Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Treats

Christmas this year was absolutely perfect.  It was relaxing, low key, and way more about giving than getting.  Even my dogs got into the spirit!  The day ended with an absolutely fantastic meal made by my hard working dad.

Hope your holiday was equally has fun and family-filled!  Any fun dishes that you tried?

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Night Before Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house,

...not a puppy was stirring while...

...cookies were baking...

...and decorations were aiding in the merry-making.

Wishing all of you a Merry Christmas and good wishes for the rest of the holiday season!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

I'll Be There For You

On this week before Christmas, I feel like my blog should be full of merriment, present and decorating ideas, and pictures of my holiday plans.  However, after the tragic massacre at Sandy Hook elementary school, I didn't feel like that was a meaningful enough use of my little piece of the Internet.

Still, I don't really know what to say.  To the families of the victims of this tragedy, I send my heartfelt wishes and prayers for the strength to get through this.  To the politicians across the country to actually do something about gun control and mental health care, I hope that you have the presence of mind to consider every side of the issue.  To the family of the gunman, Adam Lanza, I pray that you have the strength to not only take responsibility for his actions, but to weather the scorn and anger that it sure to come from many different corners.  And for all those grieving the loss of these beautiful, innocent children, just remember that you are not alone.

In the true spirit of the holiday season, we are all there for each other.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

2012 Reading Challenge

It's absolutely great to be home with my family, dogs, and back in my own bedroom overflowing with books.  I've recently joined the website GoodReads and, even though there are only a couple of weeks left in the year, have joined their 2012 Reading Challenge!

I picked a challenge of reading 50 books this year, thinking that between the two intensive literature courses I've taken the past few semesters, I would be fine.  Surprisingly, I'm not even close to 50 books, and so this really is a challenge!  How many books do you guys think I can read by December 31st?

2012 Reading Challenge

2012 Reading Challenge
Marisa has read 18 books toward her goal of 50 books.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wall Wednesday: Final Additions

Both the final exams and the semester are over, which means I'm heading home for my Christmas/winter break.  Actually, I'm currently sitting with my laptop in the airport, doing my best to be patient with their frustratingly slow Wireless Internet.  I'd still like to share a few of the final touches that I have added to the room over the past couple of weeks.  Other family members are going to stay there over Christmas, and I wanted to make sure it looked at least somewhat finished for them!

I've added to my collection of art postcards around the mirror door, after visting the Legion of Honor Thanksgiving weekend.  These are all pictures of pieces from the current show of a collection from the Louvre in Paris.  The dark one on top is a sort of decorative, mosaic card table, and this red one is of a gigantic tapestry.  For those of you still in the city with some time to kill, I would highly suggest checking out the exhibit; all of the pieces are absolutely stunning!

I made another one of this fun knit basket in a different color.  It's such an easy project, and knitting is a great way of combining relaxation and productivity for a little study break.

Lastly, I rearranged my closet decorations and decided to go with a solid wall of quotes.  As you can see, I haven't gotten there quite yet, but I still have all of next semester to read and decorate with more passages.

For now, I'm just excited to be going home to see my puppies!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Just Keep Swimming

Tomorrow is my last day of finals exams and papers and, true to my habit of procrastination, I'm working up until the very second! I've got a marvelous combination of Mighty Leaf Chamomile Citrus tea, my Enya Pandora station, and the promise of a KitKat bar keeping me going strong. It may sound strange, but it's worked so far...

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Holiday Listening

Christmas Favorites from littlespider on 8tracks Radio.

It's finally December! That means it's time to break out the Christmas music, which is by far my favorite part of the season. I don't have too many Christmas songs with me (most are at home on CDs), but I thought I'd collect the few favorites I do have into a playlist to share with you all.

I'm going to recommend getting comfortable with a blanket, a cup of tea, your favorite book or a holiday craft, and then listening. Trust me, the playlist will sound even better that way!

Stay warm and dry, everyone. Do you have any favorite Christmas songs?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Holiday Idea: Handmade Gifts

I love everything about this time of year: the turkey, mashed potatoes, hot tea, Christmas music, and present hunting.  Although the trend in scaling back gift giving is mainly due to the back economy, I love the idea of only giving gifts that are really thoughtful and heartfelt.  It encourages people to really think about what their loved ones would like, rather than just buying presents to just have presents.

As for me, I'm trying to do as many handmade gifts this year as possible.  Not only do they say "You're important enough to me that I took the time and effort to make you something," but this way you're giving them a something completely unique.  For example, I'm giving my grandma this knitted "Boneyard Shawl" for her birthday tomorrow.

