December 1, 2017

Happy December!

Just popping in to wish you all a happy December! I've changed the blogger look, and have a few Advent/Christmas blog posts in mind for this month (though nothing like last year's Advent Calendar!)

I had so much fun making this! I cut the lettering out of homemade gingerbread cookie dough, baked and then decorated. My house smelled like cinnamon and ginger for days.  I can't believe December ...

It's the first year I've decorated a dorm room instead of a bedroom (I'll probably do that too, when I go home for break). It's kind of a shame that when one most wants to do fun Christmas activities is the same time that one must prepare for final exams :-/
That being said, I'm also super excited to be heading home for a while! It's been months since I've seen my family, friends, house, and hometown (much less home state!) I'll definitely keep you posted as best I can with Christmas happenings :)

What are you most looking forward to this Christmastide?

November 9, 2017

Grace of Monaco: Review

When one is balancing 16 credits and a part-time job as a freshman, the most natural thing to do is watch Netflix.
Right?
Well, right or not, that's what I do, and I have jolly good fun doing it, too. A few weeks ago when I was in a period drama mood (then again, when am I not in a period drama mood?), a friend and I sat down to watch Grace of Monaco.

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Now I don't know about you, but I had only heard of the film once before, and had almost entirely forgotten it existed, so I'm guessing it didn't make itself very known in the public sphere. It was made in 2014, so it's still fairly new. If you're interested in Grace Kelly or Monaco, this is a worthwhile movie. If not...you should probably watch something else.

A brief synopsis of the film: Grace Kelly is conflicted about her marriage to Prince Rainier and the consequent struggles that come with being a foreign princess in a very traditional, nationalistic country. She's never really let go of her acting career; in fact she almost flies back to the United States to play a star role in an upcoming movie.

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Alfred Hitchcock trying to convince Grace to come back to the States

Except she can't, because Monaco's in crisis: France is trying to bully the tiny country to pay taxes, and basically become a part of France. Monaco wants to keep its independent identity, but doesn't have a whole lot of bargaining power, since all of its water, electricity, etc. come either from or through France.

For the first half of the movie, I thoroughly enjoyed the set and costumes, but was kind of impatient with the slow pace and the frequent close-up shots of Grace Kelly's face. Not just because it was kind of awkward, but also because she always looks so sad and tired. It's kind of depressing, honestly. Grace isn't happy, Rainier isn't happy, Monaco is in trouble.

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When it seems like all hope is lost, Grace sweeps in with an idea and hosts a ball for the Red Cross, inviting leaders from countries around the world, including the president of France. She puts Monaco in the spotlight of international attention, something her husband has been reluctant to do in the face of potential war. Grace gives a touching speech at the dinner of the ball (complete with more face close-ups) and, according to the movie, causes France to back off in embarrassment of what other countries will think. She is loved by everyone, it seems, and no one could imagine harming her country. Grace finally finds acceptance and love from both her people and the worldwide press.

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The ball at the end is lovely, and there's also a good deal of suspense and plot twisting (think espionage/double agents!) that I never saw coming in the second half of the movie. Was it historically accurate? Not entirely, but it's factually based, and that's good enough for me. Not ideal, but good enough. It definitely left me wanting to find out more about Grace Kelly and Monaco.

I really liked the realistic quality of this movie. It didn't compress time very much, and had only a few flashbacks, which made it move rather slowly. The film quality was intentionally grainy (or at least naturally lit) I think, and sent me right back to the 1960s. Honestly, the dresses, suits, interior design, and the overall aesthetic made me deeply nostalgic for a time I've never lived in. That's a sign of a good period drama, even if it doesn't have a brilliant, stirring plot.
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Have you seen Grace of Monaco? What do you think of it?


November 8, 2017

College=Papers

College, as you may have guessed from several of my last posts, has been a huge chunk of my life lately. And more recently, my attention (when I can actually focus it) has been on writing papers. Sadly this sucks away any bits of creativity usually reserved for blog posts. Although it's been hard to write consistently on this blog lately (ok let's face it, for over a year), I've been writing about some pretty interesting topics for my classes. So without sharing the actual papers with you, I thought I'd tell you a little about what I've been studying.

