Monday, September 26, 2016

Lafcadio Hearn - 112 years of captivation

Do you ever feel bereft after reading a book? You come to end and think, ‘Surely, there’s more, right? It can’t end here.’ For me, Lafcadio Hearn is one of those amazing authors who has the power to hold you captive until the end.  With each of Lafcadio Hearn’s books that I read, I am spellbound.

Born in 1850 to a Greek mother and Irish father, Patrick Lafcadio Hearn would continuously seek his place in the world throughout his life. He came to America in 1869 after he was shipped off from England by a distant cousin who did not want the responsibility of caring for Hearn, who was nineteen at the time.

Cincinnati, Ohio would be his home for nearly a decade. There he made a name for himself as a reporter for the Cincinnati Daily Enquirer with articles ranging from your normal literary critics and city news to lurid accounts of Victorian murders. Despite his fame as a reporter, he was fired from the Daily Enquirer newspaper due to his illegal marriage to an African American woman named Alethea "Mattie" Foley. She worked at the boarding house where he was staying at the time. Ever interested in learning about new people and cultures, Lafcadio would often frequent the kitchen where Mattie worked in order to hear her life stories. They were married in 1874. His marriage suffered by the actions of both Hearn and Mattie and despite trying to reconcile their differences, they ended up divorcing in 1877.  

Near the end of 1877, Lafcadio Hearn decided he needed a change of pace and moved to New Orleans. He worked various odd jobs trying to scrape together enough money before landing a job as a reporter again. After a decade in New Orleans, Lafcadio became once again disenchanted.

Luckily, he was given the opportunity to go the West Indies as a special correspondent for Harper’s Magazine. He would spend two years there, writing articles and publishing a book about life in that area. By the end of two years, realizing that he needed to make money and elevate his art, he left Martinique for New York.

Having always been fascinated by the Orient, Lafcadio pitched an idea of writing a travel book about Japan to Harper and Brothers. They agreed to publish a book, but gave him no contract or advance, but Lafcadio would not be deterred. He wrote several articles for Harper’s Magazine in order to finance his trip.

By March 8, 1890, Lafcadio had set off for a new adventure in Japan, in what he called ‘Fairyland’. He would spend the rest of his life in Japan. He married a Japanese woman, Setsu Koizumi, and had four children. He even became a Japanese citizen and changed his name to Yakumo Koizumi.

Years before in New Orleans, he had written to a friend, Henry Krehbiel that he felt out of place in the world. ‘I ought never to have been in this century, I think sometimes, because I live forever in dreams of other centuries and other faiths and other ethics, - dreams rudely broken by the sound of cursing in the street below.’

I think perhaps Lafcadio found his place in the world when he landed in Yokohama on April 12, 1890. A world where spirits, legends, and myths still roamed despite the advancements of modernity.

During his years in Japan, Lafcadio would write articles for various newspapers and publish several books on Japanese travel and life. He would become a teacher in the city of Matsue before moving with his increasing family to Tokyo. He was offered a job as an English professor at the Imperial University in Tokyo and as a lecturer for Tokyo and Waseda universities.

Lafcadio passed away on September 26, 1904 from heart failure. He left behind his wife and four children and his wife’s family. After his death, the influence of his books continued to captivate the western world. Friends within the literary world would publish books on his life and their interaction with him. Elizabeth Bisland’s The Life and Letters of Lafcadio Hearn and Milton Bronner’s Letters from the Raven are two such examples.

112 years later, Hearn still manages to captivate his audience describing not only Japan, but America and the West Indies at the end of the nineteenth century.

From one fellow lover of Japan to another, thank you for keeping the world of old Japan alive and well and continuing to inspire us in the twentieth-first century.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Sweet Christmas stitching progress


After doing some baking this morning, I pulled out Sweet Christmas by Cuore e Batticuore. I was planning on doing a rotation with my Sampler 4 Saisons pattern, but I ended up stitching all day on Sweet Christmas.

I blame my stitching needle. I bought some size 28 tapestry needles earlier. I forgot how tiny they are.....I am so used to using size 24 or 26 because I normally can't find size 28 in the stores.

Maybe I should switch back to 24 or 26?! It seems like I stitch faster with those sizes.

Do they make longer needles in the 28 size or are they always that tiny? Hmm...

I am loving the dessert I am stitching on, a strawberry cake! It's an adorable motif so far :)

Hopefully next Sunday, I can work on a rotation and not just this pattern O_o"

Have a great week, everyone!

Until next time >___<

Sunday Baking - Boo-tterscotch and Chocolate Chip Blondies

What do you do when you have a bag of overpowering M&Ms? Make blondies, of course!


I picked up M&Ms' new fall flavor, boo-tterscotch, last month, but after tasting a few, I wasn't sure what to do with them.

Surfing the web for a good recipe using them, I ran across a recipe that was based off of this one for cinnamon toffee blondies that I thought would be a great base for my M&Ms.

