Wednesday, 28 February 2018

10/52: The Stranger

This is the third book post in a row. I am currently making a new quilt tutorial that is coming out this week. I have been reading every evening now and I like to post my thoughts about what I have read quite quickly after finishing a book. It keeps thoughts fresh. Even though I make notes I think I lose something if I have too many days between writing and finishing the journey with the story. 

By the way. This week Vero True Social began to trend and I joined in.  It has no annoying advertisements to spoil the feed and I love it. I mean how many times you actually want to see that same hair trimmer,  unfitting lingerie or so called healthy lifestyle ad in a day? Not to mention  Fifty Shades of Grey trailer that I have seen like at least fifty times my face going a shade darker every time I get a glimpse of it. Vero has still problems because of the huge demand but so far I have felt it could be the answer to our dreams. Creative people of all kind could actually interact and see each other's work and good quality content. We put so much time to make posts, share ideas and thoughts so that it has been pity to see how it all disappears to a huge pile of junk. Vero offers a wonderful way to share links to blog posts, show what you are reading, what films you have enjoyed watching and so on. All things meaningful to us. It actually allows us to see what the people whose thoughts we are interested in are sharing. I hope that this utopia come true lasts for long :) And lets connect on Vero, I am there with my own name Sannu Vaarala. It would be so nice to have more inspiring people to follow. For the past two days that I have been using Vero it has been amazing to actually have a feed full of interior inspiration, books and crafts without any interruptions. *Edit 1.3.2018 I am already thinking about deleting my Vero account. So disappointed. I hoped this dream would have lasted longer. It has a great idea to connect creatives. But now that I have seen today's news about the background of the company I feel critical about being on Vero. I will continue to follow the discussion and see how it evolves.

Well then lets get to the actual theme of the day, Albert Camus' The Stranger. This book completed my first ten books for the 52 books in 52 weeks challenge! To see all books that I have read go to my lifestyle page and there is a list of Reading Notes with books discussed mentioned with links to the posts.

10/52 Albert Camus: L'étranger (1942). I read this book in Finnish, it has been translated 1947 as Sivullinen. The name in English is The Stranger. Camus' novel is about a young man who floats from situation to another without much paying attention to the direction of his own life. As a result he happens to kill a man. One of the main questions the book arises is whether passivity is a conscious decision or not. Every decision we make has it's consequences. When we don't make decisions but accept what is brought in front of us are we actually making a choice? 

Following might contain some spoilers! It is difficult to say if the main character is unlucky or responsible for the things that happen to him. When he attends to his mother's funeral it is hard to say if he is shocked and feels quilt about abandoning his mother and therefore incapable of showing emotions. What comes to his relationships there is some sort of randomness. When his girlfriend Marie asks if they should marry it doesn't rise any strong emotions in his mind. He accepts it because it has no relevance to him who he is actually marrying. When his friend, who has a questionable background, asks main character to help him he accepts it too without hesitation. This brings up the moral issue. In big and small decisions the main character doesn't seem to evaluate his options but loosely accepts every proposal.  He doesn't ask further questions from his friend but backs him up and becomes part of criminal actions that harm other people. This way it cannot be said that he is a victim when the unfortunate situation happens. It really made me wonder the role of conscious decision. Can one say that he answers to his friend's need for help because he wants to help this friend? It would be understandable to help a good friend and be a bit blind to the moral issues. In this case he assist a crime that cannot be explained to be morally right in any way. And he knows what he does but he does't seem to care, he just matter of factly helps his friend who happened to ask for help. He doesn't examine what is actually asked and to what it can lead.

When I was reading this novel it felt that the main character didn't take life seriously like most people do. Usually we want something from life and make an effort to guide our life to a direction we want it to go. I tried to reason his acts and wondered is his mother's death was the reason that made him so incapable to attach life and dream something from it. We don't know the main character before the funeral so we can only guess if he has been the same for his whole life. He seems to accept everything that is happening to him. Like it is predestinated and all he can do is to learn to live with it.

How we choose to act and how we make our appearance reflects to how we are seen in the eyes of others. Some social norms, like showing empathy and strong emotions in certain situations, shows to our fellow humans that we work according to same human logic and are capable of feelings and reactions. When main character is questioned from the killing people try to see how he feels and reacts. He continues the same way of behavior. He stays an outsider in his life without any passion to direct his life or make conscious decisions. On the trial he begins to feel he is not listened or allowed to show his capability to empathy and feelings. Maybe he only then realizes his own role in his life. That he should have been taking more part to what happens and how people see him. In the trial prosecutor paints more to him that there is making him more of a emotionless villain than he is. Somehow I felt that the main character had left an empty canvas for aggressive prosecutor to paint, by being passive and lazy to take part in his life. 

