"A commonplace book is what a provident poet cannot subsist without, for this proverbial reason, that “great wits have short memories:” and whereas, on the other hand, poets, being liars by profession, ought to have good memories; to reconcile these, a book of this sort, is in the nature of a supplemental memory, or a record of what occurs remarkable in every day’s reading or conversation." - Jonathan Swift, "A Letter of Advice to a Young Poet"

Sunday, October 28, 2012

October Things

N.B. Further inspired by Kristina Horner i.e. italktosnakes and her 'Things I'm Into' videos, I'm gonna try to categorize these monthly posts a little more and make them less random. If you haven't already, go check out her videos. Here's a link to the latest 'Things I'm Into.'


Since the weather keeps getting colder, baking has become a big thing in my house. I absolutely love cakes, muffins, cookies, tarts, pies, mousses, scones, biscuits, breads, and anything else you can think of that contains flour, eggs, butter, and sugar. But I also love the process of baking, the sense of accomplishment that comes from turning raw ingredients into a finished, delicious whole. It's especially lovely at this time of year because ingredients like apples and pears can be incorporated and the winter spices are coming into their prime - who doesn't love a splash of cinnamon, nutmeg, or clove? I'll try to report here if I try any particularly amazing recipes. For now, I'm planning what to bake for the Halloween party my housemates and I are throwing.


Again, the days are getting shorter and colder, so I've been hunting for some good ways to while away the long dark evenings. Since I spend all day reading, I'm less tempted by novels, although I've started reading some poetry and short stories for a change of pace in the evenings. But my favorite two evening activities these days are knitting and watching web series.

I just took up knitting, with the intention of making myself some warm accessories in time for winter, and I've found it to be the perfect accompaniment to watching movies and TV. Or, even better, a web series like The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, or the LBD. I just caught up on the first 50 or so episodes of this series, and I can highly recommend it to any fan of Jane Austen or to anyone who could sympathize with the struggles of a group of young women making the transition from school to life and juggling family, romance, sex, careers, friendships, and creative aspirations.

If you haven't heard of it, here's a brief run-down. It's basically the first ever adaptation of classic literature to a vlog format, and the creators happen to have chosen the wonderful Pride and Prejudice as their classic book. They've done an amazingly inventive job so far of updating the story to present-day USA and adjusting it to fit the format of short video blogs featuring Lizzie Bennet and her sisters and acquaintances.

But my favorite part about this show isn't the great comic timing and convincing acting from the four young women stars (Lizzie, Jane, Lydia, and Charlotte) or the way they take turns impersonating other characters, who never actually appear on screen but whom we see hilariously filtered through Lizzie's sarcastic gaze, in such a way that we see Lizzie's flaws at the same time as sympathizing with her trials. No, my favorite part is the way that the writers have updated the challenges facing young women in Austen's era to those facing young women today. These girls are not just about finding husbands (although Mrs. Bennet, predictably, is). They're also looking for jobs and outlets for their passions and artistic impulses. The best moment of the series so far (aside from some utterly hilarious Darcy impersonations by the various girls) was when the odious Mr. Collins, instead of proposing marriage, proposes a business partnership - an offer just as life-changing and difficult to manage as marriage would be for the original Elizabeth Bennet.

Actually, though, I have to revise this and say that all this comes second to the real best part of the series, which is that the 5th Bennet sister, Kitty, is reincarnated, in this version, as the family cat. Kitty Bennet. Best idea ever.


One of the best things about October is the way it makes you completely reevaluate your wardrobe and gives you a different perspective on all the various odd bits of clothing you own - because what better place to look for a Halloween costume than in your own closet? I'm currently debating a few costume ideas (last-minute, I know), but whichever one I choose will come mostly from elements of clothing I already have. As much as I would love to sew something elaborate and amazing, I don't have the time, so I'm contenting myself with re-imagining things I own and possibly picking up a few fun accessories to give old clothes a new spin.

But of course October also brings wonderful everyday fashion options, like pairing up a bunch of autumnal colors or nestling into a chunky scarf or a warm coat. I find that bright colors and warm layers make the cold and the grey skies infinitely more bearable, and I certainly need lots of brightness and warmth to survive the cold snap that just descended on England. Brrrrrrrr.

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