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!

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. (:

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! (:


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!!


Friday, 15 November 2013

Progress Pics and Fluff

So here they are: where I am on the Maidens of the Seasons II.

Unluckily my scanner bed is too short to put all of the Winter Maiden in on one go, so it's spliced together from two shots, hence the line; nor is it wide enough to put both Maidens on at the same time. I haven't added any more to the Autumn side since I posted about it in June this year. There's a mistake in the bottom rows where I had begun to work on the lower half that I need to figure out and fix. Ever since then, the Winter side has had more attention, and it isn't looking bad! The shading is blocky and sloppy and irritates me something awful, but I'm going with it. It'll look better when it's all finished. I hope. I'm missing two colours that will fill in the stripes on the far right of her and over the arm, so those will remain blank for a while. Since I've replaced the beading, the medallion shapes on the white trim were just squares of blue, so I outlined the entire section supposed to be beaded with the same dark blue as the center, and I'm debating doing the same with the blue strips between each. They look more like shading than deliberate designs like the medallions though, so I'm not sure I will - it just depends. The bird she's holding will need a colour change as well - it calls for 317 and 318 as the shading for the bottom of the bird which I'm guessing is a dove. 317 is a seriously dark grey, while the top of the bird is white. The middle colour is a white shade not even distinguishable from plain white, and gives no transition from the top to the bottom, so I'll have to find a grey to go between the white and the dark bottom, or replace the darker shading completely with lighter greys/creams.

The bottom is nearly reached! I'm just a little bit away from the very base of her, so it's rather exciting to stitch! I'll be a little sad to move back to the Autumn side to catch up, though I much prefer the shading and style of Autumn's side. I said before I like the nearly stained-glass appearance of Winter's side but the artist in me complains at the uneven transitions between lighter and darker colours in the sleeves. The chest, with the purple before the collar, did a brilliant job of transitioning the darker into the lighter with no middle colour, using dithering around the edges. The insides of her sleeves on the other hand are just blocks of different shades, no attempt made to connect them aside from using higher and lower numbers in sequence.

Next time, I'm picking a project that is more artsy, so I'll stop fussing, honestly.

On another note, it's been nearly a year since I started this project! I posted the first picture of it back in December 2012, my first attempt at linen. I wonder how far I'll be on 9 December this year, the actual anniversary?

It's halfway through November, and I'm not halfway through my novel. I'm about eight thousand words short. I wrote 7,000 words two days ago, straight out, no breaks, in an attempt to catch up and erase a 21,000 word shortage. You're supposed to write around 1,667 words every day. If you write that many every day, you end up with 50,000 at the end of November. Whee! But it's not as simple as that. You've got to come up with it all on your own. Even with a fleshed out outline, there's still a lot of work to do describing your settings and moving characters from point A to point B in a hopefully 'seamless' manner. Ha. Cross stitching from a pattern is relatively easy - it's got the colours all picked out for you, the stitches marked, you've just got to thread the needle and go. It's rather like having an outline, full character descriptions, and dialogue ideas given to you, and being told to write the novel. Not much effort. But I will succeed! I've written three novels and over a dozen short stories, I can write this! Ugh. . . .

I look forward most to descriptive scenes. It's where I feel the strongest and the weakest at the same time. I want to give readers a full sense of the world they've entered, from the smells and tastes to the scenery and clothing. My favourite parts so far are the beginning when the first pieces of the story are being set up and I get to describe the heat of summer; how the skies are so close the stars threaten to fall right into your cup, as well as the revels the city holds for the summer solstice (the new year in that world) where the fresh seafood and early vegetables are all brought in for a feast. Since I'm so in love with Hanbok, I've incorporated that style of clothing in the novel, and I love being able to bring that into the scenes, describing billowing skirts and the towering hairstyles of the rich ladies and gisaengs.

At the same time, I wonder if I'm describing it well enough. Would the average American who has no idea what Hanbok looks like be able to imagine what I'm talking about? Hanbok seems to be left out in the idea of what Asian clothing can look like - Kimono takes center stage, with some versions of Manchu and Hanfu Chinese styles appearing alongside. It's one of those things that bugs me about Oriental cross stitch patterns, or patterns that do 'Around the World' sets - Korea is left out every time, and it's such a distinctive piece, something just as recognizable and beautiful as Kimono that surely it should be included? It's also a cause for celebration if I do find patterns with Hanbok in it, and is why I love Soda Stitch so much. I suppose it's not my place to complain about it, though.

Anyway, that's enough writing here for someone who's supposed to be working on a novel! I'll go work on actually adding dialogue someplace in there. . . . .


