disconnected, removed from the heart of Pixie Hollow, and is actually forbidden to the other fairies.


In this photo, you can clearly see all three of the other seasons - Spring, Summer, and Autumn - all have a monopoly on the tree - the Pixie Dust Tree being the big green one in the middle with the gleam of gold at the centre. There is no room for Winter to even exist; it's been cast out somehow between the first movie and this one. Winter is actually behind you in this picture, a perfect boundary line beyond Autumn that doesn't seem to touch Spring. No longer does it reach to the heart of Pixie Hollow like the other Seasons do. It even has its own pipeline that allows Pixie Dust to reach the Winter side of the Hollow.



The perfect line between the Seasons

There are two other main changes to the film that break drastically from the first. In this movie it's actually forbidden for fairies 'of the warm seasons' to enter Winter, and it is also forbidden for Winter fairies to cross to the warm seasons. What about Autumn? That's not a warm season, but for some reason, they all seem to be lumped together as a warm 3/4 of the year and a measly 1/4 of the year for Winter alone. Talk about unbalanced.


The second change is who rules Winter. In the original film, the court is evenly divided between male and female, with Queen Clarion above them all, as you can see in the picture when Clarion appears at the Pixie Dust Tree.



Here we have Autumn in brown in the back on the right, Spring in blue and purple in the back on the left, Summer in the front on the left in a gown made of a giant flower, and in front on the right is Winter, in an ice blue gown and severe hairstyle. Each of them have the position of 'Minister' so they are the Minister of Autumn, Minister of Winter, and so on.






Then comes Secret of the Wings. Now only three of the Ministers report to Queen Clarion, and the fourth is locked up in Winter. The title of the three has remained Minister, while all of sudden there is a Lord of Winter. Lord Milori. Now the seasons are definitely unbalanced! There are three male and only one female leader of a season - Summer.

So what has happened to Pixie Hollow? One season has been completely remade, while the others potter along as usual. There are no excuses for these changes either - the rule that warm fairies could not enter Winter nor Winter fairies cross to the warmer seasons is presented as having always been in place since the founding of Pixie Hollow. The reason for this ban is that warm fairies' wings will freeze in the cold air, and the cold fairies' wings will become too warm outside of their domain - in both cases, they will break and the fairy will never be able to fly again.
I think again of when the pixies flew freely between the seasons in the first movie. Though they rubbed their arms in cold, they never talked about wings freezing. A final change to the Winter Pixies is that they no longer hold their elfin stature, but have shrunk to look as the others do, though generally remain a bit thinner than the warmer fairies. In the first film, they are completely covered in clothing, in this one, they dress as skimpy as Tink does.
Not only sisters, but twins, their wings are a match
The message of the film though does make up somewhat for this complete disregard of original features of the land they had created. The bond of sisters is more fought over and considered more precious than the somewhat-love-story between Tink and Terence (one of the fairies who delivers pixie dust to all who live in Pixie Hollow). And it is this sisterly bond, not the love of Clarion and Milori, that crosses the gap and brings the world of Pixie Hollow back to a cohesive whole as it used to be, with freely crossing fairies between the seasons.

I don't mean that romantic relationships aren't important - but in the overall scheme, they make a very small percentage of the relationships any human being will have. A relationship is defined as a connection, the state of being related to something else. You'll have relationships with nearly everyone you meet, but each one of those is a degree of knowing - an acquaintance, a close friend, the bond between family members; the relationships that aren't so good as between rivals, or even hatred, can be the type of relationship you have with another. Even if you have many romantic attachments during your life, there will be plenty more with whom you are never so involved. And it is nice to see a series of movies that plays with this idea, this knowledge of relationships, whether or not the creators do it consciously. Most kids movies will have a romantic theme, even if it's understated. Usually someone will fall in love - and while at the end of the Secret of the Wings Sled, the Winter Fairy, and Rosetta the Flower Fairy, have an immediate attraction between each other, it's still very much the minority in the film. This makes up a few spare seconds in total, with about three lines exchanged. In comparison with the first film, where there are no romantic attachments, and the third film (The Great Fairy Rescue) which focuses on the father-daughter aspect, though poorly, this addition makes no great weight in the favour of typical movies.

Others in the Tinker Bell series have touched on some pretty cool topics along these lines, such as the fan-favourite in this house, "Legend of the Neverbeast." These movies really aren't so bad.

