Online Finds: Rainbow Ribbon Wreath and Backdrop

Arts & Crafts, Colors

Isn’t this rainbow ribbon wreath pretty? It would make a great addition to a party to celebrate the LGBT History Month or any occasion where bright colors are welcome.

CatchMyParty Amy C Rainbow Wreath1

Amy C at CatchMyParty

It’s by Amy C at CatchMyParty. Making one is easy, too; it only takes a wire coat hanger turned into a wreath form (or a ready-made form), plenty of ribbons, scissors and tin snips plus some crafting time.

If the latter is a problem, you might consider an easy ribbon backdrop instead:

CatchMyParty Amy C Rainbow Backdrop

Amy C at CatchMyParty

The backdrop takes just long lenghts of ribbon (this one has two per color) tied onto a pole or a curtain rod and hung up, so it’s much faster to make.

Visit the full wreath tutorial by Amy C at CatchMyParty.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Past Weekend’s Theme Song: Ode to Joy by Beaker

Behind the Scenes, Stunt Double

The past weekend wasn’t the best for me. In fact, it was a bit like the Muppets version of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” performed by Beaker:

Ode To Joy | Muppet Music Video | The Muppets on YouTube

Just to give one example, on Sunday (my dedicated social media day), my brain refused to brain blog work. Tumblr I was able to do, but blogging was like drinking tar. (Something being like drinking tar is an expression from my native Finnish.)

Ohwell. At least the funny Muppet video made me smile – and, after all, I got a blog post out of it, too. 🙂

P.S. Happy Lunar New Year!

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Finnish Prune Pinwheel Tartlets for Christmas

Food & Drink

I’ve talked about Finnish foods a bit before, for instance sour cream pie, liver sausage and blueberry soup. I don’t think I’ve done more than mention the joulutorttu, though, the baked Christmas dessert filled with plum jam.

Joulutorttu

Back in the day when you had to make the puff pastry from scratch they must’ve taken a good while to produce. These days, with store-bought puff pastry, they really are a cinch to make:

  • cut thawed puff pastry sheets into 9 evenly-sized squares
  • separately for each square, cut every corner in half as if you’re cutting a line diagonally from each corner to the center BUT leave about 1” in the center intact
  • fill centers with about a teaspoon of plum jam
  • make a pinwheel shapes by bringing every other half-corner together in the center
  • if desired, brush beaten egg on exposed puff pastry surfaces
  • bake about 10 minutes in a preheated oven (400 degrees F / 200 C or according to package) or until golden brown
  • let cool and dust with confectioners sugar

(These instructions fit U.S pastry sheets and measurements.)

Since I haven’t found plum jam in stores here, I’ve developed a super-duper easy way: I soak prunes in hot water until soft (approx. as long as the pastry takes to thaw) and use them to fill the tartlet, one prune per square. I also use toothpicks to skewer through both the pinwheel corners and prune in the center so that the tartlet won’t open while baking (the tips will burn easily if they do). And since I’m not terribly fond of confectioners sugar, I usually skip it.

While flipping through a back issue of Country Living magazine, I spotted the very same pastries except with a summery filling: jam and cream cheese.

Country Living 7-8-2016 Jam Pinwheels

Country Living July/August 2016, p. 20.

Country Living magazine gives credit for these jam and cream cheese versions to Kayley McCabe; visit the post at Handmade Charlotte for her writeup and tips.

They sound absolutely delicious – I’ll have to try some time!

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

 

Online Finds: Colorful Blank Calendar for 2019

Arts & Crafts, Bits in Spaaace!, Colors

Time to find a monthly calendar for next year.

Printable Blank Calendar for 2019

This colorful calendar is by Lena at What Mommy Does. She designed it to be all blank on purpose; this way it’s useable every year.

Thanks for sharing, Lena!

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Now on Etsy: Canvas Pouches

Ahem Ahem!, Arts & Crafts

I listed a few canvas pouches at the Playfully Grownup Home Etsy shop.

Canvas Pouches Collage

They’re made from a variety of prints and solids. I used up remnant canvas pieces to make them.

The light green one has a really great, understated but elegant floral pattern outlined in white. I added a coordinating green and white polka dot accent for the drawstring channel.

Canvas Pouch Green White Floral BB001a

For the blue and turquoise floral, I found two good accent color matches but couldn’t decide which I preferred, so I made two versions. Problem solved! 🙂 One has a turquoise-on-turquoise polka dot print…

Canvas Pouch Blues Turquoise BB002c

…and the second a solid bright blue cotton. The latter makes a nice, strong contrast.

Canvas Pouch Blues BB002a

Both colorways have a round bottom made from solid-colored canvas – pale mustard for the green and navy blue for the blue and turquoise bags.

Find them in the Playfully Grownup Home > Carry Me section. And as always, if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask!

Online Finds: Colorful Calendar for 2018

Arts & Crafts, Bits in Spaaace!, Colors

Time to find a monthly calendar for next year.

Printable Calendar for 2018

This floral calendar is by Ananda at A Piece of Rainbow. Each month has a different bouquet with a bit of space for notes. I think December is already my favorite. Very beautiful!

Thanks for sharing, Ananda!

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Discoveries: Geeky Rendering on Blue & White China

Design & Designers, Stunt Double

The Things Could Be Worse mugs by Calamityware are an interesting take on traditional blue and white ceramics:

Calamityware Mugs Things Could Be Worse

Things Could Be Worse mugs by Calamityware.

