Sunday, 31 March 2013

ModCloth's Spring Dresses

Renowned Repertoire Dress Romance Holiday Dress Beyond the Tea Time Dress Have the Dance Floor Dress

Facebook knows me well.  Nearly every time, the top ad on my page is for ModCloth.  I've only ordered one thing, but I visit the site regularly.  My wishlist is getting a little out of control!  So I thought instead of hoarding such loveliness, I'd share it with you!  Such pretty, pretty dresses...

Top to bottom:

Renowned Repetiore Dress
Romance Holiday Dress
Beyond The Tea Time Dress
Have the Dance Floor Dress

Train Trip Dress
Just Bike Starting Over Dress
Author Outings
Bygone Days Dress in Skeleton Toile

What about you?  What's your favourite place to window shop?  I hope you're all having a wonderful Easter weekend!

Disclaimer: Unfortunately, I am in no way affiliated with ModCloth, as much as I'd like to be for any potential employee discount!

Train Trip Dress Just Bike Starting Over Dress Author Outings Dress Bygone Days Dress in Skeleton Toile

Monday, 25 March 2013

Let's Talk About You

So, for the past almost-five years, I've been writing about house, my projects, my family, my failures and insecurities, my triumphs.  I'd like to start focusing a little more outward.  I want to talk about you.  Do you have a small business?  A dream? A blog? I want to tell my readers about you.  Just send me an email with one photo and about 100 words describing what you're all about.

To start us off, I'd like to highlight my sponsors, whose pretty ads hang out in the sidebar:

Papercastle Art & Photography is a collaboration between two lovely sisters, Julie and Marcie.  Julie is an Edmonton photographer who excels at capturing emotion, and I'm honoured to count her among my friends.  Marcie is a fine artist who creates vibrant and unforgettable images.  Marcie is currently travelling in India with her family (including two very young kids! Brave woman!)


little red hearts, violin, mama, teacher, music

Erika of Little Red Hearts is one of the sweetest, nicest people I know.  She is a violin teacher, a photographer, and a blogger.  Little Red Hearts is a blog full of sweet glimpses of her life at home with her husband and adorable daughter, her passion for music, and her clever creative projects (along with much more).


freelance editor, resume, writer, copyeditor

And then there's me.  It's my blog; I can advertise my own services, right?  I'm a freelance editor (Not an auditor, Grandma E! Although I don't blame her for mishearing, most of her kids are accountants), and sometimes a writer (with a grand total  of one published article to my credit).  I want to seek out more work as my kids get older, so I can eventually make a more than negligible contribution to the household income.


I look forward to learning more about my readers!  If you're interested in more than a quick one-time blurb, check out my sponsors page.

Disclaimer: Businesses featured in this one-time blurb post must be small entrepreneur-type businesses, and have a blog written in a friendly personal style rather than just a business website.  Larger businesses or marketers are welcome to explore my advertising options.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Be Thou My Vision - In Five Minutes (Because I had to keep stopping to stir supper)


Five Minutes Later:

I was cooking supper and trying to remember my favourite hymn.  I couldn't remember all the words, and thought it was a pity that they were stuck inside a battered, taped-up old hymn book instead of out where I could memorize them.  So I put them in a shadow frame.  I think I like the result.

You may be wondering why I've posted very few projects lately.  Well, there are a couple of reasons.  One, projects cost money, or at least require sorting out my jumbled mess of supplies in the basement.  Two, the card for my camera is not working.  Needs to be replaced, I think.  I have to rely on my iPod for pictures these days.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Greetings and Salutations

Dear friends,

With the near death of letter-writing for anything other than business purposes, has also come the loss of introductory greetings or salutations.  In emails, sometimes even business emails, one is lucky to get a "Hi" or "Hello".  Text messages are, of necessity, even worse.  Then there is the end of a letter.  Many do not even sign their names, letting the automatic signature do the trick.  Gone are the days of "Yours truly," "Sincerely," or "Your earnestly devoted friend," (ok, so maybe that one is a bit over-the-top archaic)

I'm just as guilty of this as everyone else.  For years I've signed my name, both in handwritten notes and in emails as "~Joanna".  I may or may not begin with "Hi" or "Hello".