~x~

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Elf on the Shelf and the Christmas Rant

I have mixed feelings about Christmas. Not that I don't like the holiday, I do. There are holidays I like better than Christmas, but I do love the feeling around Christmas. There's a special aura around the holiday, like the one you get around Halloween when the air is cool and crisp and seems saturated with magic. Christmas is like that, but gentler. There's a glow that comes from more than lights on a tree or chill-tipped noses. After New Year, the feeling is harsh, like strip lights in a basement - bleak and bare. Christmas is a warm glow that builds rapidly to the day, and then vaporises nearly immediately. The feeling around Halloween lingers - it feels like Halloween long after the holiday has passed. I have a better 'connection' to the cold half of the year - I don't get feelings off of the 4th of July, for instance, or Easter, or Valentine's day even. It's this season of fall that just glows with something extra.

Now that I've weirded out those who visit this blog, let me continue with something that will put that 'feeling stuff' into context. I like this time of year. I really do. This time of year is fabulous. The world around you lights up at night with strands of glowing bulbs and greenery, and there are festive red ribbons everywhere. It's beautiful, whether or not there's any snow or other obvious signs of winter. If we all decorated for other seasons - putting up big bows and bunting of flowers around the summertime for instance - I think the world would be a lot better to live in. Prettier, at any rate. XD

My point is that I have nothing against the season. I don't hate Christmas, I'm not a Grinch or a Scrooge 'who hates the whole holiday season.' Bear that in mind over the rest of this post.

I don't like many of the traditions around Christmas. There are a few more recent, a few older. Whenever I talk about holidays though, people absolutely explode - there are the typical comments such as I'm a 'hater,' whatever the hell that means, or that I just don't understand (because to understand, one must fully agree, apparently), or that if I don't like something I should just be quiet and let others enjoy it. So if you want to write those things, return the favour and let me enjoy the ability to complain. (:

Elf on the Shelf. Number one reason for writing this post. I really don't like Elf. I won't say hate, because I haven't gotten there yet. Elf sucks on so many levels. There were things I didn't know before, but since a relative of mine has started using the Elf with her little boy, I've found out more about this frankly ridiculous toy. Number one is if your child touches the toy, he loses all his magic? Excuse me? Predictably, the little guy accidentally touched the toy and completely fell apart because he'd killed his Elf. There you go, just the sort of thing you want to encourage in your household leading up to Christmas. And the remedy being cinnamon sprinkled on the Elf? Umm. . . . if you couldn't come up with a good way to fix the magical elf whose ability to be destroyed is equivalent to the delicacy of a card tower, then don't make the elf damageable! Especially not because an innocent child touched the doll!

Another thing I don't like about Elf on the Shelf is that the majority of the elves don't do 'good' things. The point is that they are there to not-so-secretly spy on the family and report back to the big man - Santa Claus - every night about the behaviour of the kids in the house. But what does elfy do? He's not checking off lists of duties the children accomplished on their own, helping out around the house himself, making nice things for the kids like food or little gifts, or doing other responsible things. He's staying up all night eating Skittles and Lollipops watching the not-so-nice movie Elf. He's wrapping toilet paper around the Christmas tree. He's drawing faces on the school pictures, or even on the baby's head with a marker. He's leaving messes of flour, feathers, marshmallows, toys, you name it - nothing you want to be teaching the youngsters. If any of your precious snowflakes drew on the baby's head and put moustaches on the all the school pictures, or stayed up all night watching movies and stuffing candy in their mouths, would you be happy? But that's what the Elf did! (And I'm not joking. Every one of those examples I've seen used.)

In a way, he reminds me of the Household or Kitchen God in China - the one you'd smear honey on the lips of or give a sticky treat to just before the new year so he would only report sweet things (or be unable to speak at all) to the Gods of Heaven on the behaviour of the family over the course of the past year. Except the Household God was the eye that was watching for good behaviour - more like Santa now - rather than the one indulging in less-than-appropriate behaviour while away from the reach of the higher-ups.

Something that encompasses the Elf as well as other portions of Christmas is the idea that children should believe that these magical beings are real. I believe in a lot of magical/mythical creatures, seriously, quite a few. I don't have a problem with belief in things that many people don't accept as factual. But I know for a fact that this Elf is something I'm doing. I'm putting him on the counter and throwing flour about, or having him parachuting down the tree. Why is it imperative for the child to believe that the elf is actually real? I was the child who never believed in a Santa Claus. Of course, I could have thought he was real when I was too young to remember it now, but I don't think I ever believed that he really existed. Maybe that's a fault on my part.

But I don't think that we need to bring Santa into the equation. Gratitude is a good thing - it should be a good thing for your children to know that their parents or their relatives took the time and spent the money to get them or make them the gifts they are receiving. Of course that doesn't mean you have to have your two year old going round the room to say proper thanks to each person for the gifts they have kindly given!! It's just - saying Santa knows what you want for Christmas is a bit of a sticking point when you can't or won't for whatever reasons get everything on that list. You aren't going to get every single Barbie on that list, or all eight different LEGO kits that cost more than $40 apiece. Or you can't find that one that they really wanted, or you just don't have the money that year, or you found other things that you know they'll really like. Then you're stuck Christmas morning explaining why Santa decided not to get them those presents this year.

