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Taking Part in a Book Lover’s Tag

Taking Part in a Book Lover's Tag, the artyologist, featureMy current book stack. 

I saw a while ago that Victoria from Ruffles and Grace took part in a “Book Lover’s Tag”, and though I wasn’t personally tagged in it, it sounded like a lot of fun, so I decided to join in as well. So read on, to find out some of my favourite books, reading habits, and what’s on my reading list.

1. Name a book you’re embarrassed to say you haven’t read yet.

Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens. This one is a hefty piece of literature, at 826 pages and 2.5″ thick. I bought it two years ago, and had originally planned to read it aloud, (we started last summer, but then stopped only a few chapters in). I really do need to just start reading it again. I don’t particularly enjoy reading Dickens, as it’s so wordy, but I do always enjoy his stories. (And I really want to watch the movie, but I have to read the book first! I don’t know why, I just do.)

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2. What is the strangest thing you’ve ever used as a bookmark?

I often don’t use bookmarks- as I never seem to have one around when I need it, and sometimes I don’t even have a scrap of paper or other item that will serve as one. I never commit the grievous crime of dog-earing pages (never!!!) but I do often commit the less terrible crime of placing books upside down- though I promise it is only temporarily! I don’t leave books like that for days on end- only until I find something to mark my page. Often I simply take a mental note of which page or chapter I’m in. This sometimes has dubious results, because I can’t remember what page I was on, and I end up flipping pages to find my spot.

3. Look at your bookshelf. What’s the first book you see with a yellow spine?

A biography of Jane Austen by David Cecil, called A Portrait of Jane Austen.

4. If you could have one new book from a deceased author, who would it be?

Jane Austen’s unfinished novel Sanditon. I have read the few chapters that she wrote of it, and I really wish that she had been able to finish it, as her works are always so witty and entertaining.

Taking Part in a Book Lover's Tag, the artyologist, top-of-book-stack
5. Name an author who deserves more readership.

Lynn Austin. I just reread her book Hidden Places and I loved it all over again. Her stories have such great depth, and are woven with themes such as secrets and misunderstandings, and haunted pasts, which her characters are confronted with and brought forward into forgiveness and reconciliation.

6. Bookmark or random piece of paper?

As outlined in #2- a piece of random anything. . . . or not 🙂

7. Can you stop anywhere in a book or do you have to finish the chapter?

I can stop anywhere, though I prefer to not stop at all and just read the entire book through. This doesn’t usually work though, because you know, life. . .

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8. One book at a time or several?

I often dedicate myself to reading one novel at a time, as I don’t like interrupting the storyline, but I will have several non-fiction books going on at the same time. For example, right now I am reading The Greco-Roman World but, as it is a bit dry, I am breaking it up with other books. Since it is a history textbook, it doesn’t really matter if I read it through without interruption or not.

9. Do you read ahead or skip pages?

I’ve never understood why people skip ahead, because it wouldn’t make any sense- you would have isolated scenes with no context, wouldn’t you? You wouldn’t know what had built up to that moment, and it would be confusing, I think. So definitely reading as I go along.

10. Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?

I don’t purposely break the spine, but I don’t try to perfectly preserve the book either. My main concern is in reading it!

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11. What books do you regret reading?

There are a couple of books I do regret reading, because I didn’t realize there would be inappropriate content, until suddenly I was right in the middle of those scenes. As it stands now, I read very few secular fiction books, because I don’t want to have to worry about what I might come across. Or I try to find reviews on the books before I read them.

12. On average, how many books do you read per year?

When I was in my teens. I used to read 50-70 books each year and I kept track of each book, but in the last few years I have slowed down a lot. Things get in the way- hobbies, the internet, being a grown up. . .  So I would say that I probably read somewhere around 20-30 books a year now? Probably somewhere around two books each month- although this month I have already read or re-read five books, so maybe I’m picking up the pace again!

13. What book can you read hundreds of times and never get tired of?

The Bible, because you can actually read it hundreds of times and never get tired of it. But, for books written by man, and not the Scriptures, which is what I’m sure this question is actually referring to, well there are just too many to choose from.

I have read Jane Eyre several times now, and there is just so much depth to that story. It is one of my all time favourite books; I admire the character of Jane, and I love the sections where she and Rochester have their discussions. I will definitely read it again.

Really, there are a lot of books that I read every few years, and the greatest thing about having poor reading comprehension (I’ve got to find the silver lining here) is that I can actually read a book several years later, and it’s all new to me. Seriously. I read Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie and I couldn’t remember if I had read it before or not- until I got the end!

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14. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from a book?

I don’t tend to really learn lessons, as in “the moral of the story” from books, so for this I will choose a non-fiction book, which actually taught me something and that would be Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, by Elizabeth Cline. I recommend this book to everyone.

