Monday, October 20, 2008

Blogs of Interest

I spend way too much time on the Internet. But I find the most interesting blogs.

The Steampunk House. A while ago, I wrote about the Steampunk Aesthetic in this blog. Well, here's a whole blog dedicated to it.

DarkStyle. Most of my favorite Goth style sites--well, they've been inactive for some time now. But I found a new one! Great source for inspiration and DIY



I've had some inspirations as of late. I really did enjoy doing this blog and at least few people seemed to like it. I'm done with the temporary full time work I had and find I have some free time to work on this again. We'll see. But I will say the upcoming holiday season is rife with enchanted possibilities.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Summer's Over

And I'm not what to make of this project. Of all my blogs, it got far and above the most hits. But it seems no one is reading it now. I'm not sure to count that as a success or a failure. I was hoping that maybe I could expand this project into something more---a book, a community, guest writers, etc. But then, I always tend to dream big.

I'm keeping this blog up for now. We'll see if the poll gets any responses. I probably won't be able to write here as I go back to work next week. All my writing efforts will probably go into DoI. Who know though...maybe I'll try again next summer? Maybe sooner?

In the mean time, enjoy what's here. There may be more...eventually....

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Updates and a Poll.

I have some articles in the works. In the mean time, I've been playing around with the gadgets on this site. I added a gadget that should make it easy to subscribe to whatever feed you use to keep track of your blogs. I added the fairy of the day artwork because I thought it was cute.

I've also added a poll. I'm curious to see if a)people actually are interested in this blog and b)what in particular they are interested in. So please, if you like the idea of this blog take a second to fill out the poll on the right. You can select as many answers as you want. So if want me to cover all those topics, then feel free to select them all. I'm going to leave up for all of September, so if you want some time to think about it you can.

Anyways, there will be some more on styles and interior design in the coming months.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Would you like a little Steam with your Punk?

What can I say? I love the Steampunk aesthetic. It takes my love of Victoriana and combines it with my love of technology. It definitely fulfills the Enchanted Life philosophy of transporting you to another time and place. If you don't know what Steampunk is, I suggest you check out Brass Goggles. It's a blog about all things Steampunk, including modded computers like this one.

Looking for more? You might want to check out some Steampunk inspired movies such as The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or Steamboy. You may also find some inspiration the pages of graphic novels such as The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (which is better than the movie) or The Five Fists of Science.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Offbeat Bride

You may have noticed I always mention weddings in my list of things that can be done in the Enchanted Style. That's because I love weddings. My first job was salesgirl in a wedding & formal gown store. And besides, I can't think of anything more enchanting than two people who are truly in love promising to spend the rest of their lives together.
However, as I learned on my job and when I planned my first wedding, sometimes it becomes less about that and more about the "what you are supposed to do". Which isn't enchanting at all.

So, if you are a bride-to-be or a groom-to-be who's more about the "being married" part and have definite (or not so definite ideas) on the best way to celebrate that, may I suggest Offbeat Bride by Ariel Meadow Stallings. Best of all, it comes in three great flavors of book, blog, and community. The book is what started it all and if you can get your hands on it, it is a highly entertaining and comforting read for any married person-to-be. The blog is chock full of great ideas (or wedding porn!), advice, and advertisements for vendors who carter to brides and grooms who like to think outside the box. The community is full of all sorts of offbeat brides and grooms from a wide variety of other communities including geeks, gamers, goths, hippies, Wiccans, artists, enviromentalists, and well, just about anyone you can think of.

So whether you planning a magic fairy theme or chic cyberpunk theme or just want to make your traditional wedding more your own, I highly recommend trying out Offbeat Bride.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Poem

Yes, I've fallen in love with polyvore. I love scrapbooking and this is like the ultimate online scrapbook. I hope you like the poem, I thought it captures the spirit of the Enchanted Life quite nicely.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Inspiration Boards

Inspiration Boards are simply collection of graphics that have a related theme. They are great when planning a project. You can grab images of things that inspire that project or objects you might like to use in such project. Inspiration Boards are great for planning, whether its for a party, a wedding, a room, or even a house.