Because he didn't show to people around him what was going on in his mind they could only guess. It is for the reader to decide whether they guessed right or wrong. If it is possible because the main character gives so little of himself to the reader. I am now left to ponder if he was a victim of a trial system that left him without proper hearing. Stranger in his own case.  Maybe he was misunderstood and had still going through his mother's death that had left him blank. Or if he was passive by choice, too lazy to evaluate the moral of his acts, and therefore fully responsible for the acts that he was part of. Because if he was a stranger in his own life, not paying any attention to what he was asked to participate,  he might actually be dangerous. 

Saturday, 24 February 2018

9/52: Susan Sontag. Stories

Hope you are having a great weekend my dear friends! Today I decided to wake up a little earlier to get things done from my to do -list. You know when small, relatively easy tasks begin to pile and start an annoying noise in the back of your head? That happened to me and that is why I wanted to get rid off the background mumble that distracts creative work and work in general. Empty table every now and then feels amazing. And now I literally have an empty table after cleaning the whole house and finishing projects. The 13th of this month was a pancake day and I had bought ingredients to bake pancakes. I didn't and something as silly as the cream getting spoiled in the fridge was one of the annoying noises. Well now, tummy full with pancakes and cream I am writing this post from cleaned table that is in beautifully organized tiny home. Weekend happiness and small pleasures of life in it's best. And can you believe that the next book I will be reading completes the first ten of 52 books in 52 weeks challenge!

9/52 Susan Sontag: Stories (2017). The ninth book is a complete collection of Susan Sontag's stories. I haven't read anything from Sontag before and chose this particular book based on tree factors: I have seen her books on bookstagram accounts. This was in the local library's novelties. It has the most beautiful cover that is Howard Hodgking's painting Artificial Flowers. Inspiring and gorgeous cover being not the least of reasons why I was so motivated to read this book. After reading this collection of stories I have put Susan Sontag to my list of authors I want to read more. Stories brought up current issues that are now discussed and important moments in human life. I would say Sontag describes turning points in life in a way that is easy to relate, from small moments that shape our future to conscious life decisions.

In The Letter Scene turning points have been described in small moments when people write letters from different situations. The writers go through strong emotions they try to put in words. Task that is not easy when you never know how the person in the other end is processing your message. It is the same as in every writing, you never know who and in what kind of environment is reading your thoughts and what kind of meanings (that are different from your intentions) is put to your words. Story also makes you wonder how small things can have so big influence. Influence that cannot be reversed or changed. A moment's decision can affect your life in a way you never intended and you are to see it only years after. Maybe we don't always even notice or know the moments that shape our future but take the present as it is handed to us. Sometimes we might think over your decisions in life and wonder what we would have become is we chose a different path.

In Old Complaints Revisited the main character is making a big life decision. The person has been a part of unnamed Organization and wishes to part what they sees challenging. In this story Sontag pictures in a fine way what it is to go deep in an ideology and how all demanding it is to become a part of a group. The initiation process pictured in the story might sound extreme but is not actually that rare in social relationships. Like the main character quite many of us have a need to be something special and not like everybody else. We seek a group of people who are like minded and who we share same values with. Then after a while we might notice that little by little we are being changed by the group. We accept it's norms and unwritten rules like the main character gives an example how philosophical interests were encouraged and sports to develop physical appearance were undermined. For an outsider the unwritten rules might seem irrational or too restricting but inside a group it might not be that clear to see. It might not be unnamed and secret organization like the one in the story but an ordinary hobby group. I for example did running for few years as a hobby and noticed it influenced to my mind in a quite powerful way. There was a certain way of speaking and acting in running events for example. I also noticed that during the years of running I developed a skill to tolerate more pain. I might run and without noticing my toe was bleeding for example. To an outsider it might sound extreme but I am now only referring to few years of hobby running. We modify ourselves without even noticing and it is possible to see how we have changed only when we take distance  from what we keep as normal or mundane. If what we see then is something we want to get rid off it is complex situation as the main character in the story explains, the best years of life have gone with a certain pattern and lots have been sacrificed for the cause. And that sacrifice becomes visible only when you are outside the system. But the rewards of the sacrifice are only inside the organization.