I used a whole bag of boo-tterscotch M&Ms and about half of a bag of leftover semi-sweet morsels.



The blondies came out dense, moist, and full of flavor. I love the combination of the butterscotch, cinnamon, and chocolate! Delicious.

In addition to using the M&Ms and the morsels, the only other change I made to the recipe was an extra teaspoon of cinnamon. My goal was to mask the butterscotch somewhat since the M&Ms packed a punch.

Overall, absolutely delicious and perfect for the fall season :)

I think I might have to try the original recipe that I used as my basis for these blondies. It sounds yummy :)

Until next time >___<

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Saturday Antiquing

Hi! My mom, sister, and I went to Pensacola today for an antique show that was being held at the fairgrounds. 

There was so much to see! Old furniture, Civil War items, books, glass, ceramics, textiles, and jewelry.


One of booths had this gorgeous chatelaine for sale. My sister and I were admiring it and the dealer said she had the price at a thousand, but would take $700.

Sorry, I'll never have that type of money to shell out on my salary. But I will admit it was beautiful.


I came across a curious collection of ceramic bunnies so you know I'd stop and take a picture of them.


My favorite seller was selling her brooches at the show! I ended up buying a few for my collection and to wear to work.

The two brooches on the top row date to the Edwardian period. They have the older 'C' clasp on the back with a round hinge.

My sister and I came across this lovely modern zodiac brooch. It is the symbol for Capricorn. It isn't my sign, but it was too pretty and just plain fun so I couldn't not buy it.

My mom is a Capricorn so I told her she could wear it to work if she wanted :) I think it would be perfect for Mardi Grad as it has that sort of feel to it.

I wish I could find a lovely Gemini brooch! That would be neat >__<

Until next time >___ <

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Sunday Stitching - WIP and a New Start

Good evening, everyone. I spent the weekend crafting and stitching. I was hoping to go antiquing, but our weather has been rainy and dreary, definitely not fun conditions for antique shopping.

Instead I stopped by my local craft shops for some yarn, Polyfil, linen, and threads.

Yesterday I finished crocheting some gifts for the holidays and today I stitched on two patterns. I usually try not to start a new project while I have a WIP going, especially when it is another 'large' pattern, but I actually enjoyed the change in my stitching routine.

This morning I stitched on Sampler 4 Saisons. Here is where I left off after 'frogging' and stitching last time.

(Sidenote: Did I tell you what I noticed when I was 'frogging'? Some of white 'leaves' weren't correct?! I had two different dye lots of B5200?!?! Luckily it wasn't a lot of stitching so I was able to 'frog' it without much trouble. Who would have thought I would have two DMC colors that weren't matching?!)



Here was my progress by lunch time. Not bad for a couple of hours of stitching. Last weekend, I went to Michael's and Joann's to check my DMC 498 thread. Sadly, nothing matched it so my plan is to stitch as much as possible with my remaining three skeins and then finish the rest of the tree with new skeins.


This is my progress after lunch and this evening on Sweet Christmas by Cuore e Batticuore. The only fabric I could find in a big enough size was Wichelt-Permin in 32ct lambswool. Some of you know that I HATE this linen. It is stiff and coarse and I swore I would never use it again, but beggars can't be choosers when you live in town nowhere near a cross stitch store.

Don't worry though, I plan on sticking with this project :)

Until next time >___<

Monday, September 5, 2016

Sampler 4 Saisons disaster!


Is it polite to curse on blog posts? Because I feel like it right now. So I got out my Sampler 4 Saisons pattern, removed it from the Q-snaps, and ironed it so I could move to a new section.

And guess what?

Even though all the skeins I had were DMC 498, they are different colors........which you can tell from the tree branch on the right and the section of branches at the lower left....

Part of me wants to let loose an unholy scream of cross stitcher frustration and the other part is so tempted to throw this bloody project in my closet where it will stay for decades!!!!

Ugh.....so the rational part me says go to Hobby Lobby with a piece of the correct color of 498 and see if it matches. If it is darker and matches the newer tree section....I'll just have to suck it up and frog 90% of the tree. I will pray to the craft gods that the thread matches the correct i.e. lighter color.

So much for a nice lazy day of stitching.......

Until next time :**(

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Primitive Hare - Witch's Kitchen finish ♡



Pattern: Witch's Kitchen by The Primitive Hare
Fabric: 28ct Jobelan lambswool linen by Wichelt
Threads: DMC 310 and 972
Start/Finish: 8/31 - 9/4/2016

Good evening! I hope my readers in the US are having a great Labor Day weekend.

My sister and I went across the bay today to the Michael's store in the Eastern Shore mall. I was looking for the Caron Cakes yarn that Caron had just put out. I saw it yesterday in the store in town and they were sold out of almost all the colors (NO!!!!!)

I was able to find one of the colors at the store in the Eastern Shore this morning. I bought two of the bumbleberry color, which is a lovely variegated purple.

