When I captured the first photo above – the dramatic view of distant Castell Dinas Bran radiant in the sunlight and mist – I felt as though I’d stepped into a painting by Thomas Cole, one of my favorite artists associated with the Hudson River School. (The thematic similarity of castle ruins immediately made me think of The Present, a painting I used to teach with almost daily in my previous job, but it could really be any glorious Cole landscape!)
I expected a grey, wintry Wales awaited me during my trip in January, so the verdant pastures and generally vernal signs of life took me by surprise. If only the bleak New England beginning-of-the-year could take some tips from Great Britain!
What could be a more appropriate distraction from my newfound fear of flying than The Faerie Handbook, a volume dedicated to winged creatures? It was with this logic that I toted this gorgeous, enormous tome in my carry-on luggage to Europe and back this past winter, hoping its lush pages might soothe my anxiety mid-flight. I waited in the terminal clutching it behind my boarding pass, too afraid to leave the book in my backpack and risk loosing access to it after the captain had turned back on the fasten seatbelts sign.
I shouldn’t bury the lede: my air travels are less relevant than my general adoration for this book by the creators of Faerie Magazine. Still, its detailed, whimsical contents did indeed prove a panacea to some of my turbulence terrors…so that’s saying something!
Now that seemingly eternal January has concluded at last, my journey through the cold land of engaging architecture feels even more distant – but I can’t let it slip away completely without sharing my first continental castle photographs!
My family spent a misty Christmas in Bern(e), Switzerland, and although it proved too overcast for quality Alp-spotting, the architecture appeared hauntingly beautiful against the wintry skies. These scenes document our holiday day-trip to neighboring Thun, where teal water and gold trim glistened festively!
Somewhere, lost amid the super-markdown bins of a beloved nearby craft store, the perfect craft paper pad summoned me, singing of its pastel, magical-themed glory. Because I suppose mermaids, unicorns, and tiny sparkling stars are “seasonal,” this collection cost me a mere $5 – a quarter of the original price.
The even more miraculous twist in this tale, though, occurred when I discovered that these papers perfectly matched some of my favorite washi tapes and embellishments, including this beautiful mint bird-patterned tape and Rifle Paper Co. labels – very kind gifts from my future sister-in-law! In fact, I’m so pleased by this absolutely superlative pairing of colors that I almost feel I’ve reached the zenith of my envelope design abilities. However will I best this next time?
For some reason, I attempted to channel a vaguely Atlantis: The Lost Empire aesthetic for my first day of the spring semester. Milo Thatch, after all, has always been my number-one fictional academic inspiration.
Will such a style help me with art history, though? Likely not — but if I need to decipher any runes or mythical cartography I might be okay.
It seems that I only turn to knitting exactly once a year: something I hope to change in 2018! My single project for 2017, though, was typical fiber fare for me. I’ve been dazzled by illusion knits since I was in high school, and I have crafted a number of such scarves as holiday presents over the years (my personal favorite was the miniature helix scarf I attempted as a secret Santa present for a friend in college). This time, I decided to design my own pattern, inspired by Generic Squid Characters In No Way Associated With A Game My Fiancé Enjoys.
By the time you read this, he will have already opened this weird and whimsical gift at our belated second-Christmas celebration in January, so it can be safely revealed to the world. I, however, am writing this in the past, and at this moment in time all I can say is that I truly hope he likes it!
Sometimes when I wake up in my little town on the Mainland and see the temperature hovering around balmy negative fifteen degrees Fahrenheit, I remember the island where I was born and how my foolish childhood self used to gaze admiringly up at the slopes of Mauna Kea and dream of one day living in a place where it snowed.
As the East Coast becomes increasingly miserable this January, I thought it an apt time to share some memories from the little detour to Kaua’i that my family enjoyed when I visited home this summer, including a visit to what I might humbly suggest is among the most phenomenal natural wonders the world has to offer.
Waimea Canyon State Park, often hailed as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” can hardly be captured in photographs, but I hope these fleeting impressions give you a slight sense of these Pacific mountains’ majesty!