Borrowing Books from the Library

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Hello,

This week, I worked my very last scheduled shift at my public library so that I could move on to my full-time job doing something else.

I thought it was important to take the time to explain why I love the library so much, and why I chose to work there in the first place. Working at a library didn’t usually feel like strenuous, obnoxious work, and the truth was, I loved working there. Being around books and people who love to read is a blessing, and as a lover of literature, I felt that I fit right in. I loved recommending books to people and in turn, learning what books I should read next. I would see the same people every week, and I looked forward to hearing how they were. I also saw new people signing up for the library all the time, and it reinstated my faith that libraries will live on.

Before I worked at one, I used the library quite a lot. So many people love books, but they also feel a compulsive need to own every book that they read. I’m suggesting (if that is the case for you) to sever your ties with idea that ownership and learning are the same thing. You can read a book, experience it, learn from its story, and still give it back for someone else to read. Yes, there are some books (well, many) that I loved so much, I bought a copy for myself because I wanted to return to it whenever I liked. But for casual reading, especially for those who read a lot, you will save so much money by using your local library, and you will probably find more things to read that you never thought you’d enjoy before!

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Here’s the thing: books are magic. They are! And the fact that you can sign up (for free!) at a place that is a sanctuary for so many people, and take loads of books to the counter and check them out and take home all those stories of magic with you, that is too good to pass up. I’ve heard the usual arguments against libraries.

It takes too much time!

We are a culture obsessed with immediacy. Things have gotten faster and simpler for us, so we get a little bit greedy. But trust me when I say this, I take some mornings that I have off and turn it into “me” time when I go to the library. I get a coffee beforehand, I let myself browse the shelves and get a few cookbooks, and I even walk around the city afterwards and poke around in the antique stores. It can be a practice of mindfulness and quiet happiness. And for those who say they truly don’t have time to go, that’s okay! I’ve seen plenty of people rush into the library, pluck something from the “new” shelf, check out at the counter, and get out of there in five minutes. It’s really about getting there. Just get there. Just try it.

Borrowing/sharing books is gross! They are dirty!

Here’s the thing, they really aren’t dirty. I can say from experience that when people return a book that is messy/torn/ruined, we fix it immediately, or we take it out of circulation. Sometimes, we miss those books by mistake, and a patron will bring it to our attention. And then we fix it immediately, or we take it out of circulation. Most books we get are super new and in beautiful condition. Plus, if you love tiny bookstores and used book shops, you are buying used books anyway. It’s worth a look.

I’m afraid I won’t bring my books back on time!

Let me tell you a story. Even I, someone who worked at a library, was late bringing things back. One time in particular, I had forgotten about the books I was supposed to return, and so many days had passed, I was scared to bring them back. When I placed them on the desk and the librarian checked them in, I shyly handed my card over so she could see the damage on my account. “70 cents!” She said. 70 cents. I happily paid her a dollar and let them keep the change. I know libraries vary on their borrowing and fining rules, but most of the time, books are not going to break the bank. In fact, at my library, a book fine couldn’t even reach over $3 itself for being overdue, it stopped at $3. Movies and museum passes are another story, but we’re talking about books here. Don’t be scared. Just find some books, bring them back when you can, and enjoy what the library can offer you in reading entertainment.

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I’d like to know other people’s opinions on libraries and if they use them. I’ve been lucky enough to borrow from incredibly huge city libraries, as well as tiny small-town libraries, and I love them all. Because of budget cuts, libraries and museums are suffering greatly, so I mean it when I say that giving it an honest try could mean contributing to a better society with well-rounded funding for community centers that encourage learning.

I think this sums it up:

 

“Libraries are innately subversive institutions 

born of the radical notion that every single member

of society deserves free, high quality access

to knowledge and culture.” 

-Dr. Matt Finch

And of course, my favorite:

 

“All the secrets of the world are contained in books.

Read at your own risk.”

-Lemony Snicket

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The Art of “Creepy Cozy” | Inspired by Edward Gorey

The Art of “Creepy Cozy” | Inspired by Edward Gorey

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I thought I had invented the term “creepy cozy” because I was simply the only one around myself that ever said it. When watching a horror movie, I would mentally rank the film according to how many cozy elements were in it. When reading a spooky book, I would note if there were parts of the book that also made me feel snuggly. Is this irrational? Possibly. But I happen to know that Edward Gorey felt something similar for his work, and after learning as much as I possibly could about the iconic illustrator, I have determined that he is the King of “creepy cozy” and I have some facts to back it up.

