January 31, 2016

Happy February!

Welcome to February, people! Here's to a most joyous Groundhog, Valentine, and President's Day all in one! 

Does anything special happen in February for you?
What do you think of February? ( I think it's rather overlooked, the poor thing. It can't help that it has nasty weather.)

January 23, 2016

My Favorite Soundtracks

Of all the things which make a good period drama exceptional, an amazing soundtrack is first and foremost. The best soundtracks will blend so well and carry you through the plot of a movie that you may not even notice they are there. Others are easily noticeable, but in a way that will move you and tug at your heartstrings. One thing that all good soundtracks have in common is that they will change your perception of a movie or show. Music is extremely powerful, and that's why I'd like to share with you a few of my favorite movie soundtracks (and by sheer coincidence, some of my favorite movies!)
1. The Paradise
If you ever want to be caught up in a swirl of beautiful, delicate sounds, listen to some music from The Paradise. Elegant, floaty, and at times a bit mischievous, this music is a delight! (The show is a delight as well, in case you were wondering.)
If you doubt my words, take a look at the fluttery lace and fans during the opening theme!

2. Copperhead
Confession: I have not seen this movie. *hem.* I just haven't gotten around to it yet, ok? But I have listened to the soundtrack oodles of times! And oh, is it ever beautiful. Heart-achingly soul-wrenchingly beautiful. Especially the first song. This is what moving music is


3. Belle
If you were looking for light, happy music, allow me to direct you back to #1 of this post. You will not find it here! Gorgeous music, yes, but tense. Even the happier songs have a sense of melancholy and bittersweet that definitely set the mood for the movie. If you are looking for a dramatic, powerful feel from music, listen to this movie's soundtrack. It won't disappoint! 


4. Last of the Mohicans
This soundtrack feels so epic, timeless, and noble to me. The movie is one-of-a-kind; it leaves you with a feeling I have never found anywhere else.  I feel like more words won't help with this one, so here's my favorite piece from the whole film:


5. John Adams
If you liked #4, you'll probably like the John Adams theme. The two main themes are eerily similar; you get the same epic feel from both. I love how this soundtrack feels so patriotic and independent. I will admit that the rest of the John Adams soundtrack does not hold up to the amazing theme, but the opening titles alone could make up for the rest of the music!                                                                                                                                      

6. Little Women
I was going to try to limit myself to five favorites, but I simply cannot exclude Little Women. There is no music so dear nor so effortlessly perfect than this. I can't imagine Little Women without this music. This is an American classic for sure! I wish I could better put into words my love for this soundtrack, but if I tried a little harder I might end up writing a ten-page paper on it! ;) So I'll let the music speak for itself:


How I hate to stop at six! Good heavens, I just got to the end of this and realized that I plumb forgot to add the Book Thief! Sad music for a sadder movie, people. Honorable mentions also go to Gettysburg, Ken Burns's Civil War documentary, and Emma 2009.
What are your favorite movie soundtracks?
Which soundtrack here did you like the most?
Do you prefer serious, moving soundtracks, or light, fluttery ones?

January 17, 2016

A Lady's Language

The Victorian era was full of flounce and finery. Sometimes it can be a bit too frilly for me, (which must mean it is very ornamented indeed) but when tasteful, the Victorian era is absolutely lovely in both England and America. The fashion, hair, art, dancing, and etiquette are all beautiful. But I digress! What I'm here to talk about today is an interesting Victorian fad: The Language of Flowers.

                                         All flowers have a meaning. The Victorians used to use flowers as a symbol to express their feelings. Here is a list of different flowers and their meanings.:
That's right: Victorians discovered and perfected the art of floriography, or the idea that every flower has a meaning. They sent flowers in bouquets or in letters, and with the use of a handy dandy flower dictionary, could decode "secret" messages! Isn't that just a splendid idea? What could be more pleasant than a language based on flowers?
Hollyhock represents fruitfulness and ambition.
           What first drew my attention to this pleasant practice was a little dictionary/book illustrated by Kate Greenaway (who, by the way was a great artist and probably should have been on my favorite illustrators list). My mother gave me the copy she received on her 16th birthday, and I've put it in my hope chest to save.
This isn't the cover I have, but it's prettier!
     Oftentimes the meanings fit the flower or plant quite well. For instance, an apple signifies temptation; a flytrap, deceit; lemon, zest; and olive, peace.
     It's not all love and friendship in the meanings, though. One can send some pretty nasty messages, such as "I declare war against you" with Wild Tansy, "Revenge" with Birdsfoot Trefoil, "You will be the death of me" with Hemlock (which is very poisonous), and "Hatred" with common Basil!
Birdsfoot Trefoil:
Revenge, I Say!
           Some meanings are not just one or two words: some like "For once may pride befriend me", "Your charms are engraven on my heart", and "Your qualities, like your charms, are unequaled". In fact, there are so many meanings for every thought and emotion, it makes me wonder how much one could say with flowers alone!
     I think it would be fun if we all started using the language of flowers with our friends. Wouldn't it be neat, if at the end of a letter (or a blog post, for that matter!) we included a certain flower that could express our sentiments in a charming way? Here I'll start the tradition: the flower below is called volkamenia. Can you find out what it means? (I mean every word of it!:))