Christmas doesn't lose the glow it has when you don't all implicitly believe that Santa Claus is coming down the chimney with all the gifts and coal (another rather dubious point) for all the children all over the world. And it certainly wasn't missing anything before the invention of Elf on the Shelf. Unless you're a rare example, most parents aren't going to be tallying up bad behaviour and docking presents. So even if Jimmy was terrible and neither threat of Elf nor Santa got him to behave, he still got a bunch of presents on Christmas with the rest of his brothers and sisters. Now it seems that it doesn't matter he's been less than gold. It's alright to misbehave - you'll get the gifts anyway.

Christmas still feels every bit as precious when we all gather around for a special day, whatever it means to us, for some food we don't generally eat the rest of the year, and have some extra sweets, whether or not there were gifts that year. Or is my family the odd one in the bunch? I highly doubt it. While co-workers have literally spent several thousand on gifts for a 7 year old and a 3 year old this year, most of our gifts are coming from local thrift stores. Not because we're poor, but because you find some awesome things second-hand, and you don't have to pay the price of an upscale mall. Books we've been looking for were found at a Friends of the Library sale. Does that and knowing your sister or your brother went out of their way to locate these items and gave them to you in the hopes you would like them very much lessen the spirit of the holiday? Is it only valuable and magical if we all think Santa brought them to us? Only if the giver bought them brand name for top dollar?

So that was my two cents on Christmas. I don't know how well this will be received, if at all, but there it is. I don't write this in the support of any religious viewpoint on the holiday, or anti-holiday sentiment, it's just the way I've thought about them for a while now. I know many in my immediate family disagree with some of the things I've written, but that's what happens in families. The important thing is that we all still get along despite these differences. And I hope your families will too, during the stress of travel, getting things shipped on time, and dealing with less-than-friendly family members over the course of the season!

~x~

Saturday, 7 December 2013

I Wore Lolita Out for a Day!

'Kay, so it wasn't a full outfit, but I got to wear my Lolita cuffs! I wore a short, puffy-skirt dress and a shrug over the top, the skirt and shrug both being black, and my hair up, as well as both cuffs. They were comfortable, and only one came off when I was helping put a baby seat in the van late in the evening. Whoop! I got plenty of looks, but only my Grandpa asked about 'my wristlets,' and said they should be on gloves the way they looked. :DD Very happy with them, they made me cheerful all day. Even losing one of my handmade ear cuffs didn't dampen my day.

To brighten my day, I also got my computer back from the repair shop, and it's all fixed! I only dropped it off yesterday, and it turned out it was a simple fix, and got a call around ten this morning to let me know it was ready to go. Hoorah! They're a good place; my brother and sister both got computers from there in the past. I'll have to just remember it's name. . . .  DX How do you use a place and know it's reliable, and not recall the name?!

While out at Staples - only to buy ink, my mother and I told ourselves - we realized just how much good chocolate is available there. We literally spent $30 on chocolate alone. Just the chocolate. And every bit of it is totally worth it!! We only buy dark chocolate, with small sugar amounts as a general rule - all that means is you get to eat more. XD There are chocolates with caramel, there are Godiva dark chocolate truffles, pomegranate and blueberry filled chocolates, salted almond chocolate squares, and it's all delicious! At the grocery store we picked up some sushi, and had that for lunch, so literally today was as good as it can get. It's a pity I need to lose weight. :( I gained a lot over Thanksgiving, which literally never happens, and I didn't even eat that much, but somehow it's there. New resolution to plan! Haha. I'll be fat and happy just a little longer.

There's fruitcake to make at some point too. We usually get that started at Thanksgiving and 'baste' it with alcohol until Christmas - the way you're supposed to make fruitcake. Here it is now the 12th of December, and we still haven't made any. I think Mother's still debating making it with wheat flour or not that has caused the delay. But we'll have to make some soon or we'll miss out on it entirely!

We did find an excellent eggnog - Southern Comfort brand. Tastes like cake doughnuts to me, honestly. And not having had a cake doughnut in nearly two years, that's a huge bonus for me. My sister says it's just the nutmeg, but I really don't care, as long as it's delicious! Grandmother had it, and I noticed. I like to keep an eye out for good eggnog as there have been a lot of brands in the past with high fructose corn syrup in them. This one doesn't, so I'm definitely happy to have it!
I'm just happy today. And that's a good thing. Beats being other things! Sorry for the picture-less post, I'll have to update you all soon with a massive post of photos. >:D Until then, though, here's this short little post to keep the blog from getting dusty. Thanks for reading it, go have some chocolate, smile a lot, and be happy that winter's here!