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First let me talk a little bit about Gorey and how I became so obsessed. One of my main sources of inspiration (and the reason I started writing the story I am writing right now) is Lemony Snicket (AKA Daniel Handler) who was a big fan of Gorey. I could see that once looking them both up, because style-wise, they seem similar. But after buying one of Gorey’s books and doing so much research, I could easily see the detailed inspiration that Handler got for his A Series of Unfortunate Events books.

I saw that there was an Edward Gorey exhibit being held at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut. On Saturday, I attended. And man, was I blown away. I have some photos of the exhibit that I will post here, and the rest are on my instagram.  I spent probably an entire hour in just this exhibit, as there was so much to see. There were interactive parts, with a mirror and a ballet bar so you could take pictures with a few tutus that were props. There was a recreation of his desk, two of his famous fur coats, and a projected video of his PBS Mystery! intro that he created.

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So what was his whole deal? He was a creative, weird introvert. This is no surprise, those are my favorite people. But here is some background information on the genius.

Gorey’s Worlds focused on not just Gorey’s artwork, but the art that inspired him and was hung around his home in Cape Cod. The exhibit will be on display until May 6th in Hartford before going to Washington state for the summer. Gorey was born in Chicago in 1925 and died while he was living in Cape Cod in 2000 (Lemony Snicket famously believes he killed Gorey, look it up) and most of his illustrations had a gothic/Victorian style.

“The style was already on full display in his early 30s, when he published “The Doubtful Guest,” about a penguin-like creature who invades the home an Edwardian family. The Hartford show features some of the book’s original drawings. His audience widened in the 1970’s as he worked for broadway (costumes and sets for “Dracula”) and, a bit later, designed the opening sequence of PBS’s “Mystery!” series.” (Wall Street Journal)

What I love about his style is that it is playful and child-like, but the substance of the stories being told is always unsettling. I loved seeing the original sketched for “The Doubtful Guest” and was struck by how cute the little penguin-like creature was, but how at the heart of it, it is a story about someone who invades your home and refuses to leave. Creepy. (And cozy).

 

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One of my favorite pieces that was in the showcase that was not done by Gorey but was in his home was a piece by Glen Baxter who is a hilariously eccentric artist and the piece is called “The Desecration of the Tennis Courts Has Produced a Very Difficult Situation.” Gorey was also inspired by a lot of folk art, which was on display. He found himself the subject of a few photographers as well, and those photos were in the exhibit.

Much of the work he collected and drew himself was centered on animals, as he was a big lover of them, and towards the end of his life he eventually gave up wearing his beloved fur coats and instead focused on animal activism. He could be found with six cats at a time, he was a massive cat-lover. (Many of his illustrations feature cats, which continue the “creepy cozy” theme)

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What’s funny is that Gorey did not like when people called his work “macabre” as many people had used that to describe the work too often. He gained notoriety for things that were very macabre though, like his set design for Dracula (which he won a Tony for) and for his themes centered on murder/death.

My favorite of all his work has to be “The Awdrey Gore Legacy” (find the anagram) which is a sort-of murder mystery in the style of Clue. The drawings are fantastic and the whole thing reminds me of Agatha Christie, an author that Gorey was very fond of and read all of her books multiple times. There are balls and gardens and people have drinks (these are the appealing parts of the story) and then there is murder, plain and simple.

Gorey includes rainy days, mansions and seats by the window, Vicorian and Edwardian dress, and many more things that to me are considered cozy. And what does this do for me? It lets the story be more immersive, I am able to sit inside of it. Because there are aspects of these stories that I can identify with, it makes the scary that much more scary, because it is no longer removed. These things happen on a  rainy, bleak day. How many rainy, bleak days have I had?! Now, I’m looking over my shoulder, and the story has proved effective.

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This leads me to what stories are creepy/cozy in my opinion, which is a balance I try to strike in my own writing. I will first go over what elements in a story are considered “Cozy Factors” which is almost like getting points for how cozy it makes me feel. Many people will read this and think it is unbelievable, but hey, this is a post about Edward Gorey, so I don’t want to disappoint.

Things that get Cozy Points:

Reading nooks, rainy days, seaside towns (especially in the off-season), reading, candlelight, taking a walk on a foggy day, pianos, taking a bath, being in the forest (especially in Autumn), ridiculously large mansions, Victorian dress, any movie that contains these things that has been adapted from a novel. 