Going on a Historic Preservation Scavenger Hunt


My professor gave the class a list of architectural terms and told us to go downtown/off campus and find them, taking pictures along the way. This was really fun; I am appreciating old houses and architecture like never before! Understanding architectural vocabulary is like learning a new language, with every building having its own statement. I could have used this picture to cover the terms "clapboard siding" (aka wood), "Palladian window" (the 3-part window on top), or "front-facing gable" (the way the triangle part is facing the street). Neat, huh?

Analyzing a Specific Historic Structure
This one was a little less fun and a lot more technical. I was assigned a specific house to describe from foundation to roof-cladding, on one side of the house only. This follows a certain basic structure and uses all the terminology I learned in the scavenger hunt. Then I had to identify the style the house was built in. It is a bit of a challenge, which I like, but I wish I got something a little more exciting than the plain-Jane house I received. :/

Researching and Comparing a Piece of Art (x 3!)

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Mausoleum of Galla Placidia

For one of my art history classes, we are to choose a piece of art and analyze it in three separate papers; the first is to simply report on the piece itself, and the following two are to compare it to other works of art in relation to a theme in art history. I chose The Mausoleum of Galla Placidia in Ravenna, Italy as my focus piece (quite the mouthful, I know! It got the word count up, at least! ;)). Basically, it's a chapel from 425 AD that was built by early Roman Christians. It's in the shape of a cross, and the mosaics inside are really dazzling. I want to see it so much now...anyone have plane tickets to Ravenna? ;)
In my next paper, I compared the mausoleum to The Church of San Clemente in Rome on the grounds of religion. Obviously both are Christian structures, but I focused on comparing both structures' uses of previous cultures as an inspiration for their decoration, but also how they are united by using the same symbolism from the Bible.
My most recent piece compared the mausoleum to The Tomb of Nefertari in the Valley of the Queens, Egypt. This was based on the differences in burial practices, in which my main point was that while the mausoleum's mosaics were meant as a comfort and a lesson in salvation for the living, the paintings in the Egyptian tomb were for the deceased queen to use in order to get to the afterlife.

A Painting Analysis

The Dancing Couple
The Dancing Couple by Jan Steen

This was from my other art history class. My professor told us to go to an art museum either in the state capitol or in the DC area, find a painting, and write a four-page paper on it. Rather vague instructions, but I ran with it and found a fun Dutch genre painting in the National Gallery in DC.
This is such a fun piece, with a ton of symbolism and interesting details, and even a moral lesson! Long story short, make sure you and your sweetheart are well-matched for a relationship. Exhibit A of what not to do: the man and woman dancing (if you can consider the woman to be dancing at all...she's a bit, shall we say, trepidatious of the idea!). Exhibits B, C, D, etc. of what a well-matched couple looks like? Pretty much everyone else in the painting.

A Big, Scary Research Project

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This is from a history class that's formatted for incoming freshmen to be almost like a college-version of homeroom, where you can learn the ropes of a college class while still learning about a more unconventional topic. My class is on the history of American Tourism, which is really a fascinating topic! I have to write a 6-8 page paper for this class on the history of any American tourist site. Not the history on which the site is based, but on the history of the site's being a site. Does that make any sense? Here's my example: I'm researching the history of Plimoth Plantation as a tourist destination, which started in the late 19th century, and really picked up in the 1940s when it became a more established corporation.
The deadline for this one is coming up quick, and while I've been scrambling to get the aforementioned papers done, I've sorely neglected this one. Shame on me, I know. But I'm going work like mad tomorrow, and hopefully get everything done well and on time.