When I asked the cashier at my local store if they were getting more of the yarn in , she said yes. They didn't realize it would be so popular. Honesty, I didn't think it would be either. I guess there are more Caron yarn fans in Mobile than I realized!!! Or they just liked the colors in that new line.

It's sad that the line is exclusive to Michael's and has sold out online. You can only get them in the stores!!!! I wish Caron would let you buy them from their website. Since that line celebrates 100 years of the Caron company, you'd think they would want it in more stores than just Michael's.

In other crafting news, I finished the Witch's Kitchen design today. I decided not to stitch the border as I felt it would be too much yellow.

It will go in my 'to finish' pile of cross stitch designs until I decide how to finish it :)

I'm not sure if I should start another design or stitch on my WIP Sampler 4 Saisons tomorrow. I think I will probably stitch on my WIP......hopefully my order from Needle in a Haystack comes in sometime this month.

The pattern called for dolphin linen by Weeks Dye Works and two skeins of aubergine thread by Gloriana Florimell. The store didn't have 36ct in their inventory, but they could order 35ct since they usually have it in stock.

I'm thinking happy thoughts so my order doesn't get backordered!!

Have a great Labor Day tomorrow! Be safe!

Until next time >___<

Saturday, September 3, 2016

August Recap

Recap:

Read:
1. Under the Devil's Wing by T.S. Barnett
2. Far East Stories by Edward Dolch
3. A House in Peking by Robert Payne
4. Emperor of the Eight Islands by Lian Hearn
5. Autumn Princess, Dragon Child by Lian Hearn
6. Revisionary by Jim C. Hines
7. The Way of the Runner: A Journey into the Fabled World Of Japanese Running by Adharanand Finn
8. Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn
9. Paper Wishes by Lois Sepahban

Crafts:
1. Tall Kitty amigurumi
2. 3 Pokeball amigurumis
3. Bubble Pop Chibi Kitty amigurumi

Cross Stitch:
1. JBW French Country Owl

Hi, everyone. It looks like I did more reading than crafting, but I have been stuck on a doll amigurumi pattern for the last part of the month. The pattern calls for a 2.5 mm hook, which has taken me a bit to get used to. While I like how the doll is coming along, the crochet instructions can be confusing sometimes. I am hoping I can finish that doll sometime this month.

In terms of reading, lots and lots of fun books. There wasn't a bad book in the bunch. My favorite series so far is The Tale of Shikanoko by Lian Hearn. There are four books in the series, which the author has released back to back since June. I have the third book in the series, but I am waiting until it gets closer to the release date of the last book so I can go and buy that before reading the third book. (I promise there is a weird bookworm logic to that!! >-<)

I've caught up on Jim C. Hines Libriomancer series after getting the recent book in the series from the library. It's a great story following a group of individuals called the Porters, who can access books magically. I love Jim C. Hines writing style, fun, sarcastic, and witty. Not to mention, plenty of geeky book references. If you're a bookworm, you'll love the series. The bad part about being caught up is waiting for the next book to come out......sigh......lamenting of a bookworm's soul.

With cross stitching, I was able to work a bit on my Sampler 4 Saisons pattern and I started two new projects, one of which I finished, the JBW French Country Owl. The other is by The Primitive Hare called Witch's Kitchen. I ran across The Primitive Hare's patterns on Pinterest and knew I had to stitch up at least one of them for the fall/Halloween season.

In other cross stitch news, I ordered some fabric and threads from Needle in a Haystack. Looking through the Just Cross Stitch 2016 Halloween issue, I fell in love with the Potions, Brews, & Spells pattern by Cherished Stitches. It took me a while to find a shop that carried the required fabric. One of the ladies at the needlework shop said that they were out of stock of the color I needed, but that they could order it. I'm hoping it comes in sooner than later ^___^ It should be an interesting experience as I've never stitched on that color or brand of fabric. It's a grey color fabric.

I'm off to wander to my local Michael's to look at their fall/Halloween items and later on I am meeting my friends at the Charlotte-Conde museum house downtown. My friend Kristina has a groupon, which makes it even better. I've never been to this museum house as I never remember it because it is hidden around the corner from Fort Conde. I can't wait to see a 'new' museum house!

Until next time ^____^

August Amigurumi Roundup


Sunday, August 28, 2016

JBW French Country Owl Stitching ♡

Pattern: French Country Owl by JBW Designs
Fabric: 32ct cream Belfast linen by Zweigart
Threads: recommended DMC
Start/Finish: 8/27-28/2016

I was in the mood to stitch something fall/autumn themed this weekend. I don't know about you, but I can't wait for the summer to end. It doesn't help that all the craft stores have their fall/Halloween/Thanksgiving selections out! The weather needs to catch up to the stores :)

Picking a pattern from my newly purchased stash, I chose the owl from JBW Designs. A fun and fast pattern to stitch up.

Have you guys seen the newest Just Cross Stitch magazines?! So many cute fall season/holiday designs. It is hard to choose my next project.

I hope you had a fabulous weekend! Have a great week :)

Until next time >___<