Yarn Bomb!

This weekend, I decided to organize my yarn collection, once and for all. I don’t have a ton of yarn… but I don’t exactly have a paltry amount, either.

This was the result when I had all of my yarn out in my living room.

Click to see larger.

Now, I know this isn’t a yarn bomb per se, but it does look like part of a yarn shop exploded there.

So yes, I did organize my yarn. I allocated some of it to patterns I want to make. (I have a bad habit of buying random yarn I like without a specific pattern in mind, which leads to the yarn just sitting around and accumulating without being made into something.)

I also made something last night. Yes, this cowl can be made in an entire evening, it goes so quickly. It’s crocheted, which helps. I crochet a lot faster than I knit!

It reminds me of the desert!

We had off from work on Friday due to snow. The snow was so beautiful that I went outside to admire it. We had a good 3-4 inches, from what I’ve heard. Of course, it’s almost all melted now, but it was gorgeous on Friday.

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A Cute Bird

One of the local library branches near where I live has parakeets. Yes, you read that right. There are actual parakeets at this library and they are adorable. They live in a cage in the children’s section and surprisingly enough, the kids seem to behave around them. The librarians help keep an eye on them, from what I’ve seen.

One of the birds is so adorable that I had to take a few pictures of him. He chirped the entire time.

Isn't he cute?
Isn’t he cute?

One of the many reasons why I always go to this branch is so I can see this little guy. Seriously, if the librarians didn’t keep such a close watch on him, I’d be tempted to slip him into my pocket and take him home with me! Too bad I need to get some writing done today—otherwise I’d go visit him later!

A Fascinating New Website: ‘A History of Russia in Photographs’

This link comes from Paul at the excellent Royal Russia blog, one of my favorite websites to read since it combines two of my favorite things (history and imperial Russia). There is a new website available called “A History of Russia in Photographs.” Now, the site is in Russian and I don’t see an English option, but you can still look at it even if you don’t read Russian. The first time you go to it, there’s a button you have to click on a little pop-up window welcoming you to the site. The button is brown and says Перейти к просмотру and if you click on it, the site loads. You can click on a year on the timeline at the top of the page and see photographs from that year.

This site looks really cool and I can’t wait to explore it further once I have some time this weekend!

A Tsar In Imprisonment

Last week, I posted about a photo of Tsar Alexander III and his family. In the photo is Nikolai Alexandrovich, the tsar’s son who later became Tsar Nikolai II (more commonly known as Nicholas in English). The photo I want to talk about this week also has Nicholas in it, but many years later, towards the end of his life. (It should be noted that he was in pretty good health at the time of his death and probably wouldn’t have died for many more years, had he not been shot in the head by a firing squad.)

Click to see larger.
Click to see larger. Source. Courtesy of Beineicke Library at Yale University.

In 1917, Nicholas made the difficult decision to abdicate the throne. Originally, he was going to abdicate in favor of his son, Alexei (pictured above in the photo), but since Alexei had health problems (he had very severe hemophilia, which could not be treated at this time) and he feared that the boy would be separated from his family, he abdicated in favor of his brother Mikhail, who was next in line to the throne after Alexei. Mikhail wanted no part of being tsar, though, and so he refused to take the throne.* After ruling Russia for three hundred four years, the Romanov monarchy came to an end.
Continue reading “A Tsar In Imprisonment”

A Tsar’s Family

I’ve been reading a lot of nonfiction about the Romanovs recently. I think they’re my favorite dynasty and they ruled my favorite country (which is the Russian Empire), aside from my native country, of course.

Last night I was reading about the Romanovs on the internet (because apparently reading books about them isn’t enough!) and came across a photo of Tsar Alexander III and his family. Alexander III was the father of the last tsar of Russia, Nicholas II. Here’s the photo.

Click to see larger.
Click to see larger.

When I read the caption on the original site of who everyone was, it kind of made me sad. I just finished reading Virginia Rounding’s excellent book Alix and Nicky in which all of these people were talked about. The photo was taken in 1888. Thirty years later, by 1918, many of these people were dead.