~x~

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Muff and Bonnet + Mirabilia Update!

Got crafting again! Look what I came up with:





It's by no means perfect, but it was definitely fun to do, and that's what I was looking for anyway. It's all made of felt, black and red, with two types of green ribbon, and quilt batting. As per usual, no patterns were used, so there were lots of mistakes and things that could be done better. I have no idea how to join the ends of a muff together seamlessly, so I just got a strip of felt and stitched it along the bottom. About 50% at least of the muff is actually held together by fusible web. It's not truly Lolita, but it was inspired by that style to do so. I was actually going to make a maid's cap first, even had the white lace to go with it when I realized what else I could do with the lovely felt!

What I did:



For the Bonnet, I actually have a bonnet that was made by a lovely lady in a shop in Tombstone, Arizona. Yep. It's brown with little red stars and a strip of soft lace around the hood. I used the hood part to outline what I would cut for the bonnet I made. It's not truly a bonnet since it's only the hood and no back to it, but I'm unaware of the proper title for it. It's just the one layer, with green ribbon fused on with two thin strips of fusible web. I've not come up with a closure for it yet - I need to put on a snap or button or attach the ribbon in some way (hence why I'm holding it in the photos).



For the Muff, I cut a width of black felt that I thought would be wide enough to comfortably contain both my hands. Then I cut four layers of everyday quilt batting the same width and length (on a fold, so only one 'seam'), as well as another, smaller sized rectangle of red felt (since I didn't have quite enough black felt to do the inside as well). Considering again, I should probably have sized down each layer of the batting so it would bend in a circle easier - five layers of the same size fabrics bent over causes lumps, rather than going smoothly. I let the ends lay uneven to compensate, and went with what I had. On the ends, I quickly stitched all six layers together with the widest setting on the sewing machine, just really quick stitching. I fused the ribbon on next - the wide solid ribbon in the middle, with a very narrow (just as wide as the fusible web was actually) ribbon to either side. Mine has little loops on each side of the ribbon but they aren't very noticeable.

Next I have a lot of bare edges I needed to cover. To do that, I fused on strips of black felt over all the edges but the bottom ends. To use what I had, I had to use small strips rather than one long one, so I did that as artfully as possible, laying a longer piece in the middle overlapping two smaller pieces at the ends. Then at the bottom, I grabbed another piece of felt and fused that on the front sides of both ends to hold the muff in a circle like it's supposed to be. The ends I sewed down with whipstitch. And that was it! One note about using the fusing method is that with all the steam I used on the iron, it soaked through the felt and batting. I used a hair blow dryer on the inside of the muff after I was finished so that it would be completely dry and not cause any problems later. It would be interesting to add some fur to the outside edges like most muffs, but maybe some day. I'm definitely thinking of another one with lighter fabrics to try it out again, see if I can work out a better way of doing it on my own.


Mirabilia Update!




My Mirabilia looks so nice! There has been so much stitching going on here, I'm sure my family doesn't know what to do! XD I have reached the very bottom and since getting the two last missing colours have finished the sleeves apart from two remaining medallions at the tassel at the far right (the strips of dark colour at the edge). The bottom of it however, is finally finished, not a stitch left there - it's mostly just final stitches here and there. Yay!! The hood is nearly finished, all but a few stitches in one more colour. I just finished her gloves apart from outlining and have the bird left. After that is the outline of the entire piece and the 'header' where all the lovely bare branches go. The below her will be 'Winter.' Can't wait!!

I've complained and fussed and had a lot of problems with this piece, but I'm very glad to see it coming to a close. I've been weeding out the thread colours that I no longer need in the project from the ones I do still need, and the 'don't need' pile is outweighing the 'still need' pile at last! I also have quite the jar full of thread ends, though unfortunately it seems impossible to find a clear ornament ball for them. The thread shop in town has told my Mother that it's hard to get any in the shop - they had trouble last year, and this year they have none at all. Other people have stopped by trying to find some, without luck anywhere else. I might try at Walmart for a clear plastic ornament.

In three more days it'll be a full year since I started this project! I've nearly completed one Maiden in that time, as well as half another, and plenty of time off (too much, but hey). I doubt I'll have it fully completed on Winter's side by the 8th, but I'll try my hardest to get there. Then another year for another Maiden. . . . hopefully it won't take that long though!

Time to get cracking. See if I can or can't get it done in time!

~x~

RotG Returns and Review of Santa Clause 3!

Edit: You would not believe how often the photos on this post disappear. Even today - the 13th of December, 2015 - I'm coming back to this post and having to replace photos as the originals are deleted, for reasons unknown to me. If you visit this post and one of the photos is blank or otherwise out of commission, please let me know! I will fix it right away.

