Friday, August 31, 2012

Reading List: September 2012

"Books are the perfect entertainment: no commercials, no batteries, and hours of enjoyment for each dollar spent. What I wonder is why everybody doesn't carry a book around for those inevitable dead spots in life." -Stephen King

Greetings, everybody! I can't believe that it's already September. Let's jump right in with another of our monthly reading lists! I felt really drawn to the classics when planning this....great to get you back into the studying habit, no?

Animal Farm by George Orwell: This was one of my favorite Lit reads from last year. Originally published in August of 1945, George Orwell had trouble initially finding a publisher. Animal Farm tells the story a group of farm animals who decide that they no longer want to be kept under human control. So, they organize a rebellion and attempt to govern themselves. The book goes on to to explore themes such as the dangers of a naive working class, and draw many parallels to the soviet and communist issues of the time. The book is definitely a fantastic read that really makes you think! If you'd like to try it, here's a free online copy that looks pretty good.

Remembered Death by Agatha Christie: Originally published under the name Sparkling Cyanide in 1947, this is my favorite Agatha Christie book yet! Obviously, Agatha Christie is a fantastic writer who always provides an exciting mystery....but this one was just brilliant! I seriously couldn't put it down. This is the perfect book when you need a break from the required-reading overload. Rosemary Barton, a British beauty, lives a seemingly happy life, but at her birthday party, she is discovered dead. At first the police say suicide, 'depression after influenza', but.....well, let's just say that apparently someone knows better. Now, a year later, a strangely similar event is about to take place. On a different note, another interesting feature of the book is the way that it's written. Each chapter or so, Agatha Christie goes over the events from the perspective of each suspect. Each knows something they they do not disclose, which really adds to the suspense. Definitely an exciting read! For more on Agatha Christie and all her works, visit her official site here.

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis: The Screwtape Letters was yet another wonderful Lit read from last year. It was the first book I'd read from C.S. Lewis other than the Chronicles of Narnia, and I absolutely loved it! It is yet another book that really makes you think. The book is a collection of letters from a devil, Screwtape, to his nephew. Each explores different ways that Screwtape's nephew can push his 'patient', or human, towards sin and the devil. All of the temptations that he discusses are real and prevalent......it makes you wonder about the devil on our own shoulders. This book is certainly something out of the ordinary to brighten up your reading!
The Secret School by Avi: Sorry for the obvious connection, but I couldn't resist adding this to the list for back to school! Published by Sandpiper in 2003, The Secret School is a story about 14 year old Ida Bidson, a girl growing up in Elk Valley, Colorado, in 1925. Ida's dream is to attend the local high school, but to do so she must pass the Exit Exams at the end of the year. Family trouble forces her own teacher to leave, however, and since it is only a little while until summer, The Board decides to wait and not hire another teacher until next year. Ida and her friend, Tom, knows that there's only one thing to do so they, and all the other kids, can move into the next grade...but nobody else can know. 
Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw: This is the first play we've ever featured in our Reading List series! Pygmalion tells the story of Eliza Doolitle, a poor Cockney girl, and her training under phonetics professor Henry Higgins, as a result of a bet. I've always liked the story; I read it abridged when I was really little, and later read the actual version. In fact, I think that it was the first play I ever read. Anyhow, the play is wittily written with many memorable characters, but is perhaps best remembered for the musical and film version, My Fair Lady.  Nothing like reading the real thing, though! It certainly is a classic when it comes to British titles!
Well, this brings our September Reading List to a close! Hope you all enjoyed my suggestions. If you read any of them, or have any titles you'd recommend, please leave them in the comments! Can't wait to hear from you. :)

Thanks for reading! :)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Quick Update....

Hello everyone! Just wanted to pop you all a note......



We officially started school yesterday! :) I'm certainly ready to get back into the regular routine, but that means that 'busy' will soon be returning! Aside from all the schoolwork in this sophomore year, I'm also going to be trying to skate more, continue to be active in 4H, diligently practice piano, and still have time for hanging out with my wonderful friends from our Sisterhood, and doing knitting and sewing projects. Because of this, I'm afraid that blogging may get a bit infrequent. I'm still going to try and be really good about publishing the monthly reading lists, and I'll try to get something additional out as I have time.

Thanks everyone for understanding! I really enjoy writing this blog, but, sigh, I'm afraid it has to be the first thing to go when 'real life' gets a bit hectic. Please check in from time to time to see the latest stuff.

Have a wonderful summer-to-fall transition, everybody!

Thanks for reading! :)

Gillian

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Sheep!!!

I just had to share some adorable pictures of the newest members of our homestead....three Shetland sheep! They were born in May of this year, so are still technically lambs, and are just the cutest things!