I used a really beautiful, soft Alpaca yarn from Cascade Yarns, and the pattern I found on Ravelry.  It's such a nice wrap that I'm actually making a second one with the left over yarn, which I also used to make this little knit envelope for the card.

This pattern I came up with myself, and will definitely use again.  Even the card was handmade, using some patterned scrapbook paper and an index card.

See?  This way gift giving is not only creative and personal, but also a lot more fun than fighting over items at a mall.  So, do you have any ideas for handmade gifts this holiday season?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Finals season is upon us, and the last couple weeks have already been so busy that I'm having a heard time imagining it getting much worse.  To help de-stress (and get exercise at the same time!) I've taken up the habit of taking long walks around the neighborhood.  I live right by Mountain Lake Park, which backs up to the Presidio.  So just yesterday, I walked up to Inspiration Point to take in the view.

It was so gorgeous and clear up there that it put me in the perfect frame of mind for Thanksgiving.  It really got me thinking about what I'm grateful for.

For my friends, who accept me for all of my weirdness and keep me laughing and sane.  For my parents, who have always worked so hard to give me the best life possible.  For my brother Trevor, who is one of the best friends I could ever ask for.

For all of the amazing experiences and opportunities that I've had that are so easy to take for granted.

 And for this amazing and beautiful world that is so inspiring.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Tiny Documentary

It's been an incredibly wet weekend here in the city, and thus I've had no excuse to keep me from actually getting some work done.  That being said, surprising productivity during the day has given me plenty of time for a little relaxing at night.  Last night, I watched this very interesting documentary on tiny houses in the U.S. and around the world.  As a petite person myself (and veteran of two years of dorm living), I am fascinated by living in small spaces and cannot believe the ingenious things that some of the featured homeowners came up with to maximize coziness and efficiency!

Enjoy, and stay dry and warm everyone!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wall Wednesday: Seasonal Coin Purse

I meant to share this little creation last week, but it just slipped my mind.  So here it is, my little crochet pumpkin!  It was originally inspired by this lovely "candy pumpkin," but as I've said before, I really don't understand crochet at all, so I ended up fumbling around and making this one up on my own!  The top is attached with a little string, and I'm currently using it to hold all of my spare change.  I like the little festive, seasonal touch it adds to my work space.

Happy Wednesday, everyone.  Are there any seasonal decorations that you're working on?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Book Review: A Book of Common Prayer
A Book of Common Prayer
Joan Didion
272 pages

This is another one of the books I read for class and absolutely loved.  It is the story of a shallow, ignorant American woman Charlotte who takes up residence in the Latin American country Boca Grande to escape troubles from home.  What's really interesting is that the novel is narrated by another American woman who married into the ruling family of Boca Grande, and it is as much about her as about her observations of Charlotte.

Didion's prose is simple, understated, and easy to read.  As such, it stands to reason that everything she includes has some meaning.  She does not waste words on extensive or flowery descriptions, and yet you'll be amazed by how much meaning is buried inside her almost minimalistic writing.

What I found interesting about this book is that it really ends up being a sort of critique of the American way of life.  Didion makes it very clear that the American view of the world is very insulated, self-centered, and generally ignorant.  And, when discussing the novel with friends or even just thinking about it on my own, I was extremely surprised to find that this is entirely true.  And yet the novel explores more than just this one subject, but also gender roles, stereotypes and inequalities, and the idea that we are so obsessed with the faults of others that we are blind to our own.

So if you like reading works that will make you actually think about your life and the way you perceive the world, I would highly suggest taking the time to read A Book of Common Prayer.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Chill in the Air

The days are getting colder, and I'm finding it harder and harder to focus on school work.  All I really want to be doing is knitting and working on other Christmas gifts!

Happy weekend, everyone.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Fun Finds: Literary Love

It's been a busy couple of weeks, and I can't tell you how glad I am to be able to just relax a little this afternoon.  Which of course means that I'm doing a little online "window shopping."  I wasn't looking for items of a certain theme, and yet all of these items are distinctly literary.  I guess that means I'm studying the right subject!

1. Make Your Own USB Typewriter (Etsy) - I saw a short feature on this USB Typewriter, and immediately fell in love.  I have wanted a typewriter for as long as I can remember, but have never had cause to get one as they become more and more obsolete.  But this is pure brilliance, as it can be used with any computer or iPad.  Talk about up-cycling!