The Dummy speaks 2018 so strongly that it scares. A man builds a dummy to live his life or those parts in his life he doesn't prefer. He wants the dummy to make his performance at work, take part in dull hobbies, be a husband to his wife and father to his children. What I thought in this point is what is left of life after all those things? What is actually better way to spend a life? The man in the story is so frustrated to his everyday life that he is ready to give it to a dummy. Tragic I think. The dummy, or dummies as he is forced to create two dummies eventually, begin to develop the life they are given to their own directions. In the end the man has become a shadow that as I see it has no life at all. The dummies both lead a content life. I wonder when life goes to the point that you feel powerless to change it to a direction you want and you are ready to leave all relationships and interests you have had before. I read from Twitter some weeks ago that it is possible to pay for a person to live your life so you can just stay at home and watch your life through the lenses of the actual person living. In some cases it makes sense, for example in tourism it could be used in virtual travel for example. But I think it is rather horrible future plan to stay alone at home and watch through the scene when someone does the things for you. Not every moment in life is wonderful and splendid and amazing. Still for me it is essential to do things in old fashioned way, walk, go to places, see people, interact face to face. Actually one novel I read last Autumn comes to my mind. Courtney Maum's Touch (2017) is about this theme, a human beings need for touch and interaction with other people. The man in Sontag's story is a tragic figure, he is so tired, and maybe depressed even, that he finds it comforting not to take part in his own life and just rest in emptiness. What is wrong in life or the way we are pushed to live if it results like that? Too many demands? Too many activities to take a part? Too much everything so that nothing feels special anymore? Or is it that we think our life should be an enormous experience like no one else's and it stresses us out when we notice we are as boring as the rest of the folk? This story really bought up so many questions and different angles to the subject.

To the end I still want to lift up two more stories that I especially enjoyed. Baby is a story about parenthood. It is both hilarious and very serious. I found it interesting to read how parents describe the events of baby's life so that it is not clear how old the baby they refer actually is. In same speech they tell how baby got his first tooth and how he should get a job. It describes perfectly the relationship between a child and a parent. One is always someone's child, no matter how old. Time goes rapidly and happenings begin to blur together, first tooth and first job are not so far from each other.

If you are an avid reader like me Pilgrimage might also have some resonance to you. It describes deliciously the joy of binging books and passionate relationship with literature. In the story an avid reader meets her literary hero, Thomas Mann. The meeting between the fans and the author makes you think whether great books are bigger than their authors. Maybe one who writes can't always express themself in physical way or in speech but needs a pen and paper to have their thoughts transmitted from mind to other people. As an introvert I oppose the thought that everyone needs to be a show person to sell their work, no matter the nature of the work. It is amazing that someone can write a whole world. Sometimes the ability to see the life around us and it's details demand a person who is more still and inside their mind pondering all the happenings rather that creating fuss and events.

If you need something challenging and thought provoking I highly recommend this collection of stories. One or two stories per day will give lots to think about and train your mind to see things around us in different manner.

Monday, 19 February 2018

8/52 The Color Purple

Happy New Week Everyone! I am warming my toes against the heater as I write this. It is cold winter day outside that is perfect for reading under the blankets. The eighth book I am reading to 52 books in 52 weeks challenge is Alice Walker's The Color Purple. I finished it last week but wanted to share my new quilt pattern on Friday and save the reading notes post for this week. So far this reading challenge has been motivating and inspiring. It has been fun to share books I have read and check what others have been reading. I have also had great discussions about what books to read next with other bookstagrammers. My to be read list grows almost every day so it seems I will have plenty to read for the rest of my life. The challenge has inspired me to read thought provoking and not so easy to read books. Somehow writing about these books has made it possible to read because I don't have to keep it all inside but I can share thoughts with you. Today's novel goes to this category of books that were before almost impossible to read for me. I go deep to these life stories, fiction or nonfiction, and usually difficult books affect to my moods. Now that I have been making notes I process those thoughts to a paper and I don't have to carry everything in my head. Sounds like I have reinvented a wheel, right? I have never enjoyed writing a diary but after long years of studying keeping a notebook to gather important information and develop ideas has become a natural way of processing both things I have read and issues that circle in my head. I wonder how many pages I will write notes this year.