Well I am pleasantly surprised - my review of Rise of the Guardians got the most hits on my blog than most other posts have in the past month or so. Thank you! In honour of that, I've decided I'll write up a review on a movie that I watched for the first time recently, and ties in with what I was talking about on my post about Rise of the Guardians.

I had talked some about my annoyance with the portrayal of winter in movies. Listing for example the White Witch from the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and the Snow Queen from Hans Christian Anderson's story. To add to this list officially is the Jack Frost of Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause.

Note: This is not a 'full review' or a recap that outlines everything that occurred. This is just mainly the big points, and even then, with Jack Frost's big plot to take over and what happened after he 'succeeded' I don't discuss in favour of other points that I did want to discuss.


This guy. . . . is basically the most classic example of Winter Did It.

In many ways, this movie is rather like Rise of the Guardians. In the bad, concept failed, sort of way. There is a Council of Legendary Figures, including Father Time, Mother Nature, the Tooth Fairy, the Sand Man, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Cupid, and Jack Frost. The difference between the movies here though is the way these characters are portrayed. The Easter Bunny is some awful costume suit that makes no apologies for how badly done it is, with a horrible wriggly 'sniffing' nose.

Cupid is a badly computerized man with a 'toga' and wings, and nothing else as he is proud to ignore the suggestion he wear a diaper since he's flying above everyone else. Nice. The Sand Man actually isn't all that bad, compared to the others, wearing a long nightcap and always on the verge of falling asleep. Mother Nature is a dark-skinned woman with an absolutely gorgeous headdress, with bundles of kindling - I mean, the bounty of the Earth - strapped around her waist. Tooth Fairy just has dentist's tools in his pockets and dinky wings that make an occasional appearance. I guess the budget ran out when they got around to him. Father Time wasn't bad, and I think that's because he didn't have many lines to destroy his character with. Wait, does he speak at all?


The whole of the movie is about strengthening the relationship between Mr. and the new Mrs. Claus. There's a baby on the way and parents to invite and the decision to make on whether or not to allow more people into the know that Santa Claus really exists. The way they get there though is the classically annoying path that I was speaking of earlier - it's all Winter's fault.

The Council, with a paper cutout of the vain Jack Frost in the back
In a way similar to Rise of the Guardians, Jack Frost is left on the outside pretty much. The excuse he has for being jealous of Santa Claus is that he doesn't have a holiday, he just heralds a season. The interesting thing about that though is that the vast majority of the rest of the Council don't have holidays either. Mother Nature doesn't exactly have a holiday. Neither do the Tooth Fairy, the Sand Man, and technically not Cupid either, though he'd have more to do on Valentine's Day. Father Time doesn't have a holiday of his own, unless you want to use New Year's. The only ones on the Council therefore that have obvious holidays they work towards all year would be the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus. So not exactly a plausible reason for JF to be all that jealous.

His plot to overthrow Santa Claus involves the Hall of Snow Globes, which have the power to remove a Santa Claus from his position - he just has to hold his snow globe and say that he wishes he had never become Santa Claus. Then he gets stuck back in his previous life as though nothing had ever happened - but with all the same time passed. So it's been 12 years since Scott Calvin became Santa Claus. Reversing his decision to be Santa means that he gets stuck into his world 12 years after he made that decision. He doesn't go back 12 years and start over, he just appears in the middle of whatever conversation he would have been having had he never become Santa, without the same knowledge he would have had if those 12 years had been spent a regular human. A little. . . . weird.

So Jack wants to become Santa in Scott's stead, sending Scott back to whatever world he would have otherwise had, and become famous. The movie takes a lot of time showing his hijinks, overheating the oven so the cakes burn, speeding up printing so the lists of naughty and nice come pouring out and fills up the room with paper, makes a coffee machine blow up - relatively small mischievous actions. These all build up and back the workshop right up so they're running behind on Christmas Eve. Mrs. Claus' parents have been invited to the Pole and the workshop so that she can be with them during her pregnancy, and they've somehow been able to fool both of her parents that they are actually just in Canada.

There are some funny/cute moments, but most of it was dull. But then the end came - after the whole Jack Frost takeover and reversal of his takeover so technically nothing ever happened - and they had to 'fix' Frost. His heart has to be melted so he can be kind and loving again - because being of Winter, it needs destroying, or fixing like he's broken. His entire appearance cracks and melts away until he's left in an entirely different suit of white, and his hair is dark and smooth.



I suppose I'm just overreacting to a badly done film. But it would be nice to have a change up in the plotline. Couldn't it have been a warm spirit? Something of the summer that was jealous of the festivities in winter? That would have worked just as well as twisting Jack Frost into some greedy 'legendary figure' that wanted to steal Christmas - which is another overused theme.