I'm a word-lover, so I think I can come up with more creative greetings than that!  So I'm going to try.  I hope to promote, at least in my own letters and emails, a softer, gentler form than the abruptness I've been using so far.  Language has lost much of its beauty over the past 50-or-so years.

What do you think?  Are proper greetings and salutations something that should be revived?  Or should we allow them a decent burial and move on?

I remain gratefully yours,

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Using Antique Piano Keys

antique piano keys decor

A couple of years ago, I took apart my beloved and battered antique piano.  It was a bit of a white elephant, and with a cracked soundboard it never stayed in tune for more than a month or two at the most.  It was falling to pieces.  So one day I decided to take it apart.  I wanted to save the cherry-wood veneer to use for building furniture one day, and I wanted to do something with the keys, to memorialize this formerly-lovely old piano.  But I couldn't decide what.  So the keys sat in a dusty box in the basement.

antique piano keys clock display

I finally pulled them out and did something with them.  I wanted to make something that I could give to my siblings, most of whom loved this piano as much as I did.  This is how I did it.

  • Step 1: Acquire an antique piano.
  • Step 2: Take apart said antique piano, narrowly avoiding being squished numerous times when large heavy pieces of the piano decide to fall over.
  • Step 3: Reassemble keyboard on a large flat surface, and decide how many keys you'll use for each wall-hanging. 
  • Step 4: Cut off the long wooden piece from each key, leaving just the ivory/ebony section (for the black keys you'll have to leave about 1 cm more, to make them the same length as the white ones).  It helps to number each key at this step to keep them in the correct order, since the gold-stamped number of each key is on the part you're cutting off.  Sand the cut end.  I forgot to do that step.
  • Step 5: Dig through your stash of crafty junk to find just the right backing.  I used 1/4-inch thick cork tiles (from Walmart). I had three left from another project, and they happen to be exactly the right size, when cut in half.  I should have just enough for the rest of the piano keys.
  • Step 6: Starting from the middle and working outward, glue on each piece.  I did all the white keys first, then fit in the black pieces.  Make sure you glue the sides that will be touching other keys as well as the back.  I used white glue.  Use something that can be easily cleaned up if it oozes out.
  • Step 7: Let it dry.
  • Step 8: Figure out how to hang it.  I haven't done this step yet.  Any suggestions?  For now I have it propped on my mantle, but I was thinking of hanging it in a gallery wall sometime in the future.
  • Step 9: Make four more (the other four will be narrower...sorry siblings).

antique piano keys vintage books

antique piano keys

antique piano keys cork diy tutorial

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Introducing the Hero: Chapter 1, part two.


I decided it wasn't fair to leave you with only half of Chapter one.  So I thought I'd post the rest of it.  If you have not yet read the first part, CLICK HERE. Enjoy!

