Exploring Ployvore

Exploring Polyvore for the first time

I’ve been out of the blogging game for a while. The last time I blogged regularly was before Pinterest hit the scene, and coming back to this world has admittedly been a big adjustment… the game has changed significantly since. There are so many new tools available, so many “collection” websites that bloggers can use to curate their favorite things. And as it seems from Pinterest, one of the most popular ways to do that now is through Polyvore.com.

I’ve been playing around with it for the last few days, and to be honest it’s kind of overwhelming. It’s like that feeling I get when I stand in front of my closet in the morning trying desperately to decide what to wear as the clock ticks ever closer to me being late for work… only multiplied by the entire internet. However, I’m starting to see what a handy tool it might be in the future, so I’m persevering. In the process of browsing I’ve also learned a few things about myself and my own style:

  1. When let loose with no price limitations, my taste is apparently super expensive.
  2. I’m really into Peter Pan collars, polka dots, and stripes right now.
  3. American Eagle has really upped their game since I was in high school, and I actually like a lot of their stuff now – more than my HS self would ever care to admit.
  4. I like more things from Delia’s than any professional 26-year-old really should… although I recognize that they probably look 1000 times better online than they would in real life.
  5. Even online, a nice looking violet cardigan is nearly impossible to find.
  6. Mod Cloth has some really amazing dresses, and luckily, they all seem fairly possible to make myself by adjusting dress patterns I already have and picking the right fabric… as long as I figure out how to size my dress form.
  7. Try as I might, I just really can’t get into jewelry beyond earrings. Necklaces and bracelets just don’t do it for me. I can do pearls, but that’s about it.
  8. and finally, I’m definitely not cut out for fashion blogging… (not that I ever thought I was anyway, but it’s nice to have confirmation).

Any of you on Polyvore? If so, follow me, and I’ll follow you back! I’ll be playing with it a lot over the next few days!

Quick NYC Trip

The Met full with fountain

Last week we made a quick day trip up to NYC for a very special occasion: My brother’s senior recital! After 4 long years of toil at the Julliard School, he’s gearing up to graduate, and I couldn’t be more proud of him. The final hurdle (besides finishing spring semester) for a music student is always the senior recital: you put on an entire hour-long concert yourself, and graduation hangs on it going well. Like a giant, public jury. It’s a pretty harrowing experience, even if you’re used to performing.

The Met Opera

Well, true to form, he did brilliantly. I couldn’t have been prouder of him. He is the most talented person I know, and seeing that talent displayed the way it was is enough to make a sister burst with pride. His playing was amazing (as always) and even more astounding were the pieces he wrote specifically for the recital. They were just wonderful.

Family in front of Fountain

Overall, it wasn’t a very eventful day, we basically drove up, showed our two grandmothers the school (with both at 80+ and one with a bad knee, they’re a little slow on their feet anymore, so this took us a while. But it was really sweet watching them see his school for the first time), grabbed some dinner, and then hit the highlight: the recital.

Julliard

But, my Aunt and I, annoying as ever with our cameras, did grab some photos at Lincoln Center, and a few in the school itself before we left, which is what I have to share here. The recital itself was kind of a whirlwind, and I was so busy listening that the camera sat in my purse… and stayed there basically until we were rushing to meet our hired van afterwards. Luckily my Aunt was on duty with her point-and-shoot for us to get a few family photos afterwards, so I will have those for my scrapbooks, but none for here!

Recital Hall

Gave the 30 Minute Scarf a Try

Arm knitting in progress

As I said in my post about my big squishy chunky scarf, over New Years I was introduced to the concept of arm knitting by one of my good friends. She quick showed me on her own project, and then showed me a YouTube video illustrating how. Naturally, after we went to go grab some yarn for me, I decided to do something entirely different, and by the time she left I had lost the link to the video she showed me.

But not too long after I finished the first big chunky scarf, I got the itch for another, and this time I decided to try the arm knitting in earnest (I still hadn’t solved the stiff cord problem with my big needles, so no-needle knitting was looking mighty appealing). Though I no longer had the original link I was given, all it took was some quick google work for a tutorial video, and I was off.

Close up arm knitting

The 30 minute scarf actually ended up being more like a 60 minute scarf – I had some confusion at the beginning in terms of casting on: I couldn’t really figure out how to translate long tail cast on to arm knitting, and the video I originally brought up wasn’t very clear. So back to YouTube I went, and I ended up settling on this video from Michael’s Stores:

Its quick, wordless, and very clear particularly for those of us who already understand the basics of knitting. Once I figured out the cast on from this video it was smooth sailing, and just like that I had another big squishy bulky scarf! Since then I have managed to find the original video my friend showed me, which is apparently super popular (it’s all over pinterest and has even been featured in the Wall Street Journal). I must not have looked too hard the first time. I also share a name with the blogger who made it, so I’m not sure why I didn’t remember… blame the New Year’s Champagne I guess. Here’s that video:

Overall I’m pleased with the outcome. The whole arm knitting thing was a little hard on my wrists, but I have wrist problems that your average person isn’t going to deal with thanks to my years and years of cello playing with teeny tiny hands. The scarf itself is warm, totally wearable, and above all, pretty cute! Here’s a picture I snapped quick on my way out the door the other day.