On another thread altogether, my computer is currently in a bad state - it's been broken pretty badly, and I can't use it at the moment. It may be possible to fix it, though I won't know for sure until I've taken it by a repair shop. Right now I'll be posting off another computer, like I'm doing now, which I can only use about twice a week at most, as it belongs to another person in my family. I'll be writing another post today updating my cross stitch - which has come along in amazing ways!! - so the two days will be lots-of-posts days. Until later!

~x~

Thursday, 28 November 2013

I Burned My Face Off + Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and now it is time for the Christmas traditions to kick in, full speed ahead! Our particular traditions are made up of watching Scrooge at some point after dinner on Thanksgiving - which we have done, watching our favourite adaptation of it being the one with Patrick Stewart as Ebenezer Scrooge. The Grandparents love the version with Al Finney, the musical version of Scrooge, but not being huge fans of musicals, and preferring book-to-screen accuracy rather than another jazzy number down the streets, we all much prefer Patrick Stewart's version.

Tomorrow means putting up the Christmas Tree! This year we've gotten a new tree, since the old one has been with us for several years - I want to say ten, but I'm no longer sure. DX We also got two small trees, the kind designed for setting out on the front porch. Mother is set on the idea of having a small tree for the small and fragile ornaments so these little guys are probably going to be in the house rather than on the porch. It's also the year for buying new lights, lighted garlands to go outside rather than just bare strands. O.O Before long we'll have to buy more ornaments - no, I highly doubt that will ever happen. Too many boxes of them! Which luckily we get to bring upstairs tomorrow to work off the Thanksgiving food. XD
 
Now for the interesting bit. I burned my face off. Yes, quite literally. And no, it wasn't for being foolish and trying to fry a turkey.

Lately I've been using AcneFree, basically Proactive but available at Walmart. It's been effective on my face, though rough - I've taken to putting my own lotion on top of the lotion they give you, since that dries out my face more than the wash does!! Anyway, they warn you that it will make your skin sensitive to the sun, and so you should wear some form of protection.

Yesterday, we went out for the last things we needed for Thanksgiving dinner, and I decided not to put on any foundation makeup. I didn't even think about it. It was a particularly sunny day, though cold, so we were all bundled up. As we drive down the road and make our first stop, my sister and Mother went in while I waited in the car. My face just burned. It was like my face was scraped raw and on fire all at the same time. Then I remembered the warning on my face wash. I pulled out my cellphone and called them in the store, and asked them to pick up a BB cream or something with sunscreen in it (BB creams all have sunscreen in them). They bought a bottle of True Match foundation, which had a light sunscreen in it, about 17 SPF, and I put that on in the car.

I had literally burned a layer of skin off - it was all dead and dry, and looked terrible in the makeup, but I went out and finished our shopping. It was painful just to rest my face on the pillow last night! Ugh, not making that mistake again, I certainly hope. I'm all pink and new for Thanksgiving, at least. DX

On the cross stitching front, I've nearly gotten to the very base of Winter's Maiden - within a row or two of stitches!! Finally, getting close to the end of this Maiden! Perhaps after all the music, decorating, and trees of tomorrow, I'll be able to get a picture up of her.

Now to eat the rest of the turkey. . . . Happy Thanksgiving all!
~x~

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Resolution Prep

It's nearly December - only 4 more days to go - and I've started planning out my resolutions earlier than I have ever done! I made this post in December of last year (the day after Christmas) and this post shortly after the New Year when 2013 was still just a baby.

Now 2013 is nearly as old as it will get and it's almost time for a new baby year to arrive. As with any baby's due date, there's a lot to prepare for those about to be parents - or embark on a new year. For some reason, these resolutions and sticking to a new plan seems to be more important than any year before, and it's a little sobering to have a blog up where I can see the things I wrote a full year ago, not even considering the months to come and how one day I would look back on those old posts. Now it seems to be more about looking ahead to the times I'll be looking back on - I think I've watched too much Doctor Who lately. DX

I know what you're thinking - there's an entire month left to be thinking about a new year, two more major (American) holidays to get through before we should even start bothering the new baby. We should stick around with the elderly for a while and see this year through to the end before considering the next. At any rate, that's generally the attitude about another year. Even if it gets totally screwed up and I don't accomplish any of my resolutions, I still approach another year with a lot of thought about what I have and haven't done over the past 12 (or 11) months and what I'd like to adjust there.