There are lots of ways to do an inspiration board. They easiest is probably to copy and paste pictures from the web (or scan or your own photos) into a program like Microsoft Word or Powerpoint. If you have graphics program, like Adobe Photoshop, you could use it as well.

Or, you could try Polyvore. This site has a little applet you can install that lets you clip images to it. You can then use those to create an inspiration board or you can draw from the thousands of pictures that have been clipped by others. It's easy and fun. The interface is pretty simple and lets you search pictures by keyword, category, or even color. My only complaint about it is that it doesn't seem to handle photographs very well. Still its lots of fun. Here are some boards I did:

Ideas for a forest themed living room.

Ideas for renaissance Midsummer's Night Dream Wedding

If you are interested in trying out Polyvore, I've even started a group there for those of us into the Enchanted Life.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Henry Ford: Furniture and English Cottage Style

For those of you who don't know about it, The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village in Dearborn, MI is an awesome place to go and experience history. Part of the Enchanted Life is looking toward the past for inspiration. Not only is it a place to learn about history, both the museum and the village provide opportunities to be inspired for your own house.
The museum has a huge collection of cars, trains, and planes. But it also has collections of jewelry, pewter ware, old stoves and my favorite, the furniture collection:

Greenfield Village is also an amazing experience, with a variety of living history exhibits, as well as several hands on crafts for the kids (and grown ups too). However, for inspiration, one doesn't have to look any farther than the collection of historic house that have been decorated as accurately as possible. A walk around the Porches and Parlors District is a cornucopia of examples of period style from the 1600's to 1930's. My favorite is Cotswold Cottage, an authentic English cottage. Of course, on my last visit, I took tons of pictures.
And if you like tea, the cottage is also a "tea house" and the tea is served in nice fat teapots covered floral tea cozies.

My other favorite spot at the village is the Herb Garden. It very much has the feel of a "secret" garden:

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Playing Dress Up

It figures. I say I'm going on hiatus and then the next day I get brilliant idea for a post. I thought I'd write about playing dress up as it has been a favorite hobby of mine for as long as I can remember. When I was little, my mother created dress-up trunks for my sister, my brother , and myself. These were old, large trunks filled with old Halloween costumes, old prom dresses and garage sale finds. So when playing pretend or putting on plays, my siblings and I always did it in costume.

So it follows, when I had a daughter of my own it seemed only natural for her to have her own dress up trunk. Hers if filled with many more store bought costumes than mine was. My mom caught a sale at the Disney store, so she has every princess costume there is, complete with some very nice wigs. I also discovered that you can get Halloween costumes dirt cheap if you buy them a few days before or a few days after Halloween. Originally, I used a small trunk I bought on sale at Hobby Lobby, but it got a bit beat up. On a recent trip to Ikea, I came across these. They are made out of fabric and Velcro and work a lot better than the wooden trunk I had before.

So yesterday was a rainy day, which made it a perfect day for a fashion show. Here are some pics:

Of course, as from the first picture, you can see I've never really grown out of dress up either. After all, I can't think of a better escape from the mundane than putting on a fabulous outfit. And the great thing is, there are all kind of excuses now for adults to play dress up. My favorites are Renaissance Fairs and Conventions. There also event like the Labyrinth of Jareth. I've never attended but have heard it is amazing from those who have. Recently, I came across a great blog, called Your Fantasy Costume. It's definitely one to watch if you like fantasy costumes.
However, sometimes its fun to do to a mini-dress up with your everyday clothes. I've been known to wear this top and vest with jeans. If your looking for "fantasy" style clothes that you can blend with everyday where, try The Pyramid Collection, Hot Topic, or if you're little on the curvier side, there's my favorite store Torrid.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A Short Hiatus

I've been spending a lot of time trying to get things going here and at Dusk of Innocence. Despite my best efforts, I'm not getting a lot of traffic. I'm not really sure what to do. My purpose with the Enchanted Cottage was to share my thoughts and ideas and connect with others who had similiar leanings.