         Have you ever heard of the language of flowers?
          Were you surprised with any of the meanings?     
                                              Did you find out what volkamenia stands for?                                                       

January 11, 2016

My Favorite Illustrators

Hello everyone! I thought I'd share with you some of my favorite artists today. To me, a good illustrator helps train a child to have pictures in their head while they read, as that is not always a habit in kids. Even though I knew how to read pretty early, I loved seeing pictures that helped me imagine places and times far away. The combination of beautiful words and pictures in my childhood have influenced my love of reading, and that's pretty amazing.

In my search for illustrators I found/was reminded of so many more than I originally considered! So here are 11 of my favorite illustrators, inpo(in no particular order) people that make words come to life! 

Jan Brett

If you didn't guess from her Nordic sweater, Jan Brett produces brilliant Scandinavian illustrations for her own books, many of which are Christmas themed. The illustration above is from Trouble with Trolls and it's every bit as delightful as her other books. One of my favorites is called The Mitten, where one boy's lost mitten manages to fit more and more animals wanting to get cozy!

Breezy Brookshire
Breezy Brookshire is a newer discovery for me, and I only wish I saw her illustrations when I was younger! She draws and paints the cutest things. Really, her subject matter couldn't be better: she has everyday scenes of family and happiness, and has even illustrated a book about women in the Bible, called For Such a Time as This. You can see her website here. Below is one of her pictures.
Mary Engelbreit

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Mary Engelbreit has made thousands of adorable illustrations for years. She fills day-by-day calenders, books, and all sorts of merchandise with them! Her drawings are always cheerful, no matter what subject they are. She often pairs her illustrations with quotes and idioms, making an alltogether lovely combination.

Tasha Tudor

Image result for tasha tudor illustrationsImage result for tasha tudor illustrationsImage result for tasha tudor

          Ah,Tasha Tudor. What a wonderful woman. She embraced the old-fashioned and feminine, and used her talents to illustrate dozens of beautiful books and advent calendars. Truly, if you haven't seen Tasha's artwork, you are missing out! (and if the pictures look un-arranged, I apologize. They're so touchy when I try to line them up!)

Beatrix Potter

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Beatrix Potter, if you didn't know already, wrote the cutest little children's books ever! (Well, maybe not ever, but they're up there on the list of cute children's books!) From Peter Rabbit to Benjamin Bunny, Potter's classic, cozy pictures of woodland animals have enchanted children for years. There is also a movie about her life called Miss Potter, if you care to see it. I saw it a few years ago and enjoyed it, though I don't remember much about it. An illustration from The Tale of Peter Rabbit is below.

Image result for beatrix potter peter rabbit
Renee Graef

Talk about creating memories! If I had to decide who my favorite illustrator was from this list, it would probably be Graef, just because of the nostalgia behind each one of her Little House and Kirsten books! Last year I sent my Kirsten book collection to be signed by her, and it was one of the most meaningful "presents" I had that year. Kirsten was my first American Girl doll, and I absolutely loved reading her books over and over. The illustrations are ingrained in my memory. And to top it all off, I just discovered that Graef illustrated most of the modern Little House books! That just about doubles the amount of sentiment I have for Graef's illustrations.
Image result for kirsten larson illustrationsImage result for little house illustrations graef

Garth Williams

More Little House nostalgia here! I wonder what people who haven't read the Little House books (and I know it's crazy, but there are such people) think of the Graef and Williams illustrations. but to me, each picture is so connected to the words of the books and they fit so well with my reader's "eye" of what it ought to look like that I can't imagine them being any better.

And now for some honorable mentions:

Peter Spier-wrote many children's books and had a unique style!
Barbara Cooney-beautiful stories with beautiful pictures. Miss Rumphius and Roxaboxen are must-reads!
Dan Andreasen-illustrated the Felicity AND Samantha American Girl books-instant winner here!
Susan Winget-illustrator for the Lang company-cute drawings!

Image result for barbara cooneyImage result for dan andreasen  felicity learns a lesson
Whew, that was a mouthful! I hope you all enjoyed seeing some pretty illustrations. All illustrations belong, of course, to the amazing people that drew them.
Who are your favorite illustrators?
Do you have a favorite from this list?