Thursday, 14 November 2013

Return of the Maidens! + Crafty Plans

So for the past few days, I've been alternating working on my NaNoWriMo novel and stitching my Winter Maiden. May I just say how much I love stitching? You can listen to music, or language lessons, or a movie, or just about anything else and you can still feel like you're 'doing something.' One of the things I love to do is play silly games on Facebook - like Candy Crush - while I listen to my language lessons. Win-win situation! Stitching is like that. I can get things done that I can look at later and say 'see, I did something with my time' rather than reaching the end of another day with nothing materially accomplished.

It's a nicely narrowed down bunch of colours I'm working with on the lower side of the Maiden. Instead of the many colour switches up at the top, there are swaths of colour to work where I don't have to stop and restart with a new colour (though there are some of those anyway) as soon. Which means more can get done quickly! I had a sort of vague dream that I would have this project finished by the end of this year, but that's a very ambitious dream at this point, especially with the novel on the other hand taking up time that could have been spent stitching. Since I equally enjoy the working of both, it's difficult to pick which one I'm going to do!

With Mirabilia and the novel, I don't think I'll pick up the Woodland Sampler again until December at the earliest. Then I'll have the time taken by the novel freed up (mostly) so I'll be able to fill it with another project, though that may or not happen. I've also got to find the time to either buy or create an ornament for this year's leftover threads! I think some people call them ort jars? As you stitch, when you bind off ends and such, you end up with little scraps of thread that you can't use. And I've been dutifully collecting that for a few months now, so I've got quite a good bit to deal with. I had thought of just stitching it up into a little cushion-y thing, maybe with one of the little Christmas ornament patterns I got from the Goodwill stash bag I got a while ago, but my Mother reminded me they make clear glass ornaments for precisely that reason. Well, maybe not for putting thread bits in, but so you can fill it with what you like! So that's a possibility too. Hopefully the trip to the appropriate store for such an ornament will also mean an awesome fabric buy too for -

The clothes stitching bug has hit again! Yes, I did not exhaust my creativity with the finishing of my first grand-scale clothing project. I've messed around with some fabric this evening and got a dress in the works - repurposing a damaged skirt so there's just a top to create and attach.

And I'm going to make another Hanbok jeogori. It's just going to happen. I'd love to make another Hanbok. Who am I kidding, I'd love to make SEVERAL more Hanbok. I've got so many ideas - a summer version with light colours and curved sleeves like more modern styles, a winter version/coat with fur trim and maybe try my hand at that funny hat! Don't even get me started on fusion Hanbok (traditional pieces mixed with modern pieces), because I might as well open a business before I could explore all the possibilities there. Seriously.

Summery version with curved sleeves:

Gorgeous fusion

Funny hat:

I just don't have the fabric for another skirt (yet). I have enough for at least one more Jeogori, probably two or three, but right now I'm a little limited by the fact that I only have the one skirt. I could make another out of the same fabric since I have a lot left, but two skirts of the same colour would be a waste of time. I did take a look at the Habitat store, which is where I got the purple fabric in the first place, but none of the few bolts they had available appealed. Which is fine, since its purpose isn't a fabric store, but I had hoped for more good luck in that department! Getting a lot of good quality fabric like that for cheap isn't going to happen often.

Lately my 2013 Resolutions List has been on prominent display, though I did really well this year in not once losing it! I usually lose it for a few months every year, and have it reappear right around the end of December. This time I've managed to keep the sprites who have been stealing everything else from nicking it too (somehow. I'd love to know the trick), and I've got about ten finished. Six to go! Anyone else been keeping an eye on their Resolutions? It's almost time to start thinking about making new ones. O.O

Pictures of the Mirabilia will have to come tomorrow. I'll have to try the scanner method again! I may scan all my works that I can and replace pictures in older posts for clarity. XD I'll also work on the dress and get photos of that process up for any who might be interested. Cheers!


Saturday, 2 November 2013

NaNoWriMo and the After Halloween Crash

Wow was everyone fun the day after Halloween. Candy hangovers should have cures like alcohol does! I didn't want any candy the day of, but next day I was wolfing down chocolate like there was no tomorrow. Seriously. Apparently that does wonders for the imagination, because all night I had wacky dreams about writing novels.

So what does one do after a night of novels? She gets up and joins National Novel Writing Month, of course. See my word counter up there? Six thousand words baby. 8D Want to have a shot at it? Sign up online (totally free, with charts to keep track of your word counts) here.

Today was mostly spent out and about, dealing with screaming baby brothers, and writing. My brain's not quite wrung out yet, so I'll probably get some revising of what I'm planning to write going, and maybe pick up some stitching before bed. Luckily I've discovered a few K-Pop songs that I'm absolutely addicted to that will get me writing - namely NU'EST's Sleep Talking, Tasty's MaMaMa, and Ladies' Code's Hate You. Those are all mixed up in my playlist, but I'll keep them on rerun somehow!

I'll try to get back in the swing of posting regularly again, and picking back up with the Freebies Spotlight. I like to think that'll make it easier to locate the patterns anyone will be trying to find, so that'll keep going until someone begs me to stop being annoying. XD