What I've Learned
  • 700 words is not that long for a paper
  • High School was even worse than I thought, learning-wise
  • The world is an even bigger place with more information than I ever imagined
  • Even four pages is still a doable length for a paper
  • The Mausoleum of Galla Placidia is really cool. The more time I spend with it, the cooler it gets.
  • "The Dancing Couple" is also really cool. And Jan Steen. And Dutch painting in general.
  • MLA format doesn't always cut it anymore. I've had to learn Chicago style now too.
  • Six to eight pages is still a long and scary paper length, especially when one puts it off...
What was your favorite of my assignments?
Do you have any big projects coming up, writing or otherwise?
What was your favorite school-related paper or project you've done?








October 19, 2017

How to Spell Me in Four Letters

I have a problem with personality tests.
Don't get me wrong, I love personality quizzes and surveys in general. But try to get me through an actual, scientific(ish) personality test, and I fail miserably every time. Why? Because the questions are so open-ended; my answers depend entirely on the situation! Lots of the questions apply to my behavior around other people, in which case it depends if it's my family or friends, peers or older adults.

Just lovin life.

I also don't think I'm an incredible judge of my own character; I'm often so focused on how I want to improve that I'm not very good at evaluating who I am currently. I care very much about how I present myself to others, and I want to know what other people think about me. So when I last took this test with some friends, I did what one is not supposed to do and discussed at least half the questions with them before answering.
I've taken the official(ish) personality tests at least 5 times in my life, and I think I've gotten a different answer each time. But after my most recent test, in which I used both scientific surveys and pop-culture personality guides, I think I have discovered my personality once and for all: I am an...
                                                                                   ENFP!
This means I'm
           ~ Extroverted: more likely to be energized from socialization than drained from it. ENFPs are the least extroverted of the extroverts.
This is definitely me; I love people and parties but they have to be the right people and parties, and eventually crowded places become rather unpleasant and tiring.

slumber party 1955

         ~ Intuitive: thinks abstractly, focuses on future possibilities rather than the present, idealistic. The opposite trait of sensing processes information based off of one's senses and facts.
I feel a little bad about being intuitive, as I value practicality more than having my head in the clouds. But I figure the world needs both kinds of people, so I'll try to embrace it.

"Trick" photography on the beach, c. 1940s.

       ~ Feeling: considers social and personal implications before logic when making decisions. Tries for tact and harmony in relationships and conversations.
At first glance I don't like being considered a feeler over a thinker, just like how I'd rather be sensing than intuitive. But when I looked at more descriptions of the feeling trait, I realized that it's not so bad after all, and it definitely suits me! Of course I still use logic in decision making, but I definitely think about how my decisions will affect how other people will think and feel.

1940's
      ~Perceptive: likes to keep options open and not make judgements or decisions right away in case things change. Finds rigid structure inhibiting.
Yup, that's me! I think this is part of the reason I don't always like doing things in groups; it usually forces you to make concrete plans of what to do when, whereas I'd rather just start my day with a few general ideas of what I should do, and structure it around whatever happens to come up.

So that's me in four letters. After I took the more scientific tests, I snooped around Pinterest. It was pins like these that made me sure that the test was accurate. ;)

I've pinned this before, but #1 is the single most accurate thing ever.
Hidden Sides of MBTI types (find your type on 16personalities.com)

And since I was dying to find out, I did a (highly academic) search of which of Jane Austen's characters I am most like Marianne Dashwood. The hopeless romantic. Well...yeah. ;) 

Do you have trouble with personality tests?
What is your personality type? Are we "compatible"?





September 29, 2017

5 Things I Miss About Home

Nobody told me this until it was already happening to me, but apparently there is a strange phenomenon that occurs with many college students on the subject of homesickness: for many of them, it doesn't start right away. No, you don't feel homesick at all the first week or two. You call your parents when you can, and think about home from time to time, but between all the new activities and friends you honestly don't have time to dwell on it. But it builds, little by little, so that by mid-October, one is experiencing a full-blown homesickness when one least expects it.

Now don't worry, I'm still not that homesick, and I doubt that I will be. It's just that I can tell that I'm gradually missing home a bit more than I used to, and getting all wishy-washy nostalgic about everything. Here are my top five examples:

1. Baking


Somehow, even a gelato bar, dessert case, and soft serve ice cream machine still doesn't beat being able to whip up your own baked goods in your own kitchen from time to time. I can't even scroll past my baking board on Pinterest without my mouth watering. It's only partly about the taste, though. It's also about the process; choosing a recipe, measuring and mixing ingredients, and pulling the finished product from the oven.