I've accomplished about half of the things on my previous year's list - most of which weren't actually 'resolutions.' One of the things I'm adjusting this year is the idea of a resolution and what is a plan. Studying all of the lessons in a certain language program isn't really a resolution - studying a language for an hour a day is a resolution. So I've created two lists, one for a resolutions and one for plans that I hope to achieve in the coming twelve, or rather thirteen months since I don't plan on getting it all set out and then kicking back for a month before 'officially' beginning.

One of the things I've already started using is the checklist. Today, it's already helped me stay on track with what I wanted to do. I suppose a resolution of mine should be to improve my memory! I'm not overly fond of making lists, especially for the planning of a day, since I'm never sure if I've overloaded my day or if I've not gotten enough on. It depends on a lot of factors - such as if there will be enough light in the bedroom while brother takes a nap for me to stitch, or will he be on good enough behavior that I can get my cross stitch out while he plays? Can I plan for a walk tomorrow or is the weather going to continue being drippy (which I like) so that we have to stay inside? Should I think of something else to do with that time? Certain days of the week, sometimes all week, I don't have a solid hour to work on languages because I've got to take care of a very active toddler. Should I plan on listening to my language audio during his nap then? Will he lay down for his nap easily today? So it's a juggling act just thinking of what I want to do the next day. List-making therefore is not easily my friend, and I don't enjoy making them. However, I want to have lists, especially of the checking-off kind, so that I can remember to do the things I need to have done before the day's end, and have the things I want to have done in a separate place so that I can add to my day as I need. Supplement lists for activities rather than vitamins!

So while other people's lists can be 'vacuum, dust, do the laundry, stretch before bed,' mine is more like 'wash breakfast dishes, remember vitamins, make such-and-so for lunch,' with a side column of 'Plans' with things like 'cross stitch - Mirabilia today, pick out the 12 non fiction books for the next year, and review list of unfinished K-Dramas so I can pick the one I want to watch in the evenings' - but all of these are possibles. They don't have to be, and often won't be, checked off, because other things happen. Toddler rips all the labels off the sewing thread - baby powder poured everywhere requires extensive cleaning - bathroom break on my part results in food everywhere on his part. There goes the time I had for that plan! But that's okay, since it wasn't something I needed to do. The dishes got tidied, and both of us got our vitamins, and had something decent for lunch rather than a quick scramble for snacks. And that's better than having a lot of cross stitching finished, or another chapter of my NaNoWriMo novel completed. Even this blog post was delayed in the posting, because shortly after I finished writing this paragraph, little one hopped up in my lap and laid down since he was tired - earlier than usual!

Anyway, that's been the best part of really considering my resolution list ahead of time - making myself realize that there are things that need to be done, and things that would be nice to have accomplished, but don't need to be. So my resolutions this year have been a little more complex than previous years, taking up a few drafts and versions, as well as being written on different pages so I know what needs doing, and what I want to have done. It might be a little weird or OCD, or totally normal among parents and caretakers. While I have had to discover it before I became a parent myself, I don't mind it at all - it's rather nice to have to think about things differently. Back to nap time for me! Perhaps I can get some language audio in after all. (:
~x~

Monday, 25 November 2013

Stitchy Plans!

I've gotten a few things all lined up and ready to go! As well as having started on them, but hey.

First, I have to get it out of my system: Lolita.

There I said it.

I'm not going to go into the whole origins of the fashion, as that's a bit of a sore spot with people disagreeing or agreeing or thinking it's wrong or whatever - you can look that up and take it as you wish. I'm taking it as it is today: a totally awesome fusion fashion that is just gorgeous.

The main goal of the whole outfit is to make the wearer look as youthful and doll-like as possible. This is mostly achieved with a Victorian-esque look, so lots of lace, and lots of that style of clothing. Long sleeves, high collars, but skirts usually hit about two inches or so above the knee - no longer than the knee itself, like a child's skirt or a doll's.


This is obviously only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to a fashion, of course. There are many branches - Angelic Pretty, Sweet Lolita, Gothic Lolita, etc. There are even other countries' styles, including Qi Lolita and Wu Lolita that are Chinese versions of the Lolita style, incorporating Chinese themes in place of Japanese. Because that is where it all started - Japan.

Along with Harajuku, Japan is rather well known for their odd and quirky fashion statements, but this is one I just absolutely adore. It incorporates so much of what I like and strive for - beauty, elegance, innocence, all wrapped up into one. Acting childlike and sweet is all part of Lolita, though you don't have to. Mary Janes or thick-heeled pumps, petticoats, bloomers, fluffy full skirts, it's just so. . . . so . . . . Awesome!

I've been a fan of Lolita for a while, keeping an eye on the image searches for new pictures of more Goth Lolis and Sweet Lolis and. . . . it just keeps going! And with my latest sort-of-success with my Hanbok, I finally realized - I can make this myself.

