Thursday, December 31, 2009

Pins, anyone?

For my last post before the New Year, I thought I'd show you pictures of the pins that I received for Christmas, some that I bought afterwards, and two I received from a dear friend in the fall.

I received these two brooches from my mom for Christmas. The snowman brooch as an addition to our holiday pin collection and because it said London on the bag that the snowman is carrying. This is a neat little pin because it reminds me of Mary Poppins if she was a snowman!

The second brooch is by Kirks Folly. I adore Kirks Folly brooches, but hardly buy them because they can be pricey. What do you think? Isn't it lovely?! It is a kitty fairy. Fairies and cats, you just can't go wrong!

I bought these pins the day after Christmas at my local Target store. My collection of winter/Christmas pins is quite small so I thought I'd add to my stash with these little guys. My favorite is the Baking Spirits Bright ;) And guess what, they were all 50% off! Woohoo ^___^

This last pic features two pins that a dear friend of mine in New Zealand sent me before the holidays! I think I took a picture of them earlier, but it wasn't the best quality. What do think? I love wearing these pins to work! Don't you just love the dark blue of the butterfly pin?! It is made out of paua shell.

Until next time ^___^

A rant about what?!?

Over the holidays, I was able to finish reading Bleak House by Charles Dickens. It has been a slow read as I’ve been mostly reading it during my lunch break at work. I finally finished it last week with several days off! Bleak House is first and foremost a satire on the Chancery court system of Dickens’ time, but what a tangled web Mr. Dickens weaves in this novel. There are a vast number of plots running throughout this novel, all involved in some way, whether directly or indirectly, to the Chancery case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce.

While reading Bleak House, I’ve come to notice that there will always be that one character that you hate in a Dickens novel. In this novel, there are several characters you will come to loath, Mr. Tulkinghorn, Mr. Vholes, or Mr. Smallweed to name a few. I hope I am not the only person who could not stand Mr. Harold Skimpole, the long-time friend of Mr. John Jarndyce.

A child-like, amiable character who claims to know nothing of worldly matters such as money, employment, or responsibility. A man who provides entertainment for his friends Mr. Jarndyce and his wards with lively conversation, singing, and music, but underneath it all is someone who we would call a leech in our modern terms.

We meet Mr. Skimpole early on in the novel when he comes to visit Mr. Jarndyce and meet the wards of Jarndyce and Jarndyce. Later that same night, Richard and Esther are called downstairs after hearing the news that Mr. Skimpole has ‘been took.’ They find Mr. Skimpole with a warrant for his arrest unless he pays about £25 for his debts. Knowing nothing of money and not wishing to bother Mr. Jarndyce about the situation, Mr. Skimpole asks Richard and Esther to bail him out. Agreeing not mention the matter to Mr. Jarndyce, they pay the bail with what money they have between them. Of course, their guardian finds out about the matter and insists upon repaying Esther and Richard.

Mr. Skimpole’s actions through the entirety of the novel can be summed up by Mr. Jarndyce’s remark while talking to Esther and Richard about the bail money: “…You can’t make him responsible. The idea of Harold Skimpole with designs or plans, or knowledge of consequences! Ha, ha, ha!” Sadly, I think Mr. Skimpole’s character knows actually what his plans are and where to get the means to achieve them.

Oh, and did I mention that Skimpole has a family?! Oh, yes, he does! His wife is an unfortunate woman who probably didn’t realize what kind of man she had married with all of Mr. Skimpole’s talk to love, poetry, and childishness. His three daughters are silly girls who know nothing of domestic arts, but have been taught by their father to play music and sing. How Mr. Skimpole leeches off others to provide for their welfare, I know not.

I do know that Mr. Skimpole ranks up there with Dickens’ other cringe-worthy characters such as Uriah Heep and Edward Murdstone in David Copperfield and Rigaud in Little Dorrit. It was said during Dickens’ period, that Skimpole was modeled after one of his literary friends, Leigh Hunt, to such an extent that it was greatly spoke of and the relationship between Hunt and Dickens could not be resolved. Ouch!

Until next time ^___^

Family Christmas

Christmas this year can be summed up with the following image in mind: our aunt’s cat sitting in the middle of the living room floor watching everyone unwrap presents, while secretly wondering to himself which piece of paper he should attack first!

My gift to my mother this year was Morning Berries by LHN. I stitched this design earlier in the year and just recently got it framed at a local shop in Satsuma.

What do you think? I love the choice of colors with the mat board and frame. I'm sorry the quality isn't good. Low lighting in the living room and glass are not a good mixture for taking pics!!

