Friday, December 28, 2007

Golden and Charming

My Christmas present to my sister was a version of the Charming Handbag from Amy Karol's "Bend the Rules Sewing." She picked the fabric: a glitzy satin for the outside and a soft quilting cotton for the inside. The result was a beautiful little purse, perfect for the many things my sister carries around: lipgloss, cell phone, and camera.

I really love the shape, and it involved a new technique for me to practice: a square bottom without pulling in the corners like on a tote bag. The book says you can resize the pattern to make a bag suitable for larger items. Perhaps making one out of a durable canvas would be a good tote bag for hauling my computer and other little electronic bits to England?

I've still got a few projects lined up before I leave, such as a circle skirt (fabric already cut), a knit iPod cozy (gave my dad my old one to fit his new digicam), a sewn zippered pouch to hold my electronics/cables on the flight to England, and a padded zip pouch or knit cozy for my new external hard-drive. Also, I've got to make a set of fabric ties to prevent tangled cords. I like to keep my electronics scratch-free and drop-resistant, so a few little protective pouches and a bag that can hold all these things is exactly what I need.

Where I'll Be Going

I've compiled a list of places I plan on going in England. Some of these are famous, others not so much. If you have any suggestions, or even if you've stumbled across someplace on the Internet that looks fun... let me know!

In addition to York proper, here's the list of other towns/sites I hope to see before returning to the US.
  • Hay-on-Wye - a tiny town in Wales with over 30 book shops. Known as a mecca for bibliophiles and for its book festival in June.
  • Barter Books in Alnwick- I discovered this town in Northumberland when looking to get a copy of the "Keep Calm and Carry On" poster. Since it's relatively near York, and I'm always looking to go off the beaten path, I'll pay it a visit.
  • Loch Ness-- I'll visit it maybe when Scotland isn't quite so cold (i.e. June). The environs are supposed to be gorgeous, so I won't waste my time looking for Nessie.
  • London Ghost Walk - Recommended by Gina, I think I may have to wait till Marquis comes to do this one. I'm a chicken!
  • Winchester - Once the political and religious seat of power in England (before it got moved to London/Canterbury), this city has a beautiful cathedral and all sorts of other lovely buildings. Maybe I'll get tired of architecture on this trip, but really? I dont' think so!
  • Chawton - Home of Jane Austen - As an Anglophile with 19th century sensibilities, I must go to Jane Austen's home. Not off the beaten path, but a must-see anyway.
  • Bath - I've gotten 3 recommendations from to visit Bath from various Brits I know with wildly differing tastes. I've got to go because of the Roman baths, the cathedral, and the surrounding villages.
  • Donna Nook - inspired by the cute fat squishiness of this photo (warning: it's a cute overload!) I want to go and have a look at the seals. Hopefully I won't be overcome by the cute and decide to squeeze one. That could be dangerous! I'll probably go here on one of my first weekends, as the seals tend to be around more during the winter.
  • Haworth, Yorkshire - Home of the Bronte Sisters - As with Jane Austen (but this one is closer!) I simply must pay visit to the home of the Bronte Sisters. I'll be in the Yorkshire moors, living my life much as the despondent Catherine, loathing and loving the brooding Heathcliffe!
  • Cath Kidston Store - Not sure which location I'll make it to yet. I was inspired to visit this store because of the Yvestown blog. My aesthetic falls almost entirely under this category of country-flowery-prettiness.
  • Sawrey, Cumbria - A village in the Lake District where Beatrix Potter wrote most of her stories. I passed through here on my last trip to England in 2002, and was completely charmed by it. I want to go back.
  • Hadrian's Wall - Our tour group in high school stopped here. I was fascinated by the museum and the countryside. This will be somewhere I go with Marquis, because of the classical connections.
  • Scarborough - Not far from York, I'd like to take a stop in town to have a look-about.
  • Oxford - A town you visit because it's there, and chock full of history. Why else? Oh, the University, the fact that places Chaucer described are still there!
Of course I've neglected London, but that's another post for another time and another list. And obviously I'll get recommendations from friends and I'll do some traveling with them at places I've never even considered before.

