Archive for May, 2011

31st May
2011
written by Steph
While it's no longer really knitwear season here in Nashville (yesterday was a SCORCHER), I can't help but continue obsessively creating things. I've finally graduated from hats and scarves and mitts to non-accessory items of clothing... Here's picture proof of my achievement, in the form of my very first handmade cardigan!

I used the Miette pattern designed by Andi Satterlund, which was a breeze to knit (although I admit that the concept of negative ease did my head in at first so I actually knit this sweater twice... once in a size L, which was ginormous on me, and then again in a size M, which fits much better as you can see)! As a first sweater project, this was ideal because it's knit all in one piece, so there's no seaming required and you can try it on as you go.

I love the retro feel of this cardigan, and I decided to add to its personality by sewing on bright green buttons. You may be surprised to learn this, but I actually had to follow instructions on how to sew on these buttons as I've never sewn on a button in my life! But with this newly acquired skill, I am clearly well on my way to becoming the ultimate domestic goddess, no?

Being a rather busty lady, I don't have many button-up articles of clothing that I actually can button-up comfortably, but one of the joys of custom-making one's own clothing is the ability to make sure it fits! Of course, the cardigan is still really cute when unbuttoned, and I look forward to pairing it with many an ensemble!

26th May
2011
written by Steph

Many moons ago, I wrote something that prompted myriads of book bloggers to recommend that I read Notes on a Scandal by Zöe Heller. It may have been when I wrote my review of her most recent novel, The Believers, but I think the recommendations stemmed from even earlier. What’s really important here, however, is that tons of people told me that I should read this book because it was awesome and I would love it, and after I read and enjoyed The Believers, I completely believed that was the truth. If you were one of those people who told me to read this book, then consider this a big thank-you because you were indeed right. I have now read Notes on a Scandal and it was everything I hoped it would be (and more!). From the very beginning, NoaS starts of with a bang. Through the diary of Barbara Covett, an elderly teacher at a local comprehensive school, we learn that her colleague and good friend Sheba has been charged with having a sexual affair with one of her students, a 15-year-old boy named Steven Connolly. Barbara shares with us how her relationship with Sheba evolved as well as how she gained knowledge of the affair and how she and Sheba have been dealing with the fallout following its revelation. The topic of a teacher-student relationship is salacious enough that many readers would probably be drawn to the novel for that reason alone, but for those who find such subject matter distasteful or vulgar, I must assure you that there are plenty of other wonderful reasons to read this book. (more…)
18th May
2011
written by Steph

Get lost and stay lost!

Like many people out there, Tony and I love to travel. I am always a little bit suspicious of people who claim to have no interest in visiting or seeing new places or ever leaving the country. I truly believe that travel expands the mind and provides a perspective that books and other media simply cannot offer. For my money, there are few things I can imagine that are a better investment than travel. In fact, for the past few years Tony and I have been saving up our pennies to take the ultimate adventure once I finish graduate school: a round-the-world trip that will last somewhere from 12 – 18 months. Of course, because I'm a planner, I’ve spent tons of time researching countries and coming up with a rough travel plan. We’ve spent countless hours watching shows like Departures and No Reservations, trying to decide which parts of the globe we need to see firsthand. It’s nice to see the vitality captured through film and television, but of course I’ve spent a lot of time reading travel books and have been really interested in bulking up on my travel memoir reading as well. So when I saw that The Lost Girls was being offered on TLC Tours, I asked Trish if I could get my hands on the copy since it sounded like a book that would be great inspiration for my own. (more…)
16th May
2011
written by Steph