This year I finally broke down and started a wishlist online. I thought it would make it easier for my family and friends to know what I would like for Christmas, etc. I was pleasantly surprised when several of the gifts that I received were from my wishlist.

I didn’t ask for any cross-stitch patterns this year as my favorite designer Anagram Diffusion is hard to find online within a reasonable price. My mother, however, gave me a gift certificate to my LNS. I can’t wait to go by the store and browse around!! I haven’t quite decided whether I want to buy some specialty threads or look for some new charts O_o”

The best part of this Christmas was our cousin’s gift to all of us. We were presented with several tins which contained sugar cookies decorated with icing and sprinkles, chocolate-covered pretzels and pretzel sticks, and shortbread cookies with date filling. The shortbread cookies were a lovely gift as they are from a recipe passed down from my grandfather’s mother to her daughter and then to us. The cookie isn’t sweet despite the powered sugar on top. It definitely reminds me of the European cookies that aren’t overly sweetened.

All in all, it was a great Christmas with our family! I hope you had a lovely holiday season too!!

Until next time!

Gathering of Friends

Hello, everyone! I hope you enjoyed the holiday season with your friends and family. On Sunday, I got the chance to hang out with my friends from our anime group. We exchanged presents. My usual gifts to my friends are a box of assorted Japanese candy, a cell phone charm, and the latest manga volume from whatever series they are currently reading.

One of my friends surprised me this year by stitching me a little bunny design as a Christmas present. She used a small photo frame to display it. When I got home, I immediately put it on one of the bookshelves in the living room. I have very few stitched items from my friends, as I know they are busy with other projects and life in general, so it always a joy to receive something they have made.

After exchanging gifts, we all decided to play HP Clue. This must be my third or fourth time playing the game and I still cannot seem to win. When someone declares the answers, I’m always wrong. LOL Sunday night, the answer was Dolores Umbridge, which I had marked off for some reason. Oh, well! ~

Along with all the Christmas presents, I bought a box of Japanese mochi for all of us to try. I happened to see it while I was at a local Asian market and thought it would be nice if we had it at the party since it was the last time we would meet before the New Year. Mochi is a rice paste that can be shaped into balls or cubes and usually stuffed with a variety of different fillings. It can be eaten throughout the year, but is traditional eaten during the Japanese New Year.

The box I picked up contained three different types of mochi. The plain white mochi was filled with an (sweet red bean paste ~yum~) and the light brown mochi was dusted with some sort of powder and filled with.…..oddly enough….peanut butter. The mochi rolled in sesame seeds was a mystery filling to us. It was a black filling and it had a sweet taste. The ingredients listed on the back of the package mentioned tapioca so maybe that’s the flavor.

Mochi - three flavored box

My friends actually liked the mochi with the an paste inside. They said it seemed to be sweeter than the an that is usually in red bean buns. I had them try the red bean buns the last time we met and they didn’t really like it, LOL so I ended up taking some home and eating them myself. ~ more for me, yummy

Ah, bean buns! It makes me miss the Minamoto Kitchoan, a Japanese confectionary shop in London, Piccadilly Circus. I came across the store when I searching for Asian markets/stores in the city. It was a bit out of the way for me to go, but always worth the trip.

Picture I took while in London ;) Yes, I'm a geek!

By the time I found this little jewel of a store, I was already half way through my school year. I tried the following sweets during my various stops by the store:

- Iwamura: plum jelly
- Kurihoka: bean jelly
- Jyukushi: persimmon jelly
- Sakura: cherry blossom jelly with a cherry inside
- Yuka: citron jelly
- Kurizutsumi: bean cake
- Oribenishiki: Japanese traditional Kurimanju, using chestnut and sweet red bean paste wrapped in Japanese cake.
- Hakuun-no-Hotori: Milky flavored white bean paste wrapped in Japanese cake.
- Fukuwatashi-Senbei: Japanese style vanilla cream filled cookie.
- Tenka taihei bean cake, which is shaped like a fish and contains sweet red bean paste and chestnuts.
- Yamatowakakusa bean cake: a mugwort flavored fluffy cake with sweet red bean paste and a soft rice cake inside it.
- Tsuya: Sweet red beans sandwiched between sweet mini pancakes.

There is something to be said about simplicity in Japanese sweets. You are never really overpowered by Japanese desserts compared to American ones. My all time favorites at the store beside the tsuya buns were the seasonal jellies. Every time I came to the store, there would be something different. My favorite was the sakura jelly that they sold during the spring.