Alexander III is the man seated in the middle with the little girl on his lap. He died unexpectedly of a kidney disease in 1894 at the age of forty-nine, leaving his eldest son Nicholas to become the tsar of Russia. By all accounts, poor Nicholas didn’t feel up to the job. Alexander’s wife, Maria Fyodorovna, is standing behind him. She’s the woman on the left with her hair piled on top of her head. Surprisingly, she survived the Russian Revolution and ensuing Civil War and returned to her native Denmark (she was a Danish princess before she married Alexander). She died 1928 at the age of eighty.

Now we come to the tsar’s children. The boy on the left standing in front of Maria Fyodorovna is Mikhail (or Michael, if you prefer the English version of the name). He had a bit of a falling out with the family when he married a woman he wasn’t supposed to marry (she was married to someone else when he began having an affair with her and eventually she got divorced so she could marry Mikhail). I can’t fault him too much, though, since her name was Natalia! Anyway, poor Mikhail was executed on Bolshevik orders in 1918, about a month before his doomed older brother, the tsar, was executed.

Standing behind Alexander III is Nicholas (Nikolai in Russian, but everyone in the English-speaking world seems to call him Nicholas). He was the oldest son (and oldest child) of the tsar and therefore inherited the throne. I was thrilled to see him in this photo because I’ve never seen him this young! He’s nineteen or twenty here and doesn’t have that characteristic facial hair he had later in life. He also died in 1918, along with his wife, children, and four very loyal servants. They were victims of the Bolsheviks too, of course. He was fifty years old.

The little girl sitting on Alexander’s lap is Olga, his youngest child. She survived the Revolution and ended up living in Canada, where she died in 1960 at the age of seventy-eight. Her sister, Ksenia, who’s standing next to Nicholas in the photo, also survived. Ksenia ended up in England and died there in 1960, aged eighty-five.

Finally, the young man seated on the right is Georgy. As Nicholas’ younger brother, he was tsarevich (heir to the throne) until Nicholas had a son, which wasn’t for a while. (Remember, Nicholas had four daughters before he finally had a son.) Unfortunately, poor Georgy died of tuberculosis in 1899 when he was twenty-eight. Nicholas found out the news and had to tell his mother, who was understandably devastated.

Anyway, I hope that sheds a bit of light on this photo. It’s just sad to think that when they posed for it, the family didn’t have much longer to be together—and obviously, they didn’t even know it.

A Trip To Arizona

Dear readers, I have been remiss in my blogging. Earlier today when I walked past a car with Arizona license plates (I don’t live in Arizona, so I don’t see that very often), I was reminded of a trip I took to Arizona last year that I never told you about. I went to Tucson for a few days and had a great time. Here’s some photographic evidence of the trip.

Tucson 1 This is a cactus in the hotel parking lot. I’ve lived east of the Mississippi River my entire life (except for college and grad school, but I don’t know if that counts because I knew it was temporary), so seeing all the cacti was kind of amazing. There were so many, everywhere! There was one particularly fat one by the side of the road that blocked my view as I tried to make a right turn. It may not sound that funny when I write it, but trust me, I was completely cracking up in the car when it happened. I wish I’d been able to get a photo of the cactus, but unfortunately, driving and taking pictures with my phone do not mix…

Tucson 2

There’s another view of the hotel parking lot. I don’t usually think of hotel parking lots as particularly exciting, but I’m telling you, the cacti made it very fascinating.

Of course, a trip wouldn’t be complete without shopping, so I went to the mall one afternoon. It took me forever to get there because of all the lights. I think there was a way to get there on the interstate (I-10 if I remember correctly) but I was too unmotivated to figure it out. The mall was really nice. I bought a drink at Starbucks and wandered around for a while.

Tucson mall

My one piece of advice to you if you want to move to Tucson is this: do not, I repeat, do not live anywhere near the Air Force Base. My hotel was near the Air Force Base and believe me, those planes are LOUD. The first time I heard one, I had just stepped outside to walk to my car and I thought we were under attack or something! Trust me, you don’t want to be anywhere close to those planes when they’re flying. I do have to admit, though, that they were pretty cool to see. I wish I’d been able to get a few pictures.