8/52 Alice Walker: The Color Purple (1982). I read this book in Finnish Häivähdys purppuraa. Following might contain some spoilers! This Pulitzer Prize winner was a difficult read because it pictures violence in many forms. Main character Celie lives between the World War I and II in Georgia, in a society that has racism. She is also being abused in her family and has little to say to the course of her own life. From this starting point her whole life story with it's hardships and wonderful moments is told in a form of letters to God and her sister.

Celie and her sister Nettie are somehow connected their whole life even though they are separated when Celie has to marry a man who she is forced to. One of the most wonderful things in this novel is the way it shows how a person's mind keeps the same and recognizable their whole life. It was in the end that I actually fully understood that this novel had Celie's whole life story. Her voice in her letters keeps the same and when she writes to her sister it sounds like they have just separated even though they have been apart most of their life. Sure people change in some ways but after all our personality is quite the same even though our looks change during the years. Especially when Celie and her sister Netty have known each other from their childhood it keeps up the person one has been since the beginning. Celie has her coping mechanisms and own humor that stays the same.

The way Celie confronts people changes when she gets friends who empower her and tell her to care for herself. In the beginning it is hard to read how down her self esteem has been pressed. She has learned to forget herself and her needs. Both her father and husband are violent and have taught her that she is nothing. This has gone deep in her and to cope with the daily violence she tries to forget her own existence. It is when she gets friends with her stepson's wife Sofia that she is guided to keep her own side and demand respect. And when Celie meets powerful Shug, her husband's lover, she gets a person to her side who puts a stop to her husband's violent behavior. This gives Celie a space to develop her own identity. Shug is the one who shows the surrounding world and it's possibilities; how it is possible to value yourself, demand people to do things for you, have a career using your gifts and express your own personality without apology. When Shug and Celie become lovers Celie is first time in a relationship she has chosen and she has someone who encourages her to find her own talent.

The novel brought up a thought if we can actually choose the people who we live our lives with or is it that the important people of your lives are just given. Like we have to cope with the bunch of people thrown in to our lives. Sometimes we do it with great success sometimes with not so wonderful results. In the novel the relationships are not straight forward and according to some common fairytale. There are ex-spouses and spouses, ex-lovers and current lovers, children and step children, siblings and parents, friends and enemies and they all live together. Some of the people are good and some are bad. Roles change, the good ones have bad sides and bad ones are not thoroughly evil. When Celie lived with her husband Albert her life was full of violence and fear and they seemed to have nothing in common. In the end of the story they have both been modified, Celie has become more powerful and Albert has acknowledged his former role as an abuser and made an effort to change. What they have in common is the way they both love Shug. Situations change and turn the way we see people in front of us. The bad things in life are not to be cherished and explained as good ones. But in Celie's life story links that lead to good or bad happenings were not that easy to spot. Some catastrophes brought great things to her life in the end. 

Friday, 16 February 2018

Quilt Pattern: Memory of August

You are allowed to laugh at me if you like. I have made a new quilting project thinking of warm late summer sun even though there is constant pour of snow and strong winds outside. Coldest winter months are at hand so it is actually very logical to dream of summer and gather warm inviting colors to a quilt's palette. The first draft I made for this project before Christmas but the darkest three months I keep a break from quilting. These projects need light in order to succeed because there are so many fine details. Seams need to match and stitches to be even so the look is finished. Not to talk about color planning. I don't want to notice in the first sunlight that colors I have chosen are anything but the colors they seemed to be in artificial light. It might be interesting for you to compare the first ideas on my bullet journal spread to the final version you can see in a pillow. Idea can be seen in the drawing but every time the end result is a little bit different after the whole process.

I have made quite many quilt projects during these years when I have been blogging. In the pictures you can also see the very first quilting project I have put in this blog, the Creative Night Shift. It is a blanket made with log cabin technique and has been a start for my colorful quilting style. Before that I have made two blankets, some smaller works and about five pillows if I remember correct. Quilting is a hobby that easily turns into a passion of a lifetime. It offers endless possibilities to learn new, test different styles and plan your own projects. If you study more about traditional quilts you will learn how much symbolism they hold. Learning about the symbols take you to an another level of quilting. I have tried to catch some emotions to my quilts, how I have felt when planning and making and what has been around me at that moment.