Sadly, the Minamoto Kitchoan is only located in four cities in the world so the only time I’ll be able to go again is if I make a trip to NY or London. (sigh) So if you are in either area, stop by and enjoy some Japanese sweets! You won’t be disappointed ;)

~ Sorry for the mini-rant about Japanese sweets! It’s all the mochi’s fault leading my brain to think about Minamoto Kitchoan!! LOL ~

Until next time!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Emma – fin

When I realized that the final volume of Kaoru Mori’s series Emma was due out this month, my fingers skipped to the nearest online store and preordered it. My order came in the mail earlier this week and you know, I practically ripped open the package to get to this manga.

As you know from my previous posts that Ms. Mori’s story of a maid and gentleman, falling in love against the rules of British society during the Victorian period, is by far one of my favorite series. The final volume of Emma finds us at the start of the Edwardian era as Queen Victoria has passed away. By this time, society has changed not only in terms of technology and innovation, but also in class distinctions. The first chapter of the book features a small vignette of William and Emma’s lives before their marriage with the young couple riding bicycles throughout the countryside. Emma is residing at the home of William’s mother before their wedding takes place.

Other short stories are included in this volume that focus on previous characters in the main arc of the Emma story. The years have passed and we see William’s siblings in different roles. Arthur has been accepted to Eton College where he is a prefect with ambitions to study law. Grace has recently gotten married and has a new baby boy. Vivian is trying to outgrown her tomboyish-ness and admires Mrs. Meredith, Emma’s former employer, because she is beautiful. Colin is still the shy and extremely kind to others.

We are also given a glimpse at Elinor, William’s former fiancée, who is residing at a resort in Brighton where she has befriended a young man named Ernest. We see the young couple realize their feelings for one another after the brief time they have spent together. I was glad to see that Ms. Mori had included Elinor’s continuing story in this volume, as she was a lovely character who deserved a happy ending.

The final chapter is, of course, Emma and William’s wedding at his family’s chapel on their estate. Ms. Mori’s illustration of their wedding is gorgeous and I absolutely loved the fact that Emma took Mrs. Stowner’s last name when signing the wedding registry.

Arigatou gozaimasu, Ms. Mori! Your story was absolute magic, I loved every moment of Emma.


After reading so many posts about the authoress Georgette Heyer, I thought I should give one of her books a read. I was my local bookstore several months ago when I came across a promising title of Heyer’s called Arabella. This title was originally published in 1949 and recently reissued this year.

I chose the book not so much for the synopsis on the back cover, but a reader’s comment underneath that said that it was a Cinderella-type of Regency novel. One of my favorite types of books are modern retellings of fairytales so I picked up Arabella out of the other half a dozen Heyer titles on the shelves.

The story begins with a young girl named Arabella Tallent, one of the several daughters of a local parson. With so many daughters, marrying off each one is a daunting task when they come of age so Arabella’s mother seeks the help of her best friend, Lady Bridlington, Arabella’s godmother and namesake.

Lady Bridlington heartily agrees to provide Arabella with a London season in hopes of securing a husband. And so Arabella is bedecked with the finest dresses that can be made up by the town’s local seamstress and embarks on her journey to London, accompanied by her governess Miss Blackburn.

Unfortunately, Arabella’s coach breaks down along the way and she and her governess are forced to take shelter from the rain in a nearby house while the coach is being repaired. Neither woman realizes that they have entered the house of an extremely wealthy man named Mr. Beaumaris, a confirmed bachelor. Arabella and Miss Blackburn are introduced to Mr. Beaumaris and his friend Lord Fleetwood before being escorted upstairs to change into drier clothes.

Coming downstairs at the request of a servant, Arabella overhears Mr. Beaumaris comment to his friend that the broken carriage was an elaborate hoax invented by her in order to ‘lure’ him into matrimony and gain his fortune. Assuming that she will never met either individual again, the rebellious-natured Arabella decides to play a trick and tells them of her ‘unfortunate’ story of being sought after for her fortune. She begs them not to reveal her circumstances to anyone as she is going to London to relax and escape from the demands of society.

Arabella and Miss Blackburn leave for London with the assurances of Mr. Beaumaris that her identity will not be revealed. Little does Arabella know that her ‘story’ becomes the latest gossip amongst the ton and that she is the most sought after young lady of the London season.

Mr. Beaumaris offers Arabella his attentions during the season as a courtesy to Lady Bridlington, not realizing that Arabella is slowing turning him away from his bachelor ways with her unspoiled attitude and the later introductions of a stray puppy and an urchin boy.

By the end of the story, Mr. Beaumaris who has known from the beginning that Arabella’s story was false, admits his love for Arabella and asks for her hand. Arabella has fallen in love with him as well, but doesn’t know how he will response when he finds out that she has no fortune at all. Needless to say, everything turns out well in the end and Arabella and Mr. Beaumaris are married.