15. What is the most recent book you’ve read?

I just finished re-reading Anna and Her Daughters by D.E Stevenson. I love this book, and have read it a few times now. It is such a lovely old novel from 1958 that we inherited from my Grandma, and it’s not really about Anna and her daughters, so much as it is about one particular daughter Jane, who is narrating the story. . . anyways it’s just a nice story, and it features an attic bedroom wallpapered with a pattern of birds, so really what’s not to love?

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16. What quote from any book will you never forget? Why is it significant?

‘”There was a real railway accident,” said Aslan softly. “Your father and mother and all of the you are- as you used to call it in the Shadowlands- dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning.”

And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.’

These are the final paragraphs of The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis from the Chronicles of Narnia. I read this book when I was a child, and this description of Heaven really just touched me, and I have never forgotten it all these years. (Though, yes, I did have to go look it up, as I am not able to quote it verbatim!)

17. How many books do you own?

Yikes, an estimate would be somewhere probably around 200? If I counted all of my sewing books, novels, fashion books, and my L.M Montgomery and Agatha Christie collections. . . And let’s not start on how many books my entire family owns, or we’ll be here all day. . .

18. In the past year, what is the greatest book you’ve read?

I can’t remember all of the books I’ve read in the past year. I did finally, after fours years on my list, get around to reading The Blue Castle by L.M Montgomery for the first time though. What was I waiting for!? This was a very good book. I always enjoy her books, and the soft and romantic world in which they abide.

So there you go. This was a fun post, and, if you want to take part in this book lover’s tag, consider yourself tagged!

What’s on your reading list right now? Have you read any of these books before? What are your favourite books? (if you can narrow it down!)

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Salvaging a Sewing Project with Vogue 8789

Salvaging a Sewing Project with Vogue 8789, the artyologist

I think a common misconception about sewing your own clothes is that by sewing your own, you can achieve a perfect fit each time and you will end up with a closet full of clothes you love.

In theory that is true, but I think every seamstress has, at some point in their sewing life, sewn something that has turned out terribly wrong. A complete failure. A dud. The fit is off, it’s too small, it’s too big, it has wrinkles where there shouldn’t be any, the armholes gape, you loved the look of the pattern, but once you put on the finished garment, you realize that you don’t look quite like the model. . .  I could go on.

Making your own clothing is incredibly satisfying, when you end up with a garment you love, but incredibly frustrating when it turns out badly. While making a muslin, or tried and true patterns are helpful, sometimes despite all of your careful preparation, you end up with something that doesn’t turn out like you thought it would. This recently finished dress (Vogue 8789) that I’m sharing today, is one such example of dress that went wrong, but I was able to salvage and make something new out of.

Salvaging a Sewing Project with Vogue 8789, the artyologist, hat-and-blossoms

I sewed a dress out of this fabric four years ago, based off of a pattern I had made for another dress I have. I loved the other dress, and really liked the fit and style. It had a fitted waist, like Vogue 2962, but with a regular sleeved top, not a halter. It was, I thought, a tried and true pattern, so I decided to make another out of this striped cotton. However, when I finished the dress, the bodice ended up too wide, and the neckline gaped. It looked OK, when I stood still, but, as I don’t usually stand in one position all day, it was rather ill fitting and uncomfortable. I wore the dress two times, and then promptly removed it from my closet and threw it into the box of shame (aka- box of unfinished sewing projects) where it sat for four years. 🙁

Salvaging a Sewing Project with Vogue 8789, the artyologist, portrait-1

This past October, when I took part in Slow Fashion October, I made a decision/ pledge to use up my stash and finish up my UFO sewing projects, before I started embarking on too many new projects and buying new fabric without any plan of what I was going to make with it. And, when I saw “The Vintage Fashion Challenge” prompt on Instagram for today was “Me Made Style”, I knew that it was finally time to tackle this dress. And, as I wanted to highlight the stripe design, I decided that it was a perfect time to try out Vogue 8789.

So how did I like this pattern? I did end up sizing down and that worked, although I think that if I ever make it again, I will actually size down once more, and do a full bust adjustment instead for a better fit. The muslin for this pattern worked out really nicely, but (again) when I sewed up the bodice there were many fit frustrations. I couldn’t get the darts to lie nicely, and they kept having bubbles on the ends of them that (to put it rather bluntly) were quite, um, nipply. I did so much research about darts, consulting sewing blogs and books and reading about how you need to keep them 1-2″ away from the bust apex, etc. but nothing was working. Finally, I read in one of Gertie’s old posts about using two small darts, rather than one large one, as a large dart will always end up being pointed. One of my sewing books recommends never doing a dart larger than 3/4″. So, I took out the dart, marked the apex and then drew two new 1/2″ darts, and the problem was instantly solved! If you have ever faced difficulty with pointy darts, I would definitely recommend using two small darts!