This month's pattern is called Memory of August and I share with you some tips how to make your own piece. In my last post I opened the planning and making process and from that you can read how much time it takes to create a new quilting pattern. If you like my work please share on social media and/or link to my blog so people can see these posts too. Also if you get inspired by my posts I would love to see your own creations, connect on social media and visit your blog. 

Color planning. The print with black birds was too strong to company with the rest of the fabrics so I left it out. After making the first blocks I saw that I needed to add strong yellow to brighten the palette.

Memory of August

You will need:

Cotton fabric in red, grape, pink, peach, orange, yellow and pattern.
Sewing yarn
Embroidery yarns
Batting fabric
Back fabric (pink)


Sewing machine
Quilter's rule
Cutting mat
Rotary cutter
Embroidery hoop

Step 1. Cut 6,5 * 10 cm rectangles: 10 in Grape/ 10 in Orange/ 8 in Pink/ 8 in Red/ 8 in Yellow/ 8 in Peach

Step 2. Make triangle blocks using 6,5 * 10 cm rectangles. Combine together grape and orange / pink and yellow / red and peach. To a block you need two rectangles in both colors. Put the rectangles as shown in the picture right sides together and matching together opposite corners. Attach the pieces together and draw a line from corner to corner. Remember to make the second piece as a mirror image.

Step 3. Sew from both sides of the line with 0,75 cm sewing allowance. Cut the pieces apart following the drawn line. Open the seam with iron.

Step 4. Now you have four triangle rectangles. Cut off the extras that come out of the sewing allowance.

Step 5. Now you have many ways to place the rectangles and create different patterns. In this project we are using the first and sixth way. With grape and orange use the first one and with red and peach & pink and yellow use the sixth.

Step 6. Sew pieces of the block together. First long sides together and then matching the seams combine the two parts. Note that there is a bit bigger sewing allowance when you combine the two parts!!

Step 7. After you have made all triangle blocks measure a block and make plain rectangles in following colors: 4 in orange/ 4 in red/ 2 in pink / 4 in pattern.

Step 8. Sew blocks together following the picture above. Remember to iron well.

Step 9. Layer together batting fabric, batting and the quilt, pin and sew. Then stitch the layers together using embroidery hoop, embroidery yarn and needle.

Step 10. After you have stitched the layers together cut off the extra batting and batting fabric. Sew the quilt into a pillow. Tips for that you can find from my previous quilting tutorial. 

I wish you the most wonderful and relaxing weekend my friends! If you need more quilting inspiration check these two tutorials:


Monday, 12 February 2018

Framed Moments

I have noticed that in quilting there are few special moments that tell you if the project is going to the right direction. Nowadays I know to seek for these moments and I work until I reach that step before I continue crafting. First step for me is choosing the right colors. After I have drawn the first sketch of a pattern I begin to go through my fabric stack. I make color families, some with harmony, some with contrasts and some with unexpected pairs. One method I use too is to take one print fabric and then choose colors to support it's palette. Usually when I am drawing a new pattern I have an idea what colors I will use, is it going to be more about red, blue, or green hues. I could also choose to have all the colors of the circle in bright graffiti shades. When the color combination begins to form I might need to buy one or two new fabrics that I don't have in my fabric cabinet. It is more of a tradition that I need to visit a fabric store. Because quilting is a craft that is time consuming I allow myself to purchase new equipment and materials quite often, there is no point using colors that don't feel exactly right and then spend weeks planning, sewing and stitching a pillow or months when a bigger project is in question. 

When colors have been chosen I begin to draw detailed color sketches. I draw 4-10 sketches where different parts are colored with different fabrics. After this process one or two begins to feel right and I choose one for further development. I plan and count the cutting as precisely as possible. Then I cut a sample of fabrics according to my cutting plan and begin to sew sample blocks. It might be that the pattern doesn't actually work in that size or with that fabric and I have to make corrections. Then I sew some blocks more. I begin with the blocks that have most seams and cuttings and then continue to count other blocks according to measurements of the most difficult ones. Like for example in my latest project I first made all triangle blocks and then measured and cut the rectangles that go between. I had a quite detailed color palette but one fabric I had planned to use between triangle blocks was too dominant and I left it out and went with no pattern fabrics that give space for the design. I cut few rectangle samples and played with the blocks. Then one setting looked interesting  and it had some challenge. I don't like too much harmony and every work needs to have spark. In every project I also make a test. I have a bad eyesight and when I take my glasses off all I can see is color blur. So I use my special power and take off my glasses to see if the colors are working. If there is for example too much yellow in one corner and then a bunch of red in another I make corrections so that the work looks even and colors go smoothly