After reading one of Heyer’s novels, I must say that I’m on the fence about her writing. Periodically throughout the novel, I was strongly reminded of Jane Austen with certain elements of the story. And while I can appreciate Mrs. Heyer’s extensive research into the Regency period, the use of historic ‘slang’ and terminology on practically every page was a bit of a distraction.

At the moment, I am not sure if I will ever pick another novel of Heyer’s unless someone can swear to me that I will not be reminded of Jane Austen or bombarded by Regency slang at every turn.

Does anyone know if her other non-Regency novels are any good? I’ve heard that she has several novels that deal with early English history and the sixteenth-seventeenth centuries in France.

Until next time ^_____^

Saturday, December 12, 2009


As promised I made the BRD patterns into pinkeeps today after I was finished with wrapping my friends' Christmas gifts. The background is our living room mantle place with garland and our stocking holders ;)

A Star on Top

Red Birds for Peace

Backing fabric for both pinkeeps

These pinkeeps took me a while to finish as I was having trouble putting the green pearlized pins through the sides because of the underlying glue! I need to learn how to finish pinkeeps by stitching the sides together....that would definitely alleviate the problem!

Until next time ^____^

Friends and the holidays

I finished up my shopping for friends today. I had a few things to get and when I got home, I boxed up my purchases.

These gifts are for members of our anime group. I can't wait to exchange gifts this year. It was fun last year hanging out, exchanging gifts, and watching anime.

Until next time ^____^

Thought that counts....

Friday, December 11, 2009

4 Saisons update

Design: 4 Saisons by Anagram Diffusions
Thread: DMC 498 & B5200
Fabric: 32ct olive green Belfast linen

The last time I mentioned this design, I had hoped to finish the first block. Unfortunately, I never got around to it with work and other designs that came along. I'm back to stitching on the first block now. I've started the little white bunny on the lower right. Hopefully, I'll be able to finish this block by the end of next week if I'm diligent about my stitching ;)

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Until next time ^____^

Last design for December

Hello, everyone! I finished up my last Christmas-themed design for the year today. I won't be stitching anymore winter designs until next year. I really want to focus on my WIP, 4 Saisons by Anagram Diffusion until the end of the year.

Designer: Red Birds for Peace freebie by Blue Ribbon Designs
Threads: DMC
Fabric: 28ct evenweave antique white by M.C.G. Textiles
Start/Finish: 12/6-11/2009

I hope to finish this design along with A Star on Top as pinkeeps this weekend. I think I have the necessary backing fabric and other notions in my stash.

(sigh) I also have some last minute Christmas shopping to do for two friends of mine this weekend and then I'll be finished with all of it.

Until next time ^____^

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Star on Top

Designer: A Star on Top freebie by Blue Ribbon Designs
Threads: DMC
Fabric: 28ct evenweave antique white by M.C.G. Textiles
Finish: 12-4-2009

I had the chance to stitch this design today since I took the day off. What do you think? I love Blue Ribbon Designs; very simple, but lovely at the same time.

Until next time ^___^

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Bonne année - snowdrops

Designer: Bonne année by De Fil en Aiguille
Threads: DMC
Fabric: 28ct evenweave antique white by M.C.G. Textiles
Finish: 12-3-2009

I apologize for the lack of stitching lately. I've been sidetracked by the Thanksgiving holidays, Korean dramas, Charles Dickens, and Christmas shopping! I promise to get back to more stitching soon. I hope to stop by Hobby Lobby this weekend and pick up some threads for new designs that I would like to start stitching for the Christmas holidays.

Those designs will be finished as smalls. They will be the last Christmas designs that I will stitch up this year. I really want to get back to my WIP, 4 Saisons, which I have neglected for quite some time now. I never got around to finishing the first block!

The other designs that I have stitched up previously for the holidays will stay in my box of finished projects. I don't intend on 'finishing' them into smalls or ornaments until next year when I'm not a rush for time.

Tomorrow I will probably go through my patterns box. I plan on giving a friend of mine some of the patterns/kits that I have already stitched as she thought alot of the designs were cute.

Until next time!

Masterpiece Theater 2009-2010

The schedule for Masterpiece Classic is out! My mother and I have been waiting for the sequel to Cranford when we heard of it during the summer. We are Jane Austen fans so we can't wait to see the new adaptation of Emma too ^__^

I hope you are as excited as I am to see these new adaptations along with the other films featured in this season of Masterpiece Classics.

Until next time!