It is official: I have a new girl crush. Most of the objects of my Sapphic affection tend to be these really brilliant brainy ladies (who have kick-ass senses of humor), so it should come as no surprise that I am now inducting Scarlett Thomas into my club of “Women I Would Go Gay For”. She is just so very smart! What can I say? Most men tend to appreciate either boobs or legs, but me, I’m all about your cerebral cortex. I read my first Scarlett Thomas book, Our Tragic Universe, last year, and found it immensely provocative. I didn’t think it was a perfect novel, but so few are, and I found the ideas that Thomas explored there so irresistible and vital that I knew I would need to read more things by her. Since her books are thinking novels, I found that my appreciation for OTU grew as my distance to it increased; I found I couldn’t stop thinking about the quandaries Thomas had posed and I had increasingly strong desires to reread it. So when I saw a copy of The End of Mr. Y on my friend Trisha’s bookshelf, I immediately asked to borrow it so I could continue my exploration of Thomas’s oeuvre and all the wacky ideas she poses. (more…)
13th May
2011
written by Steph
Yesterday, I stumbled across this hilarious post over at Vol 1. Brooklyn, which analyzes what your book bag says about you. For those interested, my preferred book bag is a Strand book tote... In my defense, it's not the same model as the standard beige bag/red logo version as showcased on Vol 1. Brooklyn, but I doubt that matters. *Gulp* Also, it doesn't mean I didn't get a good chuckle from the list! Have a happy Friday and enjoy!
12th May
2011
written by Steph

It seems like I spend all my time on this blog apologizing these days! Prolonged absences punctuated by a post promising that I am back for good (à la Take That circa 1995), only to disappear into the real world for another extended period. This time, real life whisked me away to a six-day conference in Naples, Fl where I sometimes hobnobbed with vision scientists from around the globe, but mostly spent the time lizardlike, lazing by the pool and taking the occasional dip in the ocean. I brought four books and managed to finish one, but I never seem to get as much reading done at these things as I think I will. Probably because of all that quality programming on HGTV and Animal Planet that I am otherwise deprived of when at home!

So I am back now just as many of you are planning to fly away to BEA and take your own little blogging breaks, which is amazing timing, no? Well, there’s nothing to be done about that, so as I scramble about and try to get my life in Nashville back in order, I present to you my latest acquisitions from a mini-splurge at McKay’s a few weeks back when dissertation proposal stress was making my brain bleed. Because in the end, is there anything more soothing than new books? Get the complete low-down on my haul after the jump! (more…)
5th May
2011
written by Steph

We all know that I am a Jasper Fforde ffan girl, so I’ll never really have anything bad to say about any of his books. That said, I think it is fair to say that book five in his Thursday Next series, First Among Sequels, was perhaps not my favorite of the batch thus far. And that is, of course, putting it mildly. Of course, a weak Thursday Next book is still better than 95% of most books out there (and funnier to boot), so I don’t want to get all “damning with faint praise”… but really this book was quite a let down for me. I read it nearly two months ago (*gulp*… I am REALLY behind on my book reviews…), and to be honest, I don’t really remember much about it anymore. I know that it involves the fictional version of Thursday going rogue, and her son Friday having a debacle with the pesky ChronoGuard, but that’s about all I’ve got. (more…)
3rd May
2011
written by Steph

Sorry for the recent spate of blog neglect, faithful readers. Real life has been rather hectic as I spent much of April preparing to present a proposal for a series of studies I intend to carry out in pursuit of my doctoral degree to my committee, a task I completed (successfully!) yesterday. It turns out that graduate school is a rather time-consuming and mentally exhausting endeavor at time, so I apologize for using my spare time for little more than movie watching and video game playing. Now that writing a 60 page document is out of the way, I hope that I'll find the vim and vigor to resume my duties here at S&TI! To kick things off this month, I reviewed Siri Hustvedt's newest novel, The Summer Without Men, over at BookPage. This was my first Hustvedt novel, but I can assure you, it shan't be my last. I was blown away by the intellectual depth that is present in her writing, and I loved the complex female dynamics and innerworkings that she explored in this novel. I tore through it due to my looming review deadline, but truly this is a book meant to be read slowly and thought about deeply. I will very much need to read it again, in part because Hustvedt's prose is so deceptively simple that it's all too easy to chug it down when you really should be sipping. If you're at all interested in fiction that features women so real it's like looking in a mirror, then get yourself a copy of this book posthaste! For more details, you can read my full review here.