2. The Remains of the Day (Amazon) - Kazuo Ishiguro is one of my favorite authors, mainly because of the amazing lyrical quality of his writing.  I've read Never Let Me Go about four different times, and have had this next novel recommended to me on multiple occasions. Maybe, as my school work starts to wind down, I'll find time to actually fit it in!

3. A Writer's Ink (Threadless) - I used to submit t-shirt designs to Threadless, but I only learned that they also sell prints of their artist's work recently.  I love this piece because, well, what writer doesn't feel like their ink and writing brings something alive?

Saturday, October 27, 2012


Over the past week or so, I've come to realize that I am a very stressful person.  I like to hold onto things and obsess and generally drive myself a little crazy.  So this past week I decided to start making some positive changes to lessen my stress, such as doing deep breathing exercises, journaling daily, and just trying to maintain a more upbeat mood.

Today, I decided to try something a little different and came across this wonderful video.  Even if you're not into meditation (I certainly haven't ever been), I think you'll find this to be very helpful.  My entire body felt lighter and looser after just this eight minutes.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Back to Haight

When wondering what I was going to do with my afternoon, I realized that I hadn't been to Haight Street in a while.  So I took a walk in the sun, enjoying the always eclectic crowd as I headed to Mendel's Craft Store. I was completely surprised to find it jam packed with other college students, all buying some finishing touches for their Halloween costumes.

Now I know for sure that I'm not embarrassed to buy knitting supplies in front of other people my age!

 I managed to limit myself to only these two skeins of Lion's Pride Wool Ease Yarn, and I have big plans for them!  I bought this highly suggested Vogue Stichionary a couple of weeks ago, and I plan on going through it and knitting little squares of each and every stitch in the book.  I'm hoping that after I've finished going through the book, I can crochet the squares together in a sort of variation of the granny-square blanket.

I finished up my jont among the hippies and excited college students with a Chicken Pesto Panini at the little shop called Panini.  My friends and I discovered this place our freshman year and it was great to finally satisfy a serious craving.

My plans for this Halloween weekend?  Keeping happy and keeping busy - more specifically on a lit essay for next week.  Anyone doing anything more exciting?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wall Wednesday: For Giants Fans

It's really starting to feel like fall here in San Francisco.  We had our first few rainy days of the season, it's starting to cool down, the Giants are in the World Series... That's right, I'm actually watching now as I write this post!  In that spirit, I wanted to add some decorations to my room that reflected the season and what I love about it most: post-season baseball.

The first thing I added was a little Giants garland out of string and construction paper.  It was super easy (I did it while watching one of the NLCS games) and I love the way it adds a touch of black and orange without dominating the wall or making the room feel darker.

On my closet, I'm collecting pictures from the SF Chronicle of my favorite players and moments.  I'm sure it will only get bigger as the World Series plays out!

Finally, I completed my Giants scarf!  I started knitting it during the last week or so of the regular season while I watched the games, and just finished it during Game 6 of the NLCS.  And, because I'm a superstitious fan, I've been wearing it as much as possible.  Who knew that the free pattern that came with the yarn would be so cute?

Well, off to keep watching the game.  The Giants are already up 4 - 0!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Dew Tour San Francisco

After a cold and rainy Friday, today was an absolutely beautiful San Francisco Saturday.  But before I get into that, I want to talk about something that I don't particularly like to: feelings.

I've been feeling a little, well, off lately.  I'm having a hard time articulating what I'm feeling, but all I know is something's not quite the same with me.  Maybe I'm feeling a bit lame for not going abroad like all my friends this year, maybe I'm actually lonely without knowing it, maybe I'm just feeling a little pathetic that I never get around to doing as much as I would like to.  Whatever the reason, this morning was a hard one, even after talking with one of my best friends from Paris.  Luckily, my ever-patient mother was able to talk some sense into me after a long phone call.

She reminded me that while sitting around and moping is bad, getting out there and doing something is good.  It's always worked for me before, whether it was just going to the store for a quick errand or spending the day out and about.

So in this spirit, I headed to Civic Center Plaza to check out the 2012 Dew Tour.  For those of you who don't know what this is, well, the best way I can explain it is that it's a low-key extreme sports competition.  There's skateboarding, BMX, concerts, and lots of products and companies to check out.  I'd always managed to catch it on TV before, but decided to take the opportunity of actually being in the same city to go see it in person.  Unfortunately, I missed the skateboarding for the day (darn), but I got to catch the end of the BMX competition.