Salvaging a Sewing Project with Vogue 8789, the artyologist, v-detail

As for the rest of the dress, it went together quite well and I finished it up (even matching my centre back zipper perfectly). And they all lived happily ever after, right? Wrong! I tried the dress on, and it was too big! At this point, I despaired of ever having a striped dress, but I resolutely picked it out, and then refit the bodice, with my mom’s help. And then I sewed up the rest of it, and it was a success this time.

Salvaging a Sewing Project with Vogue 8789, the artyologist, back

When I look at this dress, I see all of the problems with it. There are wrinkles on the back that shouldn’t be there. The skirt seam ended up being on the front. The waist seam over the zipper doesn’t match up exactly. But, overall, those are just nit picky complaints, and ultimately I have ended up with a dress that I love. I have worn it once already and I know that it is going to end up being a new favourite. I am also glad that I was able to save this dress, and make something “new” from it. So, the moral of the story is, when you turn out a new garment and it ends up being a failure, instead of despairing, see if you can turn it into something new. Although, maybe don’t wait for four years to do so 😉

Have you ever made a garment that was a complete failure? What did you do? Were you able to save it, and turn it into something new? Have you ever tried Vogue 8789?

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Salvaging a Sewing Project with Vogue 8789, the artyologist, back with branches

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Salvaging a Sewing Project with Vogue 8789, the artyologist, hat

What’s In My Bag?

What's In My Bag, the artyologist

For the majority of history, women have not carried purses or handbags wherever they have gone. In fact it’s only been the last hundred years or so, that women have done so and yet, for many of us, we can’t imagine leaving the house without our purse. I’m always curious as to what different people consider to be the “essentials”. I personally don’t like carrying too much around with me, as it is too heavy and cumbersome, but if I don’t bring some things with me, I always end up needing them. (Like bandages. Always bandages. . .)

This little purse I bought last year in England is small, yet mighty. It doesn’t look like it would be able to hold much, but it is actually like Mary Poppins’ bag. 😉 So here is what’s in my bag.

what's in my bag, toiletries, the artyologist

  1. I find it hard to apply lipstick without a mirror as I always end up getting it crooked, so I like to carry around a neutral/tawny shade. I like it as it is light enough in colour to apply easily without being too obvious if I get it crooked, but it dresses up my look just a bit. 🙂
  2. In a dry climate (hello, Alberta!) lotion is an absolute must! I always just grab some random lotion samples from hotels whenever I stay at one.
  3. I got this cute little pill box at a vintage sale, and it is a pretty way to hold some painkillers.
  4. Nail clippers, because NOTHING is worse than getting a snagged nail when you don’t have clippers with you.
  5. I like to keep all these loose little items in a bag (and even better if it is a sparkly beaded fair trade bag), so they don’t get lost in the depths of my purse. Also, I switch purses with each outfit, and it is so much easier to just grab the bag and toss it into my new purse, rather than trying to rummage around and find each individual item.whats in my bag, mirror and lipbalm, the artyologist
  6. I got this lipstick case many years ago from my aunt and I love it. I don’t carry lipstick in it, but rather my lip balm, since I started wearing it long before I wore lipstick. 😉 Also, it makes finding my lip balm easier. Because again, Alberta is dry. And lip balm is a necessary part of life.
  7. A little compact mirror. Because apparently I need to see what I look like at all times. 😉whats in my bag, mending kit and notepad, the artyologist
  8. A little notebook made out of a greeting card with my initial on it, and a pen. Because even though my phone is great, sometimes you just need to write things down.
  9. A cute little vintage mending kit. Yes, I have definitely used this before to save the day! And the scissors are invaluable.whats in my bag, the artyologist
  10. Not pictured, because I found it afterwards, is a bandage. Because I am prone to getting inexplicable cuts and wounds, and always seem to need one. . .
  11. Also not pictured, because it is ugly and broken, is my phone.

What essentials do you carry with you in your bag? Do you switch purses with each outfit, or do you have one purse that you always use? And have you ever been out and about and wished you had remembered to bring something with you?

Setting Creative Goals for March and Onwards

Setting Creative Goals for March and Onwards

Where did the month of February go? I know that it is a shorter month than the rest, but I was still so surprised at just how fast it went by! And here we are, already on the 3rd day of March. There is something about turning the calendar page to March, that turns my mind towards Spring. I know that technically we are still in Winter, and the current view out my window is one full of snow, with nary a tree bud to be seen, but I can’t help but start hoping for Spring. And with thoughts of Spring, and a fresh new month before us, also comes thoughts of “goals”; and specifically my creative goals.