So I am! I have already completed one piece, lace cuffs that are a common thing in nearly all the branches of Lolita style. I have a skirt that's pinned together, prepped for sewing, as well as a petticoat made of yards and yards of tulle. There's a coat that's still in the planning stage - I have limited fabric at the moment, so I want to be sure of what I want, and there are so many attractive coats out there that I'm having trouble choosing. I definitely want a hood, though I would also like to have a cape bit to it. At any rate, it won't likely be a very warm coat since the options are everyday fabrics, nothing thick or woolen. I don't mind really - I hardly get out and about enough to warrant a jacket, and I've got five of those!

My lace cuffs:


Posted on DeviantArt with more info!
I'm thinking about dressing up the bonnet I have, though that will take a trip to the store for more lace. I've asked for fabric alone this year as Christmas gifts - I want to be able to create as much as I can before I run out of ideas!! Though that is unlikely. ^.^

Yes, I know my cross stitching blog is turning more into a crafting blog for anything with a needle, as well as reviews for everything else that doesn't, but - hey it says it up there, right under the title: Cross Stitching, Musing, and Living. That's sort of a broad span, right? Right? Stick around cross stitchers, I'll have updates for you yet! (:

~x~

Sunday, 24 November 2013

A Rise of the Guardians Review: On Winter, Belief, and Other Things

So a day or two ago we finally got the movie, Rise of the Guardians. I had seen this movie back when it was first released on DVD, through Netflix - we had it on hold the moment it had a listing on their website, and waited eagerly for the movie to be available at last so we could see it. Watching it again today was a great treat, and I still loved it just as much as the first (hundred) times I saw it. This post has a few spoilers, nothing too explicitly stated, so even if you read this first it shouldn't ruin you for the film.



There are a couple of reasons this movie is so good, and I'm thinking a lot of it is because of the hard work and attention to detail from the illustrated books that came before that could be drawn from. The amount of detail in the backgrounds is quite astonishing as films go. There are a lot of scripts, and by this I mean not-English, and more often not-Latin alphabets dotted about: one girl's room, Cupcake's room, has posters with Korean writing on them; at the start of the film, we get to see this nearly Elvish (think J. R. R. Tolkein) writing all over the globe, and then Russian as Jack Frost goes blowing through Russia. Later there are billboards and bedroom posters of Chinese - it's just everywhere! The colours are rich and each space has goodies to look for that you won't notice the first time you watch, nor the second, nor the third. There's always something more to find.


I especially love the emotions portrayed on the character's faces, the split second reactions that human beings have that are often left out in animated films - an eyebrow twitch, a barely-there smirk or smile at another on the screen, not obvious but so lifelike. The interactions between Jack Frost and Pitch Black (the baddie) are very good, filled with these momentary ways of communication that human beings have. Nothing is glossed over for any reason - it's just so spot on all the time. (And I particularly like the Sherlock-y theme song they have in the credits. Gets me in the mood for a BBC Sherlock episode.)

There are also a few more things in the movie that I like for not so obvious reasons. It's a pretty pervasive theme for movies to make winter the bad guy (I'm looking at you Santa Clause), so it was refreshing to see a film go the other way and have a good portrayal of winter in Jack Frost.

Other examples would be the White Witch in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Or Hans Christian Anderson's The Snow Queen. The closest Winter gets to a nice representation is Santa Claus. In Rise of the Guardians however, winter is shown as fun and playful through the character of Jack Frost, someone out to make people's lives happier, get the load of the day off your shoulders.

The same with the moon - instead of the Sun being the director of cheer in the world, it's 'Man in the Moon,' referred to as Manny by Santa Claus (who is also in this movie, as a jolly Russian version with massive and freaking awesome tattoos on either arm).

Other things are brought up indirectly through the interactions of the characters - how Santa is full of wonder, and that is what he brings to the world, how Jack is full of playful mischief, and that is what he brings to the world, and most interestingly of all how Pitch is full of fear, and that is what he brings to the world. It's only hinted at in the battles between Pitch and the Sandman, where you can see he's genuinely frightened of Sandman. How the nightmares feed off of Pitch's fear, not the fear of others. It's another of those not-obvious things, in the world of animated film, or indeed just film. Unless it's explicitly stated, it's not in there. But in the movie, it's never stated outright that Pitch is full of fear, or that he is frightened of the Sandman - it's all in the small details and little reactions that a kid will likely miss, while the rest of the world is basking in the awesomeness of not having every fact screamed into your face for it to be 'real!'

I've found several other people, namely on DeviantART and Tumblr for starters, that are as obsessed, and generally more so, than I am about this movie - I'm not joking in the slightest. It really is a brilliant film. Go check it out, you won't be disappointed!!

~x~