It is important to note that my obsession with these specific things being “cozy” may have started from reading A Series of Unfortunate Events when I was young and thinking it was the coolest/creepiest/coziest series of all time. Shout out to it, because the second season is out now! (Not that I’ve been waiting around for it or anything…)

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Stories that are my favorite displays of “cozy creepy”

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë  (Book & Film)

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier (Book & Film)

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving (Book & Film)

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie (Book & Film)

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (Book & Film)

(Just Films)

Crimson Peak

The Awakening

The Haunting

The Woman in Black

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These are my favorites, the things that I turn to when I need inspiration. The reason they are so well-loved by me is because they are scary and creepy, yes, but they contain parts that are beautiful. The use of both is important to me, and when it is done the right way, it becomes a perfect story.

I especially love imagery of a girl lost, running through the foggy moors, a long journey on a dark and stormy night, or a massive house unknown to visitors, with secrets hiding away in its corners. I love the unknown of beautiful, mysterious women, the local lore and legends of monsters lurking in the woods, or the fear of being the next victim while occupying a luxurious train with suspicious people. I love the haunting crash of cold waves on the rocky cliffs above, the Victorian romance that is dripping with darkness, or the ominous boarding school that holds stories that we don’t dare wish to know. I love greenhouses on a rainy day where the mist doesn’t let you see out of the windows (or who could be looking in,) the small path of land between two islands that dangerously disappears with the tides. Ghosts, ghouls, goblins, mysterious disturbances. These are my favorite “creepy cozy” things, and I have to thank Edward Gorey for reminding me of them.

Let me know what your favorites are when it comes to creepy things. I know it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s always fun to exchange ideas on the subject. I feel incredibly inspired after diving back into these old sources of inspiration, and I feel they will aid me in writing tension into my scenes. Perhaps a writing prompt could come out of this?

I’ll be back soon,

-Heather

BoxLunch Haul

BoxLunch Haul

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I am not one to buy ostentatious purses, and one look into my wardrobe will show a plethora of plain black and brown. No detailing, not fancy straps, just plain old purses that do the job.

Not anymore! I made my first purchase from BoxLunch and I’m so happy that I have an exciting new bag to add to my closet that is adorable and celebrating one of my favorite fandoms, Harry Potter.

DSCF6710DSCF6713Besides the adorable purse, I got a pair of comfy pajama pants that have a beautiful graphic of a stag with a wand, and “Expecto Patronum” on the other side.

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Here are the links for the items I purchased:

Harry Potter Unforgivable Curses Mini Satchel

Harry Potter Expecto Patronum Sleep Pants

 

I’d love to know anyone else’s experience with BoxLunch. The products got here relatively quickly and were packaged very nicely. I am in love with the graphics and details on both products, but the bag has completely stolen my heart. I immediately moved my things inside it and started using it, and while it is wonderful for any Harry Potter fan, the color allows for it to match with most outfits! I will definitely be ordering from them again in the future.

And now a quote from our favorite headmaster, Albus Dumbledore:

 

“Happiness can be 

found in even the darkest

of times if one only remembers

to turn on the light.”

 

Four Dreamy Movies To Watch This November

Four Dreamy Movies To Watch This November

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Far From The Madding Crowd (2015) – 

It’s been about a year since I discovered this gem of a movie, and I return to it for lush landscapes and a beautiful love story. The movie follows an independent woman who goes through multiple trials and errors in her life with work and men while remaining a faithful friend to a farmer, who is in love with her (of course). The movie received positive ratings and praised Carey Mulligan as the lead actress, which I agree with as she is one of my absolute favorites.

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Suite Française (2014) – 

You are probably saying to yourself, hey, isn’t that the other guy from the first movie? Yes, it is, and in this movie he plays a German soldier who is stationed in the house that a young woman is living in. It takes place in France during World War II and deals with love and war, friendship and trust. You can imagine the rest.

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Jane Eyre (2011) –

This is one of my favorite stories ever, and Jane is my favorite character yet to be written. There is a lot going on with this story, but what is constant throughout is the resilience that Jane carries with her as she moves from hardship to hardship. Taking place in the misty moors, it is so comfy to watch while you’re snuggled up on a cold, windy day. The scenery and romance will sweep you up, it manages to charm me every time. The story has a good ending, which is why it is a tried and true movie for when I’m feeling down.

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Pride & Prejudice (2005) –

This is the most classic “dreamy” movie of them all, so it had to make the list. I watch this at all times of the year to be honest, day or night, and often at 3 am when I can’t sleep and it seems like the suitable thing to do. It’s my favorite “will they, won’t they” because I know the ending, and always find myself satisfied.

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I hope this gave you just a little bit of inspiration if you’re looking for a good movie to snuggle up and watch before it becomes Christmas movie time. I am pacing myself watching these wonderful classics.