Then it is time to cut the last blocks, sew and iron before one of my favorite parts comes. Stitching the batting. To be honest I used to hate this part. I have a small apartment and stitching a larger project is difficult or even impossible. When I understood that I can make smaller projects it was a heureka moment. With pillows or table runners it is easy to get an even batting. Embroidery hoop stays tight, you can sit and embroider in a comfortable position and there is no horrible back ache that comes from working with heavier projects like blankets. Now I love to plan the stitching and even if I stitch every block decoratively it doesn't take ages to finish. The ultimate framed moment is when the first part of the work is attached to the embroidery hoop and I have made the first stitches. It is the moment that tells if the project has succeeded. Because a successful project is a piece of modern art framed with embroidery hoop. It works as itself and could be hanged on the wall. Its colors please and challenge the eye. Lines cross in harmony creating an interesting pattern. It is the moment I am hooked in quilting and it encourages to start a project after project.

What are your framed moments? Do you love quilting or do you have another form of self expression?

Inspiring and creative week to you all!


Friday, 9 February 2018

7/52: Anna Karenina

7/52 Leo Tolstoy: Anna Karenina (1875-1877). This classic has deserved it's position as one of the most loved novels in the world. It is a long read, there is 999 pages in the Finnish translation, but Tolstoy has used his paper well. The novel opens the whole world between human's birth and death.  I love novels that work in various levels giving a great story and something deeper to work in your mind years after. In Anna Karenina there is both day's politics of the 1875-1877 and greater than life love story. Discussions that social circles have in their parties open the mental climate of the era without a historical dust cover. Time has changed but it is interesting to notice how for example equality issues were brought up in a party conversation. They discuss how women and men have different possibilities and rules in what is accepted. The life story of Anna and Vronsky also examines the same issue. Anna has more drastic consequences from their rule breaking decision to live together. 

In infinite time, in infinite matter in infinite space, is formed a bubble organism, and that bubble lasts a while and bursts, and that bubble is Me.

-Leo Tolstoy: Anna Karenina

The characters have their own  backgrounds that have formed them as they are. Everyone has their own noble moments and charm but not a single character is without flaws or ugliness. After all, what we can know from each other is very limited. We know people around us by shared experiences and what they decide to tell us of their inner life. People have expectation towards each other and they build their own dreams including others to their plans. Karenin has his career goals and he is satisfied with his mundane family life. Anna Karenina seems pleased with her life with Karenin but reads and dreams of great adventures and something more. Dolly, Anna's friend and her brother's wife, feels betrayed when she hears about her husbands lovers and that the truth she has learned is something very different than what she has based her whole life. There comes a question in what way you are allowed to chase your goals and dreams? In the novel characters hurt each other badly when they try to orientate towards their own ambitions and passions.  

When Anna meets Vronsky she finds a chance to make her own adventure and turn her life into something interesting. Little by little what she has learned to accept during the years become unbearable and her husband's manners start to irritate her. In her need of change she feels even a full catastrophe is better than live the boring life she has had so far.  When she tells her husband about her relationship with Vronsky Karenin's sanction to keep things as they are is so horrible that she gets depressed. The safe, boring and fully planned lifestyle offered to women doesn't seem to please any of the characters. In one get-together women ask from each other how they spend their time when everything is so boring. In the atmosphere there is a need to shake the norms. Women's rights for education, self development and public career is discussed a few times. One of the biggest themes in the novel is a woman's right to seek passion and fulfill her dreams in every sector of life. 

It is tragic that after all the years Anna and Vronsky spend together Anna is haunted by the decision she has made. Social circles have abandoned her and she feels lonely. She misses her son she had to leave to Karenin. In the loneliness there is space for jealousy after Vronsky. She is constantly afraid of loosing him and the passionate relationship turns into game of suspicion and mistrust where they both begin to show their worst sides. When Vronsky finally gets to be with Anna he doesn't feel happy but empty and after years together begins to seek his freedom. He, as a man, has a right to chase freedom. Anna has made a decision to choose freedom but is restricted by social circles and norms.

