A Link to the Past

Link to the Past WIP 1, originally uploaded by Charlotte Copper.

I’ve finished the lettering on my Link to the Past cross-stitch progress. The pattern I created using PC Stitch called for colors that are a lot more, ahem, vibrant than those I used, including a neon apricot, bright tangerine, and a light brown. I didn’t like the sharp contrast of those colors, so I chose darker, more muted shades in the same family, and I think the result has a lot more depth than otherwise.

I’m really happy with how it looks. Now for the Master Sword and background. Can I finish it before I leave to Spain on Saturday?


Moleskine Planner Hack


I have a trail of dead behind me… well, dead planners, I should say. I have bought planners to help keep me organized as far back as the 7th grade, but every year without fail, they would fall into disuse and get scrunched, scratched and dropped by the wayside. Each of these planners had in common a variety of features I never used, not enough of those I wanted, and in addition were usually made of flimsy, ugly materials.

I don’t know why it never occurred to me to make my own planner in all those years. Maybe I was just hoping that out there, somewhere, an ideal planner lay in wait for the day I would snatch it up and we would blissfully twirl off into the sunset together.

In the fall of 2007 (I remember this because it was an epiphany, really) I saw Lea’s homemade planner. She had printed out dates onto strips of paper in a pretty font and pasted them into a lovely lined notebook. I was bowled over by this new idea. All the planners I’d bought previously weren’t up to snuff, so why shouldn’t I make my own? With some fear and trepidation (I was venturing into unknown creative territory here) I bought a lined  notebook at Austin’s BookPeople and proceeded to print my paste my way into an inferior imitation of Lea’s gorgeous planner. I used the planner for two months before I realized it wasn’t right for me–and I turned to Google to help me build a better planner.


In my search, I found this insanely useful post which inspired me to finally break down and design my own planner.

My first iteration was pretty much the same as in that post: a plain black Moleskine notebook, into which I pasted sheets of cardstock to serve as dividers between sections. The sections were a monthly calendar, a weekly planner, and then the remaining pages became a section for lists or other information. The great thing about this planner was that I actually used it! I have come to the end of it and realized that aside from a few tweaks here and there, I love everything about it:  how customizeable it is and how it meets my needs without superfluous features.

Weekly View

So now it’s time for version 2.0. Here are the specs:


  • Red, unlined Moleskine (found at BookPeople as well).
  • Pretty scrapbook paper from Michael’s. It’s heavy like cardstock as well.
  • Stabilo point 88 colored pens, in very light grey for the lines and then an accent color. Darker Stabilo pens tend to show through the Moleskine paper  (the darker colors actually bleed through), so the lighter the color, the better, imho.
  • Ruler, pencil, and glue stick – I made a template for the measurements rather than measure each and every page.


  • Monthly Calendar – I didn’t paste two pages together in 2.0 because I wanted more pages at the end. I also created a grid which can accommodate months spread over 6 weeks, so that two dates don’t have to share a square.
  • Weekly section- I moved my “expenses” section to the end. It still has a line at the top to announce the dates of the week, and another line for week-long events. Day-long events get written at the top of each day.
  • Expenses Tracker – I omitted the list section in this version because I keep a small notebook as a catch-all for lists and immediate information anyway, and instead created a section to track the money I spend and the food I eat.


So that’s my new personal planner. That last picture is of a final detail I decided to add: rather than just writing the section names, I created little labels for them out of the leftover scrapbook paper. Enjoy, and let me know if you make your own!

Zelda Cross-Stitch Update

My grandparents left yesterday, and so I don’t have quite as much progress as I’d like on the Link to the Past cross-stitch. I do have letters! and the beginnings of the Triforce! Here’s hoping I can finish this baby before leaving to Spain in a week. I’m also planning my next major cross-stitch design, this time with Super Mario!

Zelda Title WIP1

And a gratuitous close-up.

Zelda WIP close up

See you soon!

A Link (Stitch) to the Past

So for the past couple of weeks I’ve been obsessed with cross-stitching video game images.

zelda cross stitch

What started as a perusal of the Subversive Cross Stitch pool on Flickr quickly morphed into an obsessive exploration of the Geek Craft pool, and an introduction to the SpriteStitch blog and forums. There, I discovered instructions on how to cross-stitch my very own video game images. After much debate and deliberation, I chose the title screen for Zelda: A Link to the Past.

I really want to do a cool Chrono Trigger cross-stitch, with all the characters from the game in the portal of time, but I have to go and take a screenshot of that when I play through the game again. There’s also a Super Mario composition in the works, what with items and pipes and Yoshi and coins to consider! I’ve got a few picture frames perfect for some small Nintendo icons as well.

If you guys have any suggestions (or screenshots!) you’d like to see me do, feel free to send ’em my way!

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Life of Pi Cover

I finished reading Life of Pi last night. I’d read it about five years ago, while still in high school. It’s the story of a boy, Pi Patel, who gets shipwrecked on the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger. There were many parts of the story that have stayed with me over the years.

“The reason death sticks so closely to life isn’t biological necessity–it’s envy. Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous possessive love that grabs at what it can.” – p. 6

I love how the story is at once utterly believable and entirely fictional. I love how it questions the nature of religion, belief, unbelief, and love. It’s beautifully crafted and so fun to read.

What a start! I’ll start on Vanity Fair next!

Contemplating A Challenge

bookshelf, originally uploaded by chotda.

After graduating a few weeks ago, I rediscovered substantial holes in my literary and intellectual history. I have always been aware of books I have not read yet, or read entirely. There is always something new clamoring for my attention, books to read for class, etc. They softly taunt me from my bookcases. I gave myself a week or two of unbridled laziness after the end of the semester, and decided that a routine needed to be established. And books are the perfect way to do that–structuring your day around reading time. Since my dear friend Melody accused me of never updating my blog (I can’t blame her), I’m revisiting this old haunt to present myself with a challenge over the summer: read 20 books or novels in the span of 3 months.