But that's all part of the adventure!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Lady Mercy Won't Be Home Tonight

My parents don't listen to music very often. When I was growing up, my dad only listened to the Beatles and Enya. My mom only listened to Julio Iglesias.

But oddly enough, my parents have surreptitiously exposed me to great "old-school" music. For example, my dad would sing the "Bring me my bow of burning gold" line from Emerson, Lake and Palmer's "Jerusalem," and it was only through the wonder of the internet that I realized he wasn't making it up!

Often, however, I've discovered good music through friends and the internet. Of course, I'd heard of Queen before college, but until I became friends with Laura, I hadn't appreciated the depth and breadth of their talent.

But even so, I haven't heard all the greatness of Queen, especially "Hammer to Fall." Thanks to my sister's boyfriend Jav and World of Warcraft's "Hammerfall," I now watch the Live Aid 1985 performance over and over and over. (Jav was reminded of the song because of the WoW reference. He then suggested I watch it on Youtube. I've been hooked since.) I just love the energy Freddie Mercury exudes when he starts out "Hey! hey! hey! hey! Hammer to fall!" It just perfectly anticipates how incredible the performance is going to be.

Though I think Freddie Mercury was pretty crazy, he is, to me, one of the most brilliant musicians and singers ever. Even if his wardrobe is rather bizarre, his voice and the music are pure elegance. Hammer to Fall probably isn't their "greatest" song, as Bohemian Rhapsody takes the cake there. However, there's something so brilliant about it. It's one of those songs that makes you want to bust out singing, like Fat Bottomed Girls, even if it just so happens to be in front of your grandmother.

I love that song. I love that band.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Absence Before Return

Today marks the last day I will be in Austin for over 7 months. That's the longest I've been away from it since I moved here for college. I've really come to love this town. It's quirky, amazing, and the place I've really grown up.

I head home for the holidays tomorrow, and on January 3, I leave for England. York, to be precise. I'll be there for 6 months, until the very end of June. Then I'm off to Spain for the requisite summer visiting of relatives, my favorite food, and hot weather. I return to the States on August 4, and to Austin shortly thereafter.

Tomorrow is the last day I see my beloved boy for over 5 months, until he visits me in May. It's the longest we've been apart, and I'm going to miss him like crazy.

I'll miss my family: especially my sister, who's been the best roommate ever. I'll miss all my friends--those who graduate in May, and who'll then be off to make lives for themselves in places far away from Austin.

I'm hoping York will be a chance for me to change my perspective, to gain a little more self-sufficiency and independence, to get a taste of a new system of education, travel all over England, and, of course, eat lots of delicious takeaway Indian food and fish and chips! If y'all have any suggestions of places for me to go when in the UK, shoot me an email or comment.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Time for Beginning

Hi friends!

Yesterday as I rifled through files on my hard-drive I stumbled upon little essays I'd written a couple of years ago. These consisted mostly of thoughts, some fiction, and were quite melancholy in tone. What amazed me most was how eloquently I'd written some things. This surprised me because recently I'd been lamenting how out of touch I'd felt with my writing and academic pursuits, and consequently that I was floundering and losing interest in them.

The purpose of this little space is to, I hope, keep my interest in writing as strong as it was when I mused and wrote those little tidbits. I'd also like to share my crafty projects. The chorus of the crafting community is so inspiring and beautiful, that it makes me want to add my own little voice to it. Finally, I want to share my travels and experiences. I love observing my surroundings, and so I'll post pictures and stories about places I've seen whilst wandering.

It's been a while since I joined the blog-bandwagon. I hope this new space will encourage new ideas and inspiration, and keep the "folks back home" updated on my whereabouts.