With Levin there comes a philosophical aspect to the novel. He swells deep in questioning the meaning of life and the inevitable truth that we all die. He is used as a way to bring the large scale of life's and nature's circle in where all life's fortunes and tragedies take a place. He is both attached to the world and soil by his farm and love with Kitty but also at times comes to understand how temporary it all is. The thought of temporariness makes him anxious and he is challenged to stay focused on life. When he goes too deep thinking of death he doesn't see a point to do everyday chores, dream or develop himself. Because of these thoughts, old as life on Earth, he loves to take part in farm work that keeps him in reality. 

The constant thinking of death would make it impossible to live but death is also a motivator in life. Anna decides to go after Vronsky when still in this life, with the risk of hurting Karenin. Decisions in life are always decisions of life and death, how you choose to live this moment or waste it. Do I follow love or leave the important decisions undone and stay satisfied with the boring and mundane. Spending time on Earth is how we slowly kill ourselves. On the contrary our decisions can waste time from other people and make their decisions and how they have spent their time pointless. Like Stiva who has made Dolly to question their life together or Anna who questions Karenin's achievements. 

Levin also brings up the theme of ideals and how much people can change. He and Kitty go into same fights again and again. And in the end when Levin finds religious path he is surprised how little it affects on his everyday manners. After having a life changing moment when he realizes some of the meaning of life he still yells to his worker and does other things he has just wanted to change in himself. The tasks and patterns that keep us in life keep us separated from the greater truth of life. Truth being something we can then stop and think every now and then, forget and continue doing what we do as long as we have time. And life in all it's horrible, terrifying, wonderful and beautiful ways is between birth and death and small moments of understanding the bigger picture.

I have tried to read Anna Karenina before but never finished. This time the story began to speak right from the beginning. Maybe there is time for every book. A book that was just a book starts to bring up the same issues you have pondered in your mind lately and every clause has a meaning. Maybe some discussions get a new meaning because we study the story behind the 2018 lenses. Still the fascination of a great classic is to notice how similar issues we carry through the time. Of course the ideologies of the era bring an own touch to the writing but when human being is described in their barest what we can find is something that doesn't change. 

Monday, 5 February 2018

Reading Notes 6/52: February

Those who follow me on Instagram might be thinking 'Oh, wasn't she supposed to read Anna Karenina as sixth book?' Yes, that is true. I took a challenge to read Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina in one week and I am determined to finish it as I promised, on this week's Thursday. That means you might get two blog posts about books this week. But it is not a bad thing to have more talk about great books, is it? So this week's surprise book is Françoise Sagan's Bonjour tristesse that I read in Finnish. I heard about this book from my Instagram friend and got so interested that I went to get this from a library the same week. 

I love to read about books and get new authors to read. Especially I have got a project to read books that are not originally written in English. Books in English are easy to find and I can read those in original language. But what comes to books written in some other language than Finnish or English there comes a little challenge as I can't read those books in original language and some classics are difficult to find in Finnish. Those have been translated years ago and copies have been sold out. Luckily this one was in the local library so didn't have to wait long to get to read it. Few steps to the nearest library and I was at home reading. I started this book right after Truman Capote's In Cold Blood but then got an idea to read Anna Karenina. Yet I had curiosity to finish this before Anna Karenina as this is relatively short read, only 131 pages. 

6/52 Françoise Sagan. Bonjour Tristesse (1954). I read this in Finnish Tervetuloa, ikävä. Cécile is having a lazy summer holiday with her father and her father's mistress Elsa. Suddenly her mother's old friend Anne comes to the villa and she finds out her father and Anne are having a relationship. Anne is intelligent, ambitious and demanding what both fascinates and terrifies Cécile. She becomes afraid that her and her father's loose lifestyle will come to an end. To get rid off Anne she creates a plot that includes her boyfriend Cyril and Elsa. 

Cécile is evaluating her goals in life as any young person. She wants to continue a lazy and loose lifestyle she and her father have created. Lifestyle where there is no demands, ambitions or rules. It kind of seems a dream lifestyle for a person who has no hurry in life but all her years ahead to waste. Still she admires Anne in every way and finds her sophisticated lifestyle and intelligence as something to want in her future. She respects Anne's opinions and guidance what comes to education and other big life decisions. Yet she is afraid that her life will become boring and scheduled adult life too soon if Anne and her father will marry each other. Maybe the lifestyle Anne represents is something Cécile will have later in life after she has had her adventures and mistakes.