I actually got them a couple weeks ago, but have been very bad about getting photos and doing a post about them! So, let me introduce you: Annie Rose (on the left) is a Moorit coloring, but after a few shearings she should lighten up into more of a Fawn. She has a sweet temperament but is very shy. Lizzy Jane (the one in the middle) is the perfect dainty lady....she is an Emsket coloring with blue eyes and curliest lashes! She is also very shy, but will come up to you with no problems if you offer her a carrot! Rachel Lynde (the one on the right) definitely lives up to her name, and is very loud. She gets very upset if you show up a bit late to grain her! She is a Dark Brown, is very confident and loves to be petted.

I bought them as a 4H project, and plan on showing at a local fair in September. After fair season I'll shear them, and then proceed to learning how to clean, spin, and maybe even dye some of their wool! I've been getting my knitting needles out again to practice, so I can't wait to start working on projects from my own sheep! :)

Lately our main goal has been to learn to lead. They're getting pretty good about putting the halters on and off, but actually being lead is another thing. Right now, it's not so much walking as a lot of big jumps straight into the air. We've also been working on 'setting up' for the judges, and standing still and square. Lizzy Jane sets up very nice, and could stand pretty and still all day, so I would love to use her as a showmanship lamb, but right now she is the worst at walking. I'll get it figured out, though.






Got any fun 4H projects going on? What have your preparations been for fair season? Fall weather farm chores? Tell me int the comments or shoot me an email! :)

Thanks for reading! :)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Charming Quarters: My Current Bedroom

Norman Rockwell's 'Decorator'
Hello everybody! Lately, what with all the preparations to get back to school, I've been tingling to start freshening up my room and giving it a real face lift. I'm intending to write a collection of posts about my room, how I'm planning to decorate it, and the DIY crafts and challenges along the way. Check back for future posts!

My room is one the third floor, it what is, technically, our attic. I've taken to calling it my 'garret room', what with it's pretty paper and slanted ceilings. It's fairly small, with one window, and white carpeting. There is also a gorgeous set of drawers built into the wall (an epic floor-space saver!) and the most adorable double door. I love my room...I really do. But, as with everything, a little change and freshening up is OK. Following is a quick list of some of the things I'd like to get/make, and some photos.


1. Fresh paper/paint.
2. A cover for my armchair.
3. An ottoman, or at least a little stool, for my armchair.
4. Clean out the corner that currently holds my doll house, and perhaps get an antique blanket chest or something to go there.
5. New curtains! There is also a window decoration I'd like to try....
6. New sheets and pillows!
7. A rug, perhaps? I'd love to try and rug-punch my own.
My bed, featuring a lovely purple quilt my mum made me.
8. Update my desk. I have no idea what I want to do, but I need to do something! It's turning into a catch all.
9. More photos and other decorations on my walls, in nice frames, preferably.

My window.....lacy curtains.
My arm chair.....yes, yes, ugly 1970's print, but it was only $2 at a yard sale and soooo comfortable!!!!!!!

My drawers. And a model horse collection above them.

My doll house....with more clutter behind it. 

My desk.....and curio cabinet.....and bookshelf. 

A close up of the amazing knitted afghan that my Meme, or great-grandmother on my dad's side, made my dad. :)

The amazing double door!!!! :)
Thanks for reading! :) Any thrifty DIY decorating ideas you'd like to share? What are some of your decorating plans for the fall?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Why Blouses are Awesome

I've always liked a good blouse, but it's only been this summer that I've really started utilizing and loving them. I own 14 blouses, in sleeveless, short sleeves, 3/4's, and long styles. I have a bunch of colors and even a few prints. I wear almost all of them through the summer, or under a sweater in winter. Below, you will find a list of reasons why I love, love, love, love, love blouses.

Blouses are more comfortable than T-shirts. At least I think so. I've always had trouble finding a good T. They're all either too baggy (I insist on everything being impeccably fitted) or too tight (I'm a farmgirl....I need freedom of motion!) The ease of motion in a blouse cannot be beat by ANY off the rack T. Plus, they're  they're light and cool during summer, and great under (or over) an extra layer in the winter. Win win!

Blouses look better. Again, that's my opinion. But a couple of years ago, I was taking riding lessons at a local barn with my friend. We were walking back from one of the field, and my friend said, "You look like the rich girl who owns the stable, I look like I just rolled out of bed!" We were both equally dirty, grimy, and sweaty. We had the same helmet hair, knotted ponytails, and red faces. So, what was the difference? I had pulled on a blouse with a belt, while she had worn a favorite, loose-fitting T. Blouses instantly add something unique, classier, and dressier to an outfit, even if they're still paired with sneakers and shorts. And it's takes the exact same amount of time to slip into a blouse than to pull on a regular shirt!

Blouses are more versatile. The blouse really hasn't changed that much throughout history. So, they can take on virtually any style, be it vintage, classic, edgy, or indie. Plus they can be worn with anything: tucked into pencil skirts, un-tucked with shorts, slipped under jumper dresses or worn with an unbuttoned sweater cardigan. And, they act as great transition pieces between seasons.