Finished Product

What do you think? Have you tried this whole arm knitting thing?

Breaking out the Pysanky Stuff

Set up
With Christmas and New Years over, we have settled into the bleak, grey, and multicolor lightless bit of winter here in the northeast. It’s been cold (like, below zero windchill and sometimes the temp itself cold), and dark, and honestly it can get depressing without the distraction of the Christmas lights. So to keep some color in my life for the next few months, I’m skipping ahead to the next holiday a bit early, and starting on my pysanky already.

What are pysanky? They’re Ukrainian Easter Eggs, made using a resist-dye method that’s similar to batik, and they look something like this:
Last year's eggs details

These are some of my eggs from last year. None of them are terribly traditional, nor did I do enough before life hit the fan last year for my lines and shapes to even out and get terribly precise, so I guess these aren’t the greatest examples. But, once my grandmother – a 70+ year pysanky veteran (family lore says that her eggs were even on display in the Smithsonian as the example of the craft for a while back when my mom was a teen… can’t seem to get outright confirmation from her on this, but she’s never been one to toot her own horn) – starts hers, I’ll be able to show you true traditional pysanky.

Any fellow Ukrainians out there still practicing this craft? Do you have any traditional crafts yourself?

(full photo disclosure: the top egg in the middle row was actually made by the boyfriend… his second pysanky ever!)

World War I Diaries

Operation War Diary Screenshot

So, since the centennial of the start of World War I is this year, the Imperial War Museum and the British National Archives have joined together in a massive project to digitize what will eventually be 1.5 million pages of WWI Diaries to make available to the public. Naturally, this is a MASSIVE task, and so they’re doing something really interesting (and awesome if you’re a history nerd like me) by using crowd sourcing to help classify and tag them all.

I’m all about historical outreach, and first person account and war diaries are kind of my thing, so I sure know where my weekend is going… let’s not talk about the fact I should be doing my own work! Even if you’re not a history lover, take a look, and maybe take some time and help out with the project… these things are really amazingly interesting, and who knows? Maybe you’ll find some relatives in there.

Any of you history people? WWI buffs? What do you think of the project?

(screenshot directly from the Operation War Diary Website and is linked to it.)

A Little Late to the Party…

500px-The_Office_US_logo

So, I just started watching The Office. Yea, yea, I know… a little late on the uptake there, particularly considering I’m NEPA born and raised. I had tried to watch it when the series first debuted back in 2005, and it just didn’t click with me then. Maybe as a newly minted college freshman I was just sick of the “OMG The Office! Is Scranton really like that?” responses when I told people where I grew up. Maybe I just didn’t give it enough of a chance – the few episodes I tried were all very early first season, and I remember being a little annoyed at how heavily they mimicked the british episodes at times.

Well whatever it was doesn’t matter because I finally gave it another chance the other day while I was knitting my mum’s birthday present and can I just say… OMG. I’m in love. Mainly with the Pam/Jim storyline. I also love Stanley, but holy shamoley, Pam and Jim.

I just finished season two now, and I can’t even tell you how glad I am that I didn’t hop on the boat while it was on TV… because now? I don’t have to wait months for season three! Gotta love Netflix.

Dunder_Mifflin,_Inc

Any of you fans of The Office? What about other series you fell in love with after they’ve left the air?

– Magpie

The Good Things Jar

Good things Jar

I saw a pin on pinterest the other day with a brilliant idea. I don’t have a link to the pin here, because I can’t seem to find the original source of the pin – all the pins simply take me to the image or a pic dump on some buzzfeed-type site (So if anyone knows the originating source, please let me know so I can give credit where credit is due). The idea goes something like this (direct quote from the pin): “Every January start filling an empty jar with notes about good things that happen. Then on New Years Eve, almost 12 months later, empty the jar and see all the incredible things that happened over the course of the year.”

This fits in so perfectly with my new years resolution to start savoring the small things in an effort to regain some positivity that I just couldn’t pass it by. So I grabbed a mason jar, decorated it with some washi tape, and with that I present to you: The Good Things Jar.

Throughout this year, I’ll be making note of all the happy little things (and the big things!) that happen on scraps of paper, folding them up, and putting them in this jar to wait for 2015 to come around. Hopefully, this will not only help me be mindful of the positive on a daily basis, but will provide a cute and happy treat for the first couple days of 2015 as I read through them.

I must say, so far, so good. As you can see I’ve got a few slips in there already, and I can notice myself making mental notes of the happy little experiences in the everyday more. Are any of you doing this good things jar thing? If so, have you noticed it making a difference in your overall mentality?