2. Watching Football Games

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There's not much I'd rather do on a Sunday afternoon than sit in front of the TV in my living room with pizza, football, and a blanket. Oh, and family. ;) Especially now that the football season in in full swing, I miss this weekly tradition from home.

3. My Job

I took this last summer in the dining room of my workplace.

I had an amazing job in historical job in interpretation at home. I knew it then, and I feel it now. Good news: I also have a similar job in college! But of course, not one historic site is like another, and I think of my old historic home often.

4. My Church

Luther's Seal
Again; have I found another amazing church in college? Absolutely! But just like my job example, no two church settings are exactly alike. I think the change in style is good for me. It's helped make sure I don't fall into a robotic routine at my home church, taking more comfort in that routine and familiarity than in the Word of God. But even though it's a good change, I can't help but miss that comforting familiarity of home. 

5.  A Car

the car still goes when I step on the gas so it must be fine.
But maybe it's a good thing I don't have a car to worry about...I'm this clueless!

Now I feel like I'm just whining, because there's more than enough to do within walking distance here. But hey, I'm an American, and Americans love their cars and the freedom for spontaneity they provide. 

Some of you might be wondering why I didn't list the obvious: my family and friends. Well of course I didn't list them; they're people, not things! ;) But of course, I miss my family and friends a bunch. Now I have yet another reason to be excited for Christmas!

For those of you moved out of the house: what things did you miss the most? How did you manage your homesickness (if you had any)? 
For those of you who haven't moved out yet: what things do you think you'll miss the most?


September 17, 2017

Riddle Me This, Answer I That.

..."that" which you asked me on my subtle/notsosubtle ask me anything post!

We'll start out with some questions from Hamlette:

What's your favorite tree?
Oh, you know, the kind that go from a vivid light green in spring to a rich, full-leafed form in summer, to a spark of red or orange in fall, to a still, snow covered sentry in the winter. ;) I've always liked weeping willows, but I also love any tree that changes with the seasons.

Natures beautiful tapestry. The final colourful celebration of life before a…

Favorite Jane Austen Book? 
NorthangerAbbeyPrideandPrejudice. I give no straight answers today!

Do you like pirates or superheroes better?
Eh, I've never really been into either. I guess I would say pirates, for their historical ties.

Do you have any Thanksgiving plans?
I have some very kind friends who have offered to have me, but I'll probably decide what I'm doing a little closer to the holiday.


Who's having an easier time of you adjusting to you being in college, you or your family?
Initially it was me; I'm not terribly homesick. I think about home pretty often, and look forward to seeing it again, but I don't feel scared or lonely. My parents were pretty sad at first, but I think they're fine now.

Next are some questions from Rachel:

How is your life so far?
Ooh, are you asking me to evaluate and analyze my entire life? ;) Now that's a deep question! My life so far is blessed, and I feel and realize that more now than ever. I could say that my life is nothing extraordinary, that I have no major talents or riches or accomplishments to boast of. But it is extraordinary in the fact that it has been good for 18 years and running, with nothing to truly complain about.

Your favorite movie?
For the sake of not hemming and hawing over the number of movies I love equally, I'll say Little Women.

Theodore “Laurie” Laurence - Little Women | Community Post: 15 Literary Hunks To Cuddle By The Fire via @BuzzFeed

Do you have a best friend? How did you meet?
I've been blessed with a few close friends, but the one I would consider my best friend is the girl I reenact with. We met at a historic sewing workshop about four years ago, and have sewed, traveled, and watched period dramas together countless times since!

What's your favorite animal?
A horse of course! ;) I live to rhyme.

Would you rather have a grand house in the middle of town, or a little cottage in the country?
I mused about this a bit in my post, Town Girl, Country Girl, because I long for both! I think that as long as I could have a nice house and garden, I would stay in town. Just not a very large one. :)
   

What's your favorite fairytale movie?
  Probably Ever After! 

