Tuesday, February 24, 2009

“Enthusiasm is excitement with inspiration, motivation, and a pinch of creativity.” -Robert Bennett

One of the new things that I have decided to do with this blog is to write about people, blogs, or ideas that I find inspiring. Not only do I hope to introduce others to these wonders, but it actually helps me to feel even more inspired when I write.

Today I want to introduce you all to a very lovely lady named Paula Prass. You can see a link to her blog, Show + Tell, on the right. I don’t really remember how I first heard about Paula, it may have been through Heather Bailey, but I have come to admire her greatly! Paula is a designer, artist, and an all-round inspiring woman. If you go to her blog you will find links to her other websites/stores.

Now I will tell a little story that has to do with the above fabric. This is one of Paula’s; it is Par Avion in Ocean. Last month I showed it to Alex online and told him how much I loved it. What do you think he did? He ordered me a few yards as a surprise! I think I may have the sweetest boyfriend in the world, he’s pretty great. The fabric is even better looking in real life. I decided to contact Paula to tell her this little story, and also to tell her how much I love her blog. She got back to me within about 10 minutes I’d say and left a comment both here on my blog (on the Alistair MacLeod post) and an even longer one in response to my comment on her blog. I thought that that was very sweet of her.

This fabric has got to be one of the best designs that I’ve seen in a long time, and Paula actually has a few other items in her line (photo frames, note cards, etc) that coordinate and I’ve been thinking about getting a couple of things for myself. I will post a picture of what I sew with this fabric when it’s done. Right now I’m thinking block quilt because I don’t want to ruin the pattern of this fabric by cutting it up too much.

If any of you out there are in need of a little inspiration, do visit Paula’s blog and check it out.

Monday, February 23, 2009

"...but a solemn writer is always a bloody owl." -Ernest Hemingway

Since I have been lagging in the reading department (I have been reading, just not as often) and I’m feeling a lot more comfortable with this whole blog-thing, I’ve decided that I’m going to write about other stuff too. There are a lot of other things that I’d like to share. Whether these things are the projects I’m working on, the little things that I make, stories about the very talented people I’m meeting along the way, or (continuing on with) the books I’m reading, I just want to share more.

First things first, whaddaya think of my new blog design? Did it myself I did. I brushed off some of my old HTML skills and fiddled with one of Blogger’s templates. I think it turned out nicely. I may still tweak some things (mainly colours right now), but all in all I’m liking it. The background graphic is from Squidfingers. That little birdie at the top I love especially, it’s by Ida Waugh and appeared in a little book called Holly Berries (1881).

I guess before I continue on I should at least mention the books that I have in fact read since last posting. It would be rather mean of me to ignore them. The first book that I finished after last posting was The Blackwater Lightship by Colm Toibin. This has got to be one of the most amazing books that I have read in a long time. Toibin is a beautiful storyteller and I felt really connected with the main character, Helen (to the point that I was shocked at times by commonalities between her and I). While some have said that they’re tired of Toibin writing books about gay people (especially gay people and AIDS), I felt that because of his personal experience (write what you know) Toibin was cleverly adept at making the whole story come alive in a way that was compelling and didn’t rely on heart-pulling to keep the reader occupied. I see no problem with writing about the theme of homosexual identity, especially since it is a theme that needs to be openly explored and accepted.

Next up was Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair; this was a fantastic book again! I didn’t really know much about it before I picked it up and I hadn’t seen either of the movies, but I had heard good things about it and decided to give it a shot. I must admit that I have never been through a situation even remotely close to that described in the book, but I still really felt connected to the characters and to the story as a whole. I think that this is because much of the book is at least loosely based on Graham Greene’s own experience. It was a fairly sad book, but still very beautiful and well-written.

I started Night Letters by Robert Dessaix, and while I think it will be a very interesting read, I wasn’t able to get through it at the time. I’ve put it aside for another day, hopefully I do return to it.

I’ve been reading a lot of poetry, short stories, and journal articles instead of full-length books too. One of the best articles I read was The Victorian Sickroom in L. M. Montgomery's The Blue Castle and Emily's Quest : Sentimental Fiction and the Selling of Dreams which was written by Kate Lawson (a professor at the University of Waterloo) and published in the September 2007 issue of The Lion and the Unicorn. I just love reading journal articles, especially about Maud, and The Blue Castle is one of my favourites!

Currently I’m reading Heart and Soul, Maeve Binchy’s latest. Maeve Binchy just has such a way of making everyday life so interesting. Nothing fantastical or really crazy happens to any of her characters, but I would never say that their lives are boring. They’re normal people with normal lives, but I have always found everyday life interesting and I guess that’s why I love her books so much. I’m just about finished up with this one and I think the next will be Alistair MacLeod’s short story collection, Island.

Now that I'm done talking about books, I wanted to share this little guy that I made. His name is Ollie, and I made him for Alex. I based him off of a Christmas Ornament pattern that Anna Maria had posted to her blog (you can see a link to her blog on the right), I just changed a few things. Alex has also suggested that he'd like a bigger version (think decorative pillow-sized), which is what I'm currently working on. I'll post a picture of him when he's done. Oh, and the quote-name of this post was at Alex's request. He loves Hemingway...and owls...and stuff.

What else? I'm waiting for some fabric to arrive in the mail. I'm very excited about it all! I ordered Anna Maria's Dance Floor in burgundy and Mingling in rose, Heather Bailey's Tiled Primrose in rose, Alexander Henry's Spotted Owl in white, and Tina Givens'
Silhouette Polka in pink. I can't wait for them all to arrive!

Tomorrow, if I have the time that is, I'm going to tell you all about Paula Prass and what a nice lady she is!

Monday, February 9, 2009

All of us are better when we're loved. -Alistair MacLeod

On Saturday, Alex and I went to the live recording of CBC’s Saturday morning radio show, Go. The episode was called “Tiptoe Through the Titles”, and there were three independent booksellers competing in a trivia contest to win a sleepover with Alistair MacLeod. When Alex and I found out that the prize was a sleepover with Alistair MacLeod we were talking about how great it would be if AM was actually there at the recording.

I love Alistair MacLeod (so does Alex). I first read No Great Mischief in a Celtic Studies class I took at UofT and fell in love with it immediately. Whenever I see a copy of this book I have an urge to buy it just so that I can have a copy on hand to give to anyone at some point; it’s one of the few books that I feel that way about. I actually have an urge right now to read it again (but I already have a couple other books on the go).

Continuing on with my story: Alex and I got up super-early Saturday morning (we had to be there at 8:20 am) and took the streetcar to CBC. There weren’t a lot of other people there (only about 20-25, I’d say) but there were a couple of people that Alex knew from his program. We were all funneled into an elevator - super scary for my by the way since I have a tendency to be claustrophobic with that many people in a small space – and went to the studio. As we were walking into the studio Alex looked into the green room and who do you think he saw? Alistair MacLeod. I was so happy; I don’t think I stopped smiling through the entire show. The host kept referring to him as Canada’s cuddliest author, and I have to say that I agree!

It was really great, and even though neither of us got to speak with him it was just nice to see him and hear him talk in person. I took a picture of him as he was leaving the studio, but it’s a little blurry (taking pictures with Blackberry while in motion = not good idea), so I’m not posting it here. I *heart* you Alistair MacLeod.