Oliver Livingston paced back and forth in the small antechamber.  A clerk sat bent over a desk by the window, casting occasional glares toward Oliver and his agitated movements.  Two spindly wooden chairs were the only other furniture in the room.  Oliver stopped.  “Will they be much longer?”
The clerk looked up with a sigh.  “I cannot say, sir.  Please, have a seat.”  A seat!  Oliver hated this waiting.  He could have been halfway to the comforts of home that he’d looked forward to throughout this grueling term at Oxford.  Instead his father, at home in bed with the gout, had written to ask him to stop in London to extract his elder brother from the hospitality of London’s gaol.
“Oliver!” His brother’s voice rang cheerily across the room, drawing out the syllables.  Oliver turned toward the sound.  Edmund lounged against the doorframe, one hand resting on the lintel above his head. “Dear God, brother!  You look as if you’re the one who’s been in prison.”  He raked a hand through his hair, apparently much in need of washing, then smoothed it as well as he could. 
“Yes, well, you’re the one who smells like it.” Oliver picked up his coat and shrugged it on.  “While you’ve been playing the fool in London, I’ve been under a double course load.”
Edmund laughed, “You chose your path, my dear Ollie.”
“As have you. Come on then, Ed.”  Oliver pulled open the door to the street and stepped out.   He climbed into the waiting carriage and slumped into his seat, long legs bent awkwardly in the space between the two seats.  Edmund could follow if he chose. 
He was right, Edmund: Oliver was tired, and did not doubt that he looked it. He had crammed as much study into this past term as he could manage, reading law, as required by his father, as well as the science he had wanted to study.  Edmund, a mere thirteen months older than Oliver’s twenty-three years, was first-born, and entitled to the majority of the Livingston wealth and property, as well as their father’s title. Oliver, expected to make his living at law, had from childhood aspired to be a scientist, an inventor. He sighed. Father’s repeated admonishments that, “Science is no way for a  gentleman to earn a living!” had worn down his resolve.  To keep the family peace, he followed the path his father had laid out for him since his birth.
The carriage lurched on its springs as Edmund bounded in.  “Sorry, Ollie, I had a few papers to sign before they’d let me go.”  He sat in the rear-facing seat and rapped on the sleek lacquered carriage wall behind him.  In response, the driver started the horses moving with a jangle of harness and a clatter of hooves on cobblestone.
Beatrix sat, still and quiet in the alcove of her bedroom in the London townhouse, replaying her visit to Mr. Watkins’ offices that afternoon.  He had again gazed at her with his kindly eyes and gave her his bad news.  She was destitute?  How could it be?  Papa had never seemed poor, despite his lack of noble connections.  He was always welcomed in the best of social circles as a well-to-do country vicar.  His parish was prosperous, and their home in the country well-kept, in addition to the townhouse they had rented this spring.  He’d never cautioned Mama to spare expense on Beatrix’s ball gowns and the accessories needed for her debut season.  Yet apparently, he had been hiding his debt, shielding them from his creditors.  Destitute!  What was she to do?
Her eyes felt grainy from crying, and she knew they were red and swollen.  Once the shock had worn away and Beatrix realized her parents really were gone, she had cried for what seemed like weeks.  It had only been a few days since the accident.  In the morning, Beatrix would say goodbye to all the staff except Wallis, who would come home with her to help pack her personal things.  Everything else must be sold to pay her father’s debts.
A soft knock sounded on the bedroom door.
“Enter.”  Beatrix wasn’t sure her tired voice had carried far enough, but the door softly opened.
Wallis peeked her head in.  “Miss Beatrix, you have a visitor.  Mrs. Cumberland.”
“I will be down shortly, thank you.”  Beatrix stood as Wallis retreated.  She walked to the washstand and splashed water on her face.  Its coolness refreshed her eyes, although they remained red.  After drying with a soft towel, she smoothed the skirt of her gown, one of three that Mrs. Randall had sent away to be dyed black the very evening Beatrix’s parents died. More mourning clothing would be needed, but it was a start.  She turned from the washstand and made her way down to the parlour.
Mrs. Cumberland nestled cozily in a chair by the fire.  She, too, wore black, her nicely plump form swathed in yards of rustling black bombazine. She held out her arm to Beatrix and purred, “Oh, my dear girl!  I simply cannot imagine what you have gone through these past few days!  Come and sit with me.”  She patted the chair across from her and settled back into her own.  Beatrix complied, sinking into the chair.  She knew this visit would be just like all the others that she had endured since that horrible day, full of insincere platitudes, condolences, and tactless comments. “You’re so kind to come, Mrs. Cumberland,” She murmured.  The woman was a neighbour here in London and had been her mother’s friend.
“Oh, I simply couldn’t stay away.”  Mrs. Cumberland graciously accepted the cup of tea offered by a maid.  “Especially since I’ve confirmed those dreadful rumours!” She sipped her tea and set it on a delicate-looking side table.
“Rumours?” Beatrix had heard nothing of rumours during the brief visits of her society friends.
“Of course dear! That you’re penniless!  Many will stay away because of it, child, but I owe my duty to your sweet mother, not to the prejudices of snobbish society.”
Beatrix gazed down at her lap, absently twisting a bit of lace on her gown with restless hands. She hadn’t yet considered the impact her new situation would have on those she considered friends. “Yes, well—“
Mrs. Cumberland interrupted, “I’ve come to offer you a position.”  She sat back, satisfied to let her words sink in.
Beatrix looked up, “A position?  What am I fit for?  Mama raised me to one day be a lady, but I have no practical skills.”  She held up her smooth, pale hands, callous-free and unused to hard work.
“Which makes you perfectly fit to be a lady’s companion, dear girl!” Mrs. Cumberland leaned forward again in great excitement.  “ Not for me, of course.  I have a friend, a widow, who lives in the country and would very much like to have the company of a young girl to brighten her lonely days.”
“I don’t know, Mrs. Cumberland.  This is so sudden.”
“Well, I don’t suppose you have anywhere else to go, do you? Not once that little cottage is closed up and sold.”  The older woman handed Beatrix a folded sheet of stationary that smelled faintly like lilacs. “Here are Lady Dorothea’s terms and direction.  You may write to her at your convenience to let her know if you accept and when you will arrive.  You know, Lady Dorothea is normally very selective about her staff, but she has agreed to take you on as a personal favour to me.”  She rose from her chair and leaned over to kiss Beatrix’s pale cheek.  “I do hope you will embrace this opportunity.”  Turning, she swept out of the room.