Anne is also an opponent Cécile has been missing. Someone who has enough wit to oppose her and question her choices. That is something what every rebel needs, a person who puts boundaries to break. When Cécile's father acts like her friend instead of a parent he actually gives too much freedom and responsibility. In some cases he is even acting like a teenager and Cécile has to be the one to set boundaries. That is why Cécile needs to test Anne who is the only one with enough capacity to win her. 

When her evil plot to misguide her father and drive away Anne succeeds she is astonished. She has been playing a game and is surprised by her power to influence people. In her egoism she has neglected Anne's feelings. It is eye opening moment for Cécile when she understands that Anne is a living human being with dreams and feelings that can be hurt like any other person's even though she seems to have unbreakable self esteem. Her father in the other hand shows his immaturity when he becomes obsessed to show how he can get Elsa back from Cyril. 

This novel pictures honestly young person's naive cruelty. She is not evil but still a bit egoistic and naive. She doesn't yet understand how big influence her actions can have as she is partly a child testing her limits even though playing in adult world. The play becomes a catastrophe because of the role of her father. That is why it is so tragic in the end when she and her father continue their life as they did before Anne. Cécile has lost maybe more than she can imagine.

Have you read this book? What kind of thoughts it provoked in you?

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Valentine's Day Decorations

Valentine's Day, what a wonderful reason to craft and decorate! There is never too many festive days in a year. I like to have excuses to make small decorations and arrangements. In a small apartment festive seasons are a handy way to change decor and have a reason to start over again. 

I know festive days can cause stress because there is a pressure to have lots of fun and masses of people around you. Spending Valentine's Day alone doesn't sound that appealing when you look at the pictures in social media or magazines. Also there might be a pressure to buy expensive gifts you actually can't afford. I have taken an approach to enjoy all festive seasons in advance. I gather inspiration, plan, craft and decorate. I have learned that preparations are the thing that I enjoy the most. Festive days feel often a bit flat. Sometimes the actual celebration has no extra because all events and gatherings are before or after the day. Like it is thought that people have too many plans already for that day. 

One way to celebrate Valentine's Day is to make DIY decorations, send Valentine's cards, maybe bake festive treats and take part to some Valentine's event. I really hope that every town and village has at least one event where everybody is invited. It might not be labelled with Valentine's Day in it. Maybe it is a dance class or reading circle that actually has gatherings every week, but is open for new members. One of my plans for Valentine's Day is to attend to an open lecture that has nothing to do with Valentine's. It just happens to take place that day. For me the most important thing is to be among people and do something that I am actually interested in. Who is to show the right way to celebrate Valentine's Day or any other festive season.

For those like minded people who enjoy crafting and decorating I have got two Valentine's decoration DIY ideas. I felt I needed to craft something small and super cute this year. Pink, hearts, pearls and tassels are the details that make my Valentine's decoration this February. And sure, pink flowers like roses or carnations are traditional but never old fashioned. So here you have: Heart Decoration 1 and 2 tutorials. Please share on social media if you like <3 

Heart Decoration 1.

You will need:

27 small pearls
Thin wire
Embroidery Yarn
Golden sewing yarn

Piece of cardboard

Step 1. Cut 2,5 cm high piece from cardboard. Cut long piece of wire and put on the cardboard. Twist embroidery yarn around the cardboard and wire 11 times.

Step 2. Knot the wire tight around the bundle and remove the cardboard.

Step 3. Knot piece of embroidery yarn 0,5 cm from wire knot. Trim the tassel.

Step 4. Thread 13 small pears to both wire ends.

Step 5. Put wire ends together and twist tight with pliers. Put a pearl to cover the knot and little bit of glue to keep the pearl in its place. Put a loop from sewing yarn to hang the decor.

Heart Decoration 2

You will need:

Felt heart or big heart shaped pearl
3 small pearls
Embroidery yarn
Golden sewing yarn


Step 1. Cut 2,5 cm high piece from cardboard. Cut long piece of golden yarn and put on the cardboard. Twist embroidery yarn around the cardboard and golden yarn 11 times. 

Step 2. Knot the golden yarn tight around the bundle and remove the cardboard.

Step 3. Knot piece of embroidery yarn 0,5 cm from golden yarn knot. Trim the tassel.

Step 4. Take a needle and thread two pearls, felt heart and one pearl to the golden yarn. Make a knot to the end of the yarn so you can hang the decor.

Happy first of February To You All <3