The free viewing definitely could have been set up better, but it was still pretty cool to get so close to the action.  And best of all, it cured my blues for the day.

For those of you living in or visiting San Fran, I would highly suggest checking the Dew Tour out.  Tomorrow's the last day!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Of Bug Bites and Bad Plays

Picture from The Reporter

Welcome to the start of another week!  I had a very fun and productive weekend, although I somehow managed to get five very itchy and very inconveniently placed bug bites.  As anyone who know me will tell you, no matter the bug, I always swell up the second I get bitten.  Unfortunately for me this time around, two of the bites are on the backside of my knee, and the swelling is not only extremely uncomfortable but makes it difficult to bend my leg.  If only I didn't attend a college with millions of stairs...

Actually, I really can't complain, as long as I have amazing baseball games like tonight's NLCS Game 2 to distract me.  It seems like most of the Giants are finally starting to find their rhythm and we won 7-1 over the Cardinals.  The only downside of the game was that Giants second baseman and top-hit producer Marco Scutaro had to exit the game after taking a harsh slide by Matt Holliday in the first inning.  And now to consider the question that has the media buzzing: Was Holliday's slide into second base a "dirty play"?

Keep in mind that I am merely a fan, and a fairly ignorant one at that.  I don't know much about the nitty-gritty rules of the game (although I bought a book for just this purpose), but I do know what I heard and what I saw.  I heard both Bruce Bochy and the commentators state that the rule was you had to start sliding before you hit the bag, i.e. you have to start sliding on dirty.  I saw Holliday suddenly go airborne right above second base and then smash into Scutaro in what was an obvious attempt at stopping a double play.  Was the play intended to be "dirty" or illegal?  Probably not.  Holliday himself insists that he was only trying to break up the double play, not injury Scutaro or take him out of the game.  So, yeah, while I think that it was a poorly executed slide and that I'm not eager to see a play like that again, I don't think it was intentional.

That is all.

Did any of you see the play?  Or better yet, anyone out there with more baseball knowledge than I do who would like to weigh in with your opinion?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wall Wednesday: Adding Some Color

My latest adventures in decorating have taken a little bit longer because, 1) I've been busy and 2) they've been slightly bigger projects.  I did this drawing over the long Columbus Day weekend.  I trekked up to the park to draw the beautifully cloudy and colorful sky.  The sky was done in pastels and the bottom with my favorite drawing tool, black Sharpie.  I like the contrast between the softness of the pastel and the sharpness of the marker.  This is now hanging on my wall by the same string and binder clips that I used before.

My other project over the last couple of weeks was this adorable, stretchy knit basket.  It's based loosely on this Pickles pattern.  I have to admit, I didn't really understand it and have never really knitted in the round before, so I modified it a bit to achieve the same basic look.  In case you're interested in making one yourself, I used Lamb's Pride Bulky yarn and:

1) Cast on 30
2) Garter stitch across until almost the end of your skein
3) Stich together with a tapestry needle as though you're making a flat pouch.

I love the basket because it was super easy and can be as big or little as you need it to be because it's so stretchy.  I have another skein of Lamb's Pride just waiting to be turned into another basket of another color.  I like mixing and matching with different bright colors to create a cozy spring feeling inside as the weather gradually gets colder.  Let me know if you try this out; I'd love to see any pictures!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Review Book: Invisible Man

Invisible Man
Ralph Ellison
581 pages

It's been a while since my last book review, and although I don't normally do books I've read for school, I think I'll make an exception for this one. I would highly suggest Invisible Man to those of you who are serious about reading and don't mind a bit of a challenge.  The prose itself is actually quite accessible; rather, the text is saturated with allusions and historical references that make reading it like digging through a treasure chest.  Finishing it is very satisfying.

That being said, I think that because of it's very complex nature, this book is best read in the context of a class or book club.  Not only will this help you get more out of the book, but the discussions that arise from reading certain passages are all but guaranteed to be interesting.  This novel is concerned with ideas of race, identity, and individuality vs. the community.  These all make great discussion points, even if you're just talking to one friend about it in a rather casual manner.

So, for a quick summary: Invisible Man is about a young African American man who is searching for himself.  We follow him through his memoir from his time at a black college in the south to his work as a young man for an American Communist group in Harlem, New York.  He faces many challenges along the way, not only from the white community, but from himself as well.

Too vague for you?  I guess you'll just have to read it!