Twenty books seems like a perfect challenge. Some books on the list are short to keep the long ones from being too overwhelming. Some are fun and easy, others challenging and dense. It’s always enjoyable to pleasure-read, isn’t it?

So, without further ado, the list of 20 books I hope to read from June 1 through August 31 2009, in no particular order:

1. The Life of Pi – Yann Martel
2. Empress – Shan Sa
3. Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
4. Little Dorrit – Charles Dickens
5. The Uses of Enchantment – Bruno Bettelheim
6. The Phantom Tollbooth – Norton Juster
7. The Gastronomical Me – M.F.K. Fisher
8. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
9. Inkdeath – Cornelia Funke
10. Mythologies – Roland Barthes
11. Istanbul – Orhan Pamuk
12. Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman
13. She – H. Rider Haggard
14. Chronicle of a Death Foretold – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
15. The Displaced Legion – Harry Turtledove
16. Assassin’s Quest – Robin Hobb
17. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
18. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
19. The Unbearable Lightness of Being – Milan Kundera
20. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey

The list is somewhat subject to change, but these are the ones that jumped out at me when I scanned my bookshelves. Anyone who wants to play along is more than welcome to!

Splitting Personalities

What with the pace of the semester, writing in my normal journal, and keeping pace with my travel diary, my little online presence has faded some. I can make any number of excuses, but the reality is that I am frankly unable to manage my time properly. That, and writing/communicating essentially 4 different versions of a single adventure feels a bit like rotting my brain. (I tell my parents, Marquis, my travel journal, and any other inquisitors about my adventures).

But to anyone who is interested, I’ll lend you my travel journal with all my impressions and mundane observations (I’m being dutiful on that front, I promise!) so you can read all about it! I have yet to catch up to the present date, but I’m much closer than I was when I started. I’ve written all about my first month and a half in it, and all I’m missing are my trips to Newcastle and London, as well as the fabulous earthquake of 08 and other little trivialities.

Granted, the reason I’m posting this at all is because I simply, for the life of me, can’t figure out an essay topic for an essay due on Wednesday. I’m torn between writing about handwriting in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, or tableaux vivants in Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband. It’s nearly midnight, I’m behind on my readings, and so after exhausting cross-links on blogs I like, I’ve resorted to writing.

Friends, I promise an email on Wednesday or Thursday. 🙂

And does anyone have any ideas about time management? I’m kind of frightened to google search, lest I be sucked in to a 5 hour vortex of links.


I’ve got to admit, it’s getting better…

Dear Friend,

Whew! Has it been a long and arduous week. And now commences a new one, bright and early, with a lecture at 9:15. And I’m up, ready (mostly) to go, and eating some really lovely Greek yogurt.


Last week was cruel and hard, as I said, because of having to switch to a new section of my class, as well as coming down with the worst stomach bug I’ve ever had. Generally making me feel very unpleasant, and not wanting to move or do anything.

But the time has come! I must make up for lost time, and diligently begin to work hard this semester. I had started off well, until the sickness came in, which essentially made me useless for 5 days.


I figured I would show some photos, since I’ve been neglectful on that point recently. The first photo is of Clifford’s Tower, the site of York’s worst massacre of the Jews in history. It happened in the 1200’s, and is still remembered. The Tower is lovely to look at, though, and it stands in the middle of a traffic circle.

The second photo is of Julie and me at the edge of the River Ouse, which flooded this past week. Clearly this happens frequently, because one of the pubs had just built up a wooden entrance ramp to let its customers in, despite the water.


Finally, this photo was taken on a bridge which looked over into a little garden. The beautiful thing about it are the red berries, and the building that’s made both of brick and stone. The stone building clearly was a personal chapel of some kind, as the window style usually indicates such, and the serenity of the little garden just makes me want to hop down there and bask in sunshine. Of course, when there is sunshine. 😉

Sincerely, Annemarie


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The Organization (wo)Man

Dear Friend,

I am totally obsessed with stationery, notebooks, and organizing. I spend hours online reading how to increase my productivity by doing this or that, how to “hack” a planner, ie. create a planner out of a regular notebook, and all sorts of things. I love to accumulate pens, organize my shelves and alphabetize my books, put things in categorical boxes, and plaster my wall with calendars. I love to tidy things up. That’s just how I roll.

Granted, I tend to accumulate lots of notebooks and office supplies that only get half-used, and spend much more time planning how I’m going to get things done rather than actually doing things. Marquis sometimes gets frustrated when I say “I’ve gotta do this” or “I need to plan how I’m going to do that.” “Why don’t you just stop planning and do it?!” he says. Much as I love the look of a long to-do list, the man has a point.

I spent the past few days surfing the internet, finding the ways to create my perfect planner. I made one for myself in early November, so although I’m motivated to create my dream planner again (with all sorts of improvements), the notebook is too new, too empty to set it aside for a fresh planner. That Moleskine notebooks are so expensive in England deters me a bit more than the possibility of the fresh and new start of 2008. In any case, I’ll need a new one at the start of the next academic year in August.

So for now I just wanted to share the links that inspired me this morning, and now I’m off to the library to print out articles concerning Oliver Twist, so that I may at least accomplish what I ought to. Or I’ll sit for the next two hours reading about GTD (Getting Things Done).

Looks like I’ve stumbled upon one of the new self-help movements. Hurrah!

Yours, organizationally,


Moleskine Hack 1 by AK

Mike Rhode’s Creating A Custom Planner 

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