Robots, pterodactyls, giant animals and hairy humanoids aplenty. LOL! 🙂

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

2017 Jane Austen Rewatch: Persuasion

Books & Mags, Movies & TV

The last but certainly not least in our Jane Austen rewatch, Persuasion is a novel of pressures, choices and second chances, posthumously published in 1817. The heroine, 27-year-old Anne Elliot, has never come to terms with her refusal to marry the great love of her life due to the prudent advice of a friend in loco parentis. The he returns to the neighborhood 8 years later…

Jane Austen Rewatch Persuasion

JASNA provides a map for tracking the physical locations of the story:

JASNA Persuasion Locations map-pers-1200

Map of locations in Persuasion. Jane Austen Society of Australia, via JASNA.

Like Mansfield Park, there aren’t terribly many screen versions of Persuasion. We rewatched the 2007 and 1995 movies, although apparently also a miniseries from 1971 is available.

The newer movie (from 2007, screenplay by Simon Burke, directed by Adrian Shergold) stars new-to-me Sally Hawkins as Anne Elliot. Rupert Penry-Jones, whom I know from the British spy series MI-5, plays Captain Wentworth. Unfortunately, I find both performances listless and unenergetic, even though the script – bafflingly – has Anne indefatigably running all over the city of Bath after Captain Wentworth at the end of the movie.

Minor performances, for example by Anthony Head (Giles! from Buffy!) as Sir Walter Elliot, are ok. There are some other oddities in the writing, filming and music which diminish my enjoyment of the story, but it looks like they actually went to Bath, which is great.

The 1995 Persuasion, however, is excellent. The screenplay is by Nick Dear, and Roger Mitchell directed Amanda Root as Anne Elliot and Ciarán Hinds as Captain Wentworth. I really like Root’s understated and considerate version of Anne; Hinds works well enough even if a few scenes tend towards hammy.

Although the picture quality is grainy, the soundtrack is nice, and there are subtitles (not a given on older DVDs). The props, locations and costuming are also great. This is my favorite version so far – in an ideal world, of course, we would be due another adaptation.

Read more about this Jane Austen rewatch project.

2017 Jane Austen Rewatch: Emma

Books & Mags, Movies & TV

Emma (1815) was the fourth and last of Austen’s works to be published during her lifetime. In it we follow the titular character’s growth from a good-intentioned meddler-in-romance to a more mature and self-aware young lady.

Jane Austen Rewatch Emma

Here, again, is a map provided by JASNA for tracking the physical locations of the story:

JASNA Emma Locations map-emma-large

Map of locations in Emma. Jane Austen Society of Australia, via JASNA.

Our rewatch included three versions: two movies and a miniseries. I’ve since discovered that there’s a version transposed to India (Aisha, 2010), which sounds interesting. Clueless I’ve no interest in, and I’ll skip the 1972 miniseries, too.

Extraordinarily, the year 1996 saw two movie releases based on Emma. Both are solid adaptations with decent plot arcs, very good acting, and wonderful locations and sets.

The first is written and directed by Douglas McGrath and stars Gwyneth Paltrow as Emma Woodhouse and Jeremy Northam as Mr. Knightley. Occasionally Paltrow delivers some of her lines in an overly whiny manner, but fortunately those are rare. I haven’t seen Northam in anything else, but his Mr. Knightley was quite good – efficient and proper but not as acerbic as Mark Strong’s Mr. Knightley.

A very neat tidbit is to see young Obi-Wan Kenobi Ewan McGregor singing – he has a fabulous voice! One thing I cannot stand in the McGrath movie, though, is Paltrow’s changing hairstyles – it seems like the production might have employed two different hair designers, one of whom wasn’t up to the job.

My favorite, incredibly dry line delivery:

Mr. Knightley [to Emma when they’re practicing archery]: “Try not to shoot my dogs.”

The other 1996 Emma is written by Andrew Davies, directed by Diarmuid Lawrence and features Kate Beckinsale as Emma Woodhouse and Mark Strong as Mr. Knightley. Overall, I’d say the casting is stronger in this version. The otherwise excellent Olivia Williams (elsewhere e.g. in Dollhouse) is a little wooden as Jane Fairfax, but I love the rest of the cast. Bernard Hepton’s Mr. Woodhouse is such a darling!

My favorite speech comes when the self-important Mrs. Elton discusses foppish young men:

Mrs Elton Scourge of Puppies

Mrs. Elton: “Ah! But you must know I can be very severe upon young men. I have a vast dislike of puppies, quite a horror of them. Had he turned out to be a puppy I might have said some very cutting things, you may be sure. I am a scourge of puppies, am I not, Mr. E.?”

My absolute favorite, though, is the Emma miniseries from 2009 (adapted by Sandy Welch, directed by Jim O’Hanlon). The version has several strengths, starting with excellent casting. Romola Garai stars as Emma Woodhouse, and – yay, again a treat for me! – Jonny Lee Miller as Mr. Knightley. His is by far the most enjoyable Mr. Knightley performance I’ve seen. Mr. Knightley is often played as rather curt and strict, which I find not just offputting but a mistake. The interpretations of Harriet Smith by Louise Dylan and Miss Bates by Tamsin Greig are also the most enjoyable I’ve seen.

All major characters are introduced at the beginning of episode 1, which helps people new to Austen. Moreover, this version does the epilogue clearly and succinctly, without massive infodumping. In addition, I immensely enjoy the music, the set dressing, costuming and propping, and other visuals.

It’s a thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyable Emma. In fact, if the same team were to make other Austen adaptations, I’d go to great lenghts to see them. Finally, let’s face it: the longer form better fits the depth of Austen’s genius, and that’s that.

Enjoy this sneak peek from PBS:

MASTERPIECE Classic’s Emma begins Jan 24, 2010 | A Sneak Preview | PBS

Read more about this Jane Austen rewatch project.