I set myself a rather hefty list of goals to accomplish this year. I might have gone a bit overboard with the number I set, but last year I didn’t set any overarching goals, and at the end of the year I realized that I didn’t accomplish much. So, this year I set a lot. Seriously- the ones listed below are only my “creative goals”. Many of these creative goals are things that I enjoy or have been “meaning to get around to”, but haven’t dedicated the time and effort into. The act of writing them down is really forcing me to work on them- and, sharing them here is going to help me be a whole lot more accountable too 🙂 Since we’re now in the third month of the year, here is what I have done so far, and what needs to yet be done, both this month and the rest of year as well.

Improve my Photography Skills

There is so much about photography that I don’t know. I have decided that this is the year that I finally invest some time (and money if needed) into improving my skill set. You can’t grow if you don’t learn, right? I have been putting it off, but I have finally carved out the time to do some online lessons and DVD courses in order to get better at photography. I absolutely love taking photos- it is one of my favourite creative mediums, so instead of being intimidated by all the things I don’t know- I am instead going to start absorbing some of that knowledge bit by bit. My goal is to finish one course this month, and making this a priority each week is a good start!

Improve my Photoshop Skills

I have a very rudimentary knowledge of Photoshop and Illustrator. I use these two programs for my job all the time- but I was not trained very well in the programs, and I know just enough to limp my way through. My boss has agreed to let me dedicate a couple of hours each week to tutorials and training, and I have learned so much in just the few lessons I’ve taken. I found the Youtube channel Phlearn, and if you are wanting to learn Photoshop- this is the place to go. Not only am I learning things that will help me with my job, but also with my own personal photos and this blog too. Talk about killing two birds with one stone. (Well – not literally.)

Create a More Cohesive Instagram

Although my family and friends, who are not part of social media, laugh at this goal of mine- I know that my fellow Instagrammers will understand. 🙂 I get frustrated when I look at my feed and it’s all over the place. I am now, as of this week, focusing more on creating cohesive images for my Instagram account. The first step I have taken to implementing this plan is downloading VSCO; and already I am liking how my pictures are turning out. It is so nice to be able to edit outside of Instagram, and have complete control over the look of the picture before it is published.

Create More Artwork, and Practice, Practice, Practice!

I had really gotten out of the habit of putting my artwork as a priority. Don’t we always neglect the enjoyable things we love, that are not as “important” as the other things on our to-do lists? I have now set a goal for myself to create one painting each week. I am also going to sketch each day, and take one artistic photograph each day. I will probably fail at this goal, but at least by setting it, I will create more than I have been, and I will be intentional about it!

painting, setting creative goals for march and onwards

Exhibit at Art and Craft Shows

Going to those two Christmas sales has really given me the “sale” bug. I took part in one art show last weekend, and it was great! I didn’t sell as much as I was hoping for, but I did sell four photo prints, which was very nice. Also, because of the sale, I found out about a local library that has an area for artists to hang their work. I now have my pieces hanging up for the month of March and April- so who knows where that might lead? And, I have just found out about another art show in April and I am now planning for that one too. And of course, planning again for the next Christmas shows. It was a huge step for me to do that first show, and now I am so excited for all of these new ones coming up!

Create an Online Shop

You may have noticed that I have a “shop” tab in my blog header, but if you click on it, it only takes you to a page that says “coming soon”. 🙁 I was hoping to have set up a shop online by now, but I have run into some complications with that, and it hasn’t happened yet. My hope is to be able to start selling online this year, but it might be a while before that happens. This is one of those creative goals that I have not made much progress on so far, but I’ll keep chipping away at it. . .

Sew More

Considering that I love to wear clothes, you would think that I would be chomping at the bit to get more things sewn and into my wardrobe. However- I am a slow seamstress and I always seem to run into problems with my sewing which then takes up more time. . . Long story short- it takes a lot of time. But, I do have a lot of projects in the works, and I would like to finish them up. I think a goal of sewing a few hours a week is not too bad of a target. Maybe even one garment a month? Do you think I can do it? I guess we’ll find out. . .

Unplug More Often

I currently unplug on Sundays; as it is my Sabbath and day of rest. It is so nice to have one day a week where I don’t turn on my computer or browse through Instagram, and I think that doing this more often wouldn’t hurt either. I actually don’t need to post a new photo every day on Instagram. If I miss a blog post here and there, the world won’t fall apart. (I hope- haha!) I don’t need to see what every person I follow is doing every minute of the day. There actually is such a thing as too much inspiration. I want to do these things only because I want to, not because I feel the pressure to keep up. Last weekend I took a break over the weekend, since I was busy at the art show. I realized that I needed to be living in the moment; not wondering how many comments I needed to respond to! I am going to make a conscious effort to unplug this year, when necessary.

Well, those are my creative goals. Congratulations on making it to this point, because whew! I thought this was going to be a short post and it is a looooooong one.

So, do you set yearly goals for yourself? If so, what are your creative goals, or non creative goals for this year? How are you doing with them so far? And, are you excited about the coming Spring season?!

pincushion, setting creative goals for march and onwards, the artyologist