They'll look nicer longer. I don't know if it's true for everybody, but it's that way with me. While a plethora of rainbow colored T's will last me one summer, I've been wearing the same blouses, with only a few new additions, for years! And, some of my newer-to-me blouses have been thrifted, but you'd never be able to tell the difference. I have no idea why, but they seem to clean up better, withstand a little ware and tare, not stretch, and always look fresher compared to my summer T's.

So, those were some of my thoughts! Following are some of my favorite blouses, and fun ideas on how to wear them! Enjoy!

Wear a blouse underneath a jumper dress.

I absolutely love the blue blouse in the top left corner! Those pleated sleeves are too cute! 

This may be an add for shoes, but I just love her outfit! Such a practical way to wear vintage.

Wear a blouse with a loud color or print underneath a neutral sweater.

One of my favorite summer outfits to stay cool in-a white sleeveless blouse with a ruffled color, denim cutoffs, comfy flats, and a dressy straw hat.

One of my church outfits-white pencil skirt, black blouse with front ruffle, straw hat.

I wore this outfit biking the other day...it was perfect other than the fact that my hat kept wanting to blow away! :) The blouse looks a little rumpled after I'd been wearing it all day, but it was crisp and fresh and oh so flattering in the morning!

I know, I know....another shorts and blouse combo. But I just had to show you this one! I bought it at a thrift store for just $1. It is so comfortable and just the cutest thing!

A closeup of the details of the blouse.....buttons up the cuff and a slight puff sleeve.

I'm thinking of this as a very 'smart' summer-fall outfit. A gray pencil skirt, white sleeveless blouse, navy blue sweater, and blue-gingham print wedges.

I just had to show you this blouse! It's my absolute favorite white shirt. I use it summer through winter, wear it under sweaters, with pencil skirts, or with a black skirt and belt for a 4H uniform. Sorry for no 'modeling' pictures with it....My hair was a mess and I was still in my skating tank top and leggings, so I didn't feel like a photoshoot.....

Just a closeup of the pintucking detail on the front of the shirt.



Do you prefer blouses or T-shirts? What are your favorite tops? Fun ideas on how to wear blouses? Leave a comment! And, as always, thanks for reading! :)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Inspiration......Be Whimsical

"There are many Green Dragons in this world of

wayside inns, even as there are White Harts, Red Lions, Silent

Women, and other incredible things...." -William Henry Hudson


'Ello Everybody! Today I have an inspiration post on everything whimsy. So, here is a collection of photos to inspire you to magical, fantastic, whimsical realms of creativity. Thanks for reading! :)
Book Butterfly

Acorn Lanterns


Delightful Titles
Fluffy Skirt
Button-Fruit Linen Napkins


Mary Poppins! Tea party on the ceiling.
Fly Away
Framed Handwritten Letters



Crotcheted Granny Squares-wouldn't they make the cutest coasters?

Just like Beauty and the Beast!


Paper Trail

Ruffled Bathing Curtain

So romantic.....sensibility.com 1914 Afternoon Dress

Stepping Stone Garden Tuffets


Whimsy Teacup

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Sweet Summertime: Iced Tea

My No. 1 go-to thirst quencher during the summer months is definitely iced tea. But not just any iced tea; my grandmother's unsweetened homemade iced tea, made just like my great-grandmother used to make it.  As you can probably already tell, it's a family favorite. And since my grandmother lives with us, I always stop in at her kitchen for a glass after working outside.

My grandmother is from the midwest, but moved here in the 1970's, since my grandfather was in the Air Force. My dad's family has always been here, moving from Quebec to Vermont and then New Hampshire. So, New England roots run pretty deep in this family. That's probably why we like this tea. It has absolutely no sweetener! I was talking with one of my friends, whose from the south, and he can't believe that I drink it. "Get some sweet tea, REAL sweet tea.'" he says. But, well, that's simply not the New England way! Plus I've never much cared for McDonalds sweet tea, so I can't say I'd care for the real thing. Nope, I'm more of the homemade practicality type when it comes to food. 

Anyway, without further ado, here's the recipe for my grandmother's fantastic tea! It's absolutely the perfect thing to keep in the fridge during heat blasts.

Grandma Joyce's Unsweetened Iced Tea:
Ingredients and Supplies:
4 Tea Bags.
Water.
Pitcher.
Sauce Pan or Kettle.
Ice.

Steps:

1. Begin by filling your pitcher with water. Once you have filled it to the desired amount, pour water into the sauce pan.
2. Next, add your tea bags to the water and boil until the tea has brewed.

3. Fill pitcher with some ice cubes. Pour hot tea over ice, allow to cool in fridge for awhile. Keep chilled and and enjoy a refreshing sip all day! 

Isn't that easy? When my grandma told me how to make it, I had to ask her why she put the ice cubes in first. "Oh, I don't know," she said, "My mother just always told me that pouring it over the ice makes it taste better." So, that's why we do it in that order. I don't know if it's true, but I trust my great-grandmother knew what she was talking about.

Enjoy the rest of your summer and stay cool!



Thanks for reading! :)