If you want to see what else I’m up to, you can check out my Instagram and Tumblr  🙂

Be back soon,

-Heather

Autumn Notes

Autumn Notes

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Hello Everyone,

I wanted to take some time to jot down my favorite parts about Autumn, the parts that I have noticed the most this year.

-The way the leaves all change different colors together. The way their reds and yellows and oranges and browns paint the tips of the trees above my house. They produce the prettiest picture of the environment, and in the next minute, they might be blown away.

-The way decadent hot chocolate tastes the first time I have it in the season. The way the jumbo marshmallows start to melt before I can spoon them out greedily.

-The way the trees looks surrounding the bike trail that we ride on. They create a blanket of color as I fly by on my bike. The leaves start to stick to the ground, and my tire crunches over them. I can smell the way they are drying and curling in the grass. It smells like all the Autumns that I have ever remembered.

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-The way the first bite of pumpkin pie tastes. There is fresh whipped cream on top with a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg. It tastes so much better than I remember, and yet, exactly as good as it’s always been.

-The way the woods around our house begins to change. Some birds are flying away in flocks. We see less bears stumbling around the forest. Instead, squirrels and chipmunks steal the seeds and nuts that fall from the trees. There is cold rain at night and dewy grass in the morning. All around us, the woods are alive with woodland chatter.

-Drinking a hot cup of chai tea and pairing it with my favorite cookies. The taste is spicy and sweet, if I add a little bit of vanilla. When I drink it outside in the morning, steam rolls off of the mug and disappears near the falling leaves.

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-The bustle at local coffeeshops as their fall flavors start being sold. Watching through the large window as people rush by with large knit scarves and heavier jackets.

-The haunting way the mist rolls in, making the orange leaves almost fluorescent in comparison, and giving me a chill down my spine.

-Lighting candles late in the night and reading classic books next to them. The warmth from the candle casts a flattering glow over everything, and the flicker creates dancing shadows that keep me turning the pages. The wax pools and drips, and the room smells of pumpkin and cinnamon. I pull my blanket around me and wait for the light to run out.

 

I would love to know your favorite parts of Autumn. This is my favorite time of year and I really felt that I needed to give it a little extra love on my blog. I might do this for winter too, because I had fun making these observations about the way the season changes! Let me know your thoughts.

Talk soon,

-Heather

The Book Barn

The Book Barn

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Hello Everyone,

I want to a very interesting place last week, a place many people have been telling me about for awhile. It is the Book Barn in Niantic, CT, a collection of little barns where hundreds of used books are housed and looking for new homes. Cats were roaming galore. There were goats sitting in a castle playscape. It was an adventure to travel through the summer heat from building to building to peer through the different worlds in each new groups of genres. It wasn’t the cleanest place, or the best organized place, but it was homey and strangely comfortable.

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One of my favorite sections (in theory) was the “paranormal romances” which was actually full of twilight-type books, which is cool if you’re into that. Besides the actual barns full of books, there were also tiny stands outside amongst tables and chairs and cats where new books were sorted, and plenty of people were sifting through them. Everyone had a secret little smile playing on their lips, a knowing nod to each other, a collective love of literature.

I was so happy to be a part of it.

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Have any of you been here before? I know there are other locations throughout Connecticut, and I’m eager to know what others think of them! I got three books while I was there: The Invention of Nature, The Cambridge Murders, and a collection of poetry by Charles Baudelaire.

“Books don’t change people;

Paragraphs do, sometimes 

even sentences.”

-John Piper

 

Ravenclaw Inspired Lookbook ✨💕🦉

Ravenclaw Inspired Lookbook ✨💕🦉

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I put together a little lookbook of my most Ravenclaw-ish outfits!

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Does anyone else wish they were looking out Ravenclaw tower? That’s what I was thinking about in this photo. Also, maybe cake.

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Taking a break from studying potions to snuggle my pup. This notebook was the one I bought for my birthday, and it screams Ravenclaw. I thought so as soon as I saw it. It has little planets and things, which is featured in their common room!

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I’m convinced that if I were at Hogwarts, I would be a Ravenclaw who also loved plants. I would study botany and herbology, most likely. I’ve already collected books upon books about plants. I might do a post on my collection!

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Outfit 1: 

Dress – TJMaxx

Socks – Target

 

Outfit 2:

Sweater – Thrifted

Skirt – Thrifted

Notebook – Barnes & Noble

 

Outfit 3:

Blouse – TJMaxx

Skirt – H&M

Boots – Too old to remember!

Purse – TJMaxx

 

Let me know if you liked this, I might do more Harry Potter inspired looks!

Talk to you soon,

-Heather