Anyway, as a result of this trip I can’t wait to go back to Arizona. I’d actually love to move there, but unfortunately there seems to be a lack of jobs in my field. Hopefully I’ll get lucky and something will open up in the next few years so I can move out there. And then I can post cactus pictures on my blog all the time until all my readers are sick of them. 😉

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Note: I’ve tried to create a little gallery of these photos plus two extras (also taken in the hotel parking lot) using some nifty WordPress features. I hope it actually worked!

A Weekend In Pictures

I hope all of you are having a good weekend. I certainly am—and I have photographic evidence to prove it. I’ve been working on some knitting. I finished one dishcloth and I’m making an identical one now for my mom. Assuming I have enough yarn, it’ll look exactly like this.

dishcloth
Isn’t she pretty?

I also made some cake-in-a-mug on Friday night. It snowed here for several hours on Friday, but nothing really stuck. It was gone by early Saturday morning. (Thank goodness, because I don’t know how to drive in snow! Nobody does where I live.)

cake in a mug
It tasted even better than it looked!

And last, but not least, I had an exceptionally good practice session with my violin yesterday. You know when you practice something—music, sports, crafts, art, etc.—and you’re having one of those days where everything is just working really, really well? That’s what yesterday was like. I played the A major scale and the first movement of the Beethoven Violin Concerto and it all went very well.

beethoven violin concerto
It’s such a hard piece that I actually had to pencil in the names of the notes in a few places!

Luckily, there’s still a number of hours left before I have to go to bed so I can get up for work tomorrow, so I’ll probably practice and knit again. But I won’t eat another mug cake, even though I’d really like to.

How has your weekend been so far?

Merry Christmas

I know things have been slow around here recently, dear readers, but rest assured I haven’t abandoned you! The holidays just have a way of diverting one’s time from blogging to other things.

(And that hand injury I had last week didn’t help. I lifted something heavy and strained my hand, which impeded my typing abilities for a bit, which is a disastrous thing for a blogger!)

Enjoy this photo of a lovely tree. I borrowed it from this Pinterest pin. By the way, since I’ve been doing crafts more often this year, I am completely obsessed with Pinterest.

Click to see larger.
Click to see larger.

I hope everyone has a happy holiday!

A Cute Dog For Sunday

I’ve had an amazingly productive weekend, everyone. I don’t know if it has to do with the extra hour we gained due to Daylight Saving Time ending, or if the constant rain made me stay busy inside so I didn’t get bored, but I’ve done a lot. I wrote, I read, I played violin, and I even studied for the professional certification exam I want to take.

Now I’m just relaxing, so here’s a photo of a cute basset hound for you. My mom sent it to me.

Isn't he adorable?
Isn’t he adorable?

Have a good rest of your weekend, everyone! I’m planning on getting up early tomorrow to work on editing my novel. What are your plans?

A Pumpkin For The Season

I saw this fabulous pumpkin at the grocery store recently and couldn’t resist taking a picture. It was huge!

Click to see larger.
Click to see larger.

Keep in mind how big it is in relation to those flowers in the top right. The thing was almost $150!

Pumpkin in Russian is тыква [tykva]. My Russian professor told me that pumpkin pie isn’t really a thing in Russia; however, I’ve managed to find a few recipes* in Russian for тыквенный пирог [tykvenniy pirog] (that means pumpkin pie). Maybe in the Soviet era no one ate pumpkin pie and things have changed. After all, my professor left Russia many years ago. Or maybe it wasn’t a regional thing where he lived.

Anyway, I’m trying to learn more Russian vocabulary and I thought it would be fun to share it on the blog. Hopefully it’s interesting to readers, even if you aren’t learning Russian!

*Note: no, I have never made anything from a Russian recipe. I’d love to but the recipes from there always use the metric system and we use a different system in the United States.