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If you could ever switch places with a person, who would it be?
Jo March (someone should keep a running tally of how many times I use her in answers; I feel like it's been a lot!)

Which is your favorite season?
It is fall now, so I would say fall. Ask me in 2-3 months and it will be winter! :)

If you could meet anyone, who would it be?
 Jo March! ;) Just kidding; I would like to have tea with Tasha Tudor, and talk about lovely old things.

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What is your least favorite period drama?

The Way We Live Now and He Knew He Was Right were both depressing wastes of time, really. 10/10 do NOT recommend.

What's your favorite food?

As in favorite ingredient/food item? Chocolate. As in favorite dish? Chocolate. ;)

If there was any country you could visit, what would it be?

 If I could only visit ONE other country than my own, it would be England. 


Rae asks:

Do you have a major chosen?
Well, I haven't officially declared it to the college yet, but I've known for years that it's going to be historic preservation. Although that core goal hasn't changed, I've tweaked my minor/double major plan a dozen times these past two weeks! As of now I'm going to double major in historic preservation and history, and minor in museum studies. If I can add German in there somewhere, I will! I'm also going to take a lot of Art History and English courses...quadruple major, anyone? ;)

And a few questions from Sarah...

What is the weather like at your college? Is it just as autumnal as your blog?
It's been both a cool and warm September. I've been alternating between pants and layers, and shorts and t-shirts! Overall it's very nice weather here. :) The leaves have not turned as much as they have at Lavender Spring, however.

Autumn Walk

What is something you could share that you discovered by exploring the Blogger formatting?
I'm just impressed at how many nit-picky things you can tweak under advanced template, like the color and font style of dates and comments. I also decided to use a background straight from Blogger, and set most of the "layers" of the blog to transparent in order to better display it.

Thanks to everyone for submitting questions, and for reading my answers! I hope you have a lovely week. :)




September 11, 2017

What's on my (College) Bookshelf?

Let's get one thing straight: packing for college was not an easy task. And I've also got to tell you, I like things. Beautiful things. I treasure them up, and when those things are physical, and not just another pin or idea, they take up space in my room. Oftentimes, these things are books; the ultimate combination of a beautiful object full of beautiful ideas. So when I picked up my life from one house, and moved it a thousand miles away to a 17*10ish foot dorm to share with another person, I had to condense. And it was tricky!

Now thankfully I didn't have to get rid of the books I wasn't taking with me. My family is entirely sympathetic (and equally guilty) of my book collecting tendencies. But still, I had to decide what I was going to have available to read for the next months. For who can abide the thought of being stuck in a dorm with nothing to read? So here's a semi-complete list of what sits on the single shelf above my desk.

Art History Books
This is odd for two reasons: a) I'm not talking about my art history textbooks, just books about art history; and b) I'm not an art history major. But I really like the subject! And the books are kind of like picture books, really. :P It's also on a variety of topics, including neoclassicism, iconography, 17th Century art, and even one about Victorian pastime illustrations, which I bought at the local bookstore.
Image result for the pursuit of leisure victorian

History Books (aka the only nonfiction I read)
Topics are as follows: a pictorial history of Victorian fashion, a guide to Colonial Williamsburg, women teachers on the prairie, a book about Queen Victoria (using pictures from the new show!) and a biography of Abigail Adams. Clearly you can see how I could not leave those behind, especially as they double as material for papers!
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A Bit of Fun 
The complete novels of Jane Austen, one of the Mother Daughter Book Club books, and some cute notebooks are always there for me to wile away my time here most unstudiously! ;)

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Saved for the next snow day!
The Important Books
My confirmation Bible and Hymnal, and a prayer book. I put these last on the list not as an afterthought, but as a finale, since they (especially the Bible) are the most important books on the shelf. Hopefully they will be the most used as well!

So...what's on YOUR bookshelf?
Did you ever have to condense your book collection for college or an extended trip?
Which three books (besides the Bible) would you insist on having?
Do you have any recommendations for my college bookshelf?