Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Claire Joy Powell

This isn't exactly NEW news, but just to remind everyone: I am an aunt!! My sister and brother-in-law, Katie and Jeremy, recently added their beautiful daughter, Claire Joy Powell, to our growing family. Claire was born on the morning of Saturday, January 7th, weighing 7 lbs even, at a height of 19 and 3/4 in. She is a happy and healthy baby. We are all in love with her dimpled skin, rosy cheeks, and humorously voracious appetite. Praise God for a new life brought into the world. May He guide and protect Katie and Jeremy as this little lady grows!


It is clear from the date of my previous entry that I have abandoned posting for several months! The only excuse I can provide is being preoccupied with a heavy coarse load during my final year of college. Last semester was more work-intensive than semesters past, but naturally, I enjoyed laboring over my papers and projects in spite of its demands (what can I say? I love to study!)

I am back at school a bit earlier than most undergraduates; Messiah has an optional J-Term in which intensive, four-week courses are offered to students who wish to lighten their course load for the spring semester. I have participated in J-Term for 2 out of my 4 years (last winter, I studied abroad), and this year, I have returned, not to take a particular course, but to work on my English Honors Project. It is a research project, essentially, that involves investigating a certain topic in literature and presenting my findings in a 40-50 page thesis. I think I am also expected to give an oral presentation but I haven't yet discussed this with my project adviser.

The topic I have chosen for my research is 19th-century British Women's fashion in the novels of George Eliot, exploring these titles in particular: Daniel Deronda, The Mill on the Floss, and Middlemarch. I am so thrilled to be able to incorporate two of my greatest passions: literature and the visual arts! The overlap of these two fields is astonishing, particularly in the context of the Victorian Era. Women's fashion was affected by changing conceptions of beauty throughout the century that were manifested in both novels and art, particularly the works of Pre-Raphaelite and Aesthetic painters. It was the Pre-Raphaelites who emphasized a return to natural, rather than artifical beauty which clothing styles frequently reflected. Many wives of the Pre-Raphaelite and Aesthetic painters were inspired to reject the rigid, shape-defining styles of the time, and began to popularize more loosely-flowing, shapeLESS gowns. You can imagine this had an impact on the perception of women in society and their socially-defined roles! In the meantime, much of these changes are reflected in the clothing styles of Eliot's characters. It's downright fascinating, especially since Eliot was in such close proximity to the Pre-Raphaelites (she was actually friends with Edward Burne-Jones and his wife!).

I could go on to discuss the topic even further. In fact, I could discuss it all day. But rather than bore you, I will leave you with a some imagery to display precisely what I am writing about. I will be happy to share the final product of my paper when it is finished.

Helen of Troy by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Ophelia by John Everett Millais

P.S. VOGUE magazine's December issue has a surprisingly informative article on Pre-Raphaelite and Aesthetic art and fashion. It has been an excellent resource for my paper. You may want to read it for a clearer understanding of these art movements and the ideologies behind them. I will try to find a link and post it soon!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

"Shoot for your dreams...even if they're covered in sequins."

I got a phone call from my aunt this week, who, knowing my interest in fashion, told me to check out this film clip from NBC's Today Show: Jenna Bush Hager interviews the head designer for "J.Crew" whose name is Jenna Lyons. Coincidentally, my name is Jenna too. Perhaps it is a sign that I should drop what I am doing and simply design clothes for the rest of my life?? That's a lofty goal - but who says it can't be a hobby?

P.S. After watching this video, I phoned a local seamstress and I signed up for sewing instruction. I said to myself, why not? In the very least, I'll be capable of sewing buttons back on a jacket.

What's your secret dream job?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Scone Posting

Today I tried baking scones for the very first time and, what do you know? My efforts were not a disaster! The scones taste delicious, although I wished they had "fluffed up" a bit more, like the ones you see in all the recipe books and in all the English bakeries.  I used a modified version of this recipe from "Joythebaker.com." I didn't have any dark chocolate and orange zest so I simply used what I had on hand - golden raisins.  Next time, however, I will undoubtedly try the dark chocolate and orange as suggested!

Here's the recipe:

Orange and Dark Chocolate Buttermilk Scones

makes four large or six small scones

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 teaspoons orange zest

2 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter

1 large egg yolk

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold buttermilk

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Place rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, sift together flour, sugar, orange zest, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. I use my fingers to rub the butter and dry ingredients together. In another bowl, combine egg yolk and buttermilk and beat lightly with a fork. Add to flour mixture all at once, stirring enough to make a soft dough. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Turn out onto a floured board and knead about 15 times. Roll or pat out into a 1-inch thickness. Cut into 4 large or 6 small squares. Place on prepared baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees F for 12-15 minutes. These are best when served immediately with butter and jam.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Spring Cleaning

A recent bout of spring cleaning has inspired me to get creative with some of my old garments and craft supplies. Here are a few DIY projects I've been trying:


A tremendously trendy remedy for recycling old t-shirts! All you need is your tee of choice, and a sharp pair of scissors. For full instructions check out "PSImadethis.com" (http://psimadethis.com/post/117053343)

Lauren Conrad's spring fashion line includes light-weight tees with pretty floral designs. They are being sold for the outrageous price of $34.00 - at Kohl's nonetheless! (which is, in my opinion, a notoriously poor-quality department store). Instead of getting ripped off, I decided to paint my own pattern of roses on a clean white tee-shirt using fabric paints.

Ever since the headband trend hit the U.S. and beyond, I've been eager to create some headbands of my own! These ones I created from strips of fabric that I rolled into rosettes and secured with hot glue. I'm thinking of selling them on ETSY.com ? What do you think?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Here's to the Happy Couple.

Certainly the most lavish, regal, wedding I've ever witnessed...and perhaps the sweetest! Call me eccentric, but I have no regrets about waking up at 4 am to watch the ceremony on TV. Prince William and Princess Kate appear to be a truly lovely - and loving - couple! How precious is this photo of the newlyweds surrounded by all the flower girls and "pages" ?