Written by Joanna Clark Dawyd.  Please do not copy or repost without permission from the author.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

A Regency Tragedy

In much of my childhood writing, my characters' parents die.  It may have been my interpretation of the whole "write what you know" thing.  In any case, it was my go-to plot point.  One memorable book series I planned involved a 13-year-old girl named Jordan (I was 13 when I wrote it, big surprise), losing her parents in a plane crash, so she goes to live with her aunt and uncle and three cousins and future best friend Julie on a dude ranch in Colorado.

Apparently, I'm still writing about orphans.  Here is my latest, a selection from the first chapter of my first attempt at a Regency romance that I started last fall to get a bit of a break from the political research required for my medieval work-in-progress. (Someone suggested I may have ADD...I think my track record in writing speaks for itself in that particular matter).  Enjoy!

[By the way, my melodramatic, moralistic, and clichéd chapter titles are done on purpose.  The book still has no title.  Oh, and I did not intentionally give my housekeeper the same name as Mr. Darcy's housekeeper.]

In Which a Young Lady of Quality is Cast Destitute upon the Mercies of the World

“Miss Beatrix, you must sit still or you will never be ready in time!”  The maid scolded her mistress as she gently and skillfully pulled an ivory comb through the bouncing golden curls.
“I am simply excited, Wallis!” Beatrix gave another bounce on the stool before her dressing table. “Edmund--Mr. Livingston, that is--has asked me to save him the first and last dances on my card this evening.  Can you imagine?  Humble Beatrix Collins dancing with the Earl’s nephew?  A future baronet?” She smoothed the organza skirt of her dress. “Mama is so pleased with him.”
Wallis laid down the comb and started with the hairpins. “There’s nothing so amazing in all that, miss.” She spoke softly as she skillfully pinned Beatrix’s hair into a Grecian style. “You may only be a vicar’s daughter, but your dear mama is descended from very good blood.”
“I know, Wallis.  But Mama’s relations don’t quite compare to a baronet, especially since they disowned her for marrying Papa.  A baronet in hand is better than a viscount or two in the bush.” Beatrix winked at Wallis in the mirror as she butchered the idiom.  “So it is exciting.”
“Yes it is, I’m sure. You’ve had a wonderful first season since we’ve been in London, and I hope you enjoy this last week before we leave again for home.”  Wallis added one last pearl-tipped hairpin and stood back to check her work. “I believe you are ready.”
Beatrix bounced up off her stool and shook imagined creases out of her dress. “I do hope Mama and Papa arrive home soon.  I don’t want to be late and miss my first dance with Edmund!
“Mr. Livingston, you mean.”
“Oops, yes, sorry Wallis!  I’ll be a proper lady tonight.”  Beatrix leaned close to the mirror inspecting her face.  “I do believe all my freckles are gone.”
The clatter of carriage wheels on cobblestone sounded distantly from the street outside, stopping abruptly.  Beatrix turned and caught up the pelisse that lay waiting on the bed. “That will be Mama and Papa.  I must go.” She dashed from the room, pulling on the coat as she hurried down the stairs.   She slowed at the landing, trying to descend in a more ladylike fashion.  The footman who answered the door was deep in murmured conversation with a stranger.  Where were her parents, Beatrix wondered.  The men turned toward her as she reached the last step.
“Miss Collins—” The footman cleared his throat. “Miss Collins, this is Mr. Watkins, your father’s solicitor.  He would like a word with you.”
“But this is highly unusual…” Beatrix studied each man’s face, looking for some explanation.  “Where is my father?”
Mr. Watkins bowed regally. “I regret that we must meet under such unconventional circumstances, Miss Collins.  Your housekeeper, Mrs. Randall, has graciously agreed to chaperone.  Will you speak with me?”
Beatrix’s worry only increased as her question was ignored, but she squared her shoulders and took a breath. “Very well, sir.  The parlour will be satisfactory for our meeting, I trust.”  She swept by him with a  rustle of her skirts.  Mrs. Randall followed her into the parlour and took up an unobtrusive station by the door as Mr. Watkins entered. Beatrix wordlessly gestured to a settee, herself perching on the edge of a hard chair, feeling as if she would take flight. 
“What can I help you with, Mr. Watkins?  I am expecting Papa any moment if you would prefer to wait for him.”
“Dear girl,” The man settled into his seat with  a sigh and a grunt. “It is about your poor Papa and Mama that I have come to speak with you.”
“Where is Papa?” Beatrix heard a note of panic in her voice as she repeated her question. “And Mama?”
“Your parents have met with an accident this afternoon on their way to the Seminary.”  Mr. Watkins’ grave expression irritated Beatrix.
“What has happened? Are they hurt?”  She stood and paced back and forth as she asked.
“Mr. and Mrs. Collins have both died of their injuries.” Mr. Watkins pulled out his handkerchief and mopped his brow. “I am so sorry, miss.”
Beatrix heard the words but could not realize their truth.  She expected to cry or scream or faint, but simply felt cold inside.  She rubbed her arms, looking over to Mrs. Randall.  The older woman had silent tears wetting her cheeks and dripping on her neat black dress and clasped hands.  When Beatrix next spoke her voice was quiet and still. “Please tell me everything, sir.”
“They were on the road to the Seminary as I mentioned, miss.  To hear that lecturer.  A group of young bucks—nobles, really—raced by, spooking your father’s carriage horses.”
“Impossible!”  Beatrix furrowed her brow, confused. “Papa’s carriage horses were the steadiest in London!  He trained them himself.”
“Even so, miss.  ‘Tis true.  The young men rode most imprudently, nearly crashing their own mounts.”
“Have they been arrested?”
“They have, thanks to some excellent witnesses.  A Mr. Robert White, and that young Livingston fellow…what was his name?”  Mr. Watkins shifted in his seat, stuffing his handkerchief back into his pocket.  “Edmund.  Yes, Mr. Edmund Livingston.”
Not Edmund!  “When may I see my parents?” Beatrix’s voice quivered, betraying a small crack in her calm demeanor.  That Edmund could be responsible for her parents’ deaths—it was inconceivable!
“You may accompany me to the morgue at once, miss, if you wish.” Mr. Watkins pushed himself to the edge of the plush settee and lumbered to his feet.
“Yes. Yes, I will go.  Thank you, Mr. Watkins. Beatrix stood and the pair walked to the door, now held open by the housekeeper.  Outside the door, Wallis waited, her shawl around her shoulders and bonnet tied securely under her chin.  She handed Beatrix her own bonnet and gently wrapped a shawl around her mistress’s trembling shoulders.
“I will go with you, Miss Beatrix.  You should not have to face this alone.”   Her eyes conveyed all the sorrow she felt, and that her mistress could not yet feel.  Beatrix simply nodded and the two women, one young and one not so young, followed Mr. Watkins out to his waiting carriage.

To read the rest of this chapter, CLICK HERE.

Written by Joanna Clark Dawyd.  Please do not copy or repost without permission from the author.
Linked at: lizmarieblog