And its not like I haven't been trying. I hate spamming, but I've basically spammed every message board I belong to. The problem is that I'm so busy trying to promote DoI and the Enchanted Cottage I haven't been able to actually work on them. So, I'm taking a two week hiatus from the blogs. Hopefully, this will give me time to clear my head and work on actual content for them (say like starting the Fairy House). And if there is actually someone reading this and you have thoughts about how to get people to check out DoI or the Enchanted Cottage, please let me know.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Letters to the Fairies, a variation

If you've read the Fairy mailbox post, but find yourself lacking a place to put such a thing, don't despair. My daughter has come up with an interesting way to write to the fairies and all it requires is a sidewalk and some sidewalk chalk.

Sidewalk chalk is fun, even when you aren't writing to the fairies. For a little extra decoration at your next door party, use the chalk to draw pretty swirls, flowers, or vines on a sidewalk or patio.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Enchanted Styles

A big part of the Enchanted Life is how you decorate your house. Hopefully, by the end of summer I can take some photos of the cottage to show you my own enchanted styles. But in the mean time, I thought I'd discuss what styles work with the Enchanted Life and which ones don't.

In general, styles that work well in the Enchanted paradigm are those styles which take you to another time or place. They are styles that contain a richness and depth to them. They are less about clean simple lines and more about presenting a feast for the senses.

Over the course of this blog, I hope to go into each of these styles in detail.

Styles That Fit with the Enchanted Life
  • Victorian

  • Renaissance

  • Medieval

  • Gothic

  • Rustic Country

  • Shabby Chic

  • Asian

  • India Inspired

  • Middle Eastern

  • Art Nouveau

  • Garden/Natural

  • Georgian

  • French

  • Fairytale

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Book Review: Tiny Treats

A few weeks ago, to celebrate the end of school, the fairies brought my daughter the book Tiny Treats by Julia A. Monroe. The books shows how to make tiny, fairy-sized, edible food from other foods. This books is great if you are going to put on a fairy picnic or tea. The food is just the right size for our fae friends, as well as yummy (for the most part) for our human ones.

The book is listed at 8+, but my six year old daughter seemed to be able to do most of the recipes we tried with just a little help. The food is adorable and for the most part very easy to make. I will admit some of the combinations sound less than appetizing (in particular the sandals made from Nutter Butters and Fruit Roll-Ups). But of everything we tried, we liked.

My only other complaint is that some of the instructions are little vague or could be improved upon in small ways. For instance, we made the tiny watermelons on pg 19. The instructions tell you to put the lime halves your using as the outside of the watermelon into a muffin tin so they don't roll around. Well, they still roll around. I found that if I cushion them with paper towels first, it makes it easier to fill them with watermelon jello insides as well as move them to the fridge to set.

We also tried the sub sandwiches on pg 18. However, I couldn't find the breadsticks they suggest, so we used small dinner rolls instead. Also, my daughter is not a fan of pepperoni, tomato, or onions. So, we used her favorite sandwich stuffs instead, cutting down pieces of chicken and ham to fit on our tiny buns.

A friend of mine tried the Jelly Roll on pg 30 and said that is a great and easy snack that kids can make themselves. My daughter and I also tried the perfume bottles on pg 41. This is a great recipe for younger kids if you just use slightly larger candies. In my daughters case, I used Jolly Ranchers (though be careful, some stand upright better than others).

We also made the hats on the same page. These are lots of fun to decorate. My only advice is that if you want to cover the tops with Fruit Roll-Ups that you do that before you frosting the tops to the bottoms.

However, my favorite recipe in the entire book is the tiny cakes on pg 34-35. They are so very simple to make--just two sandwich cookies frosted together, then covered in frosting. And like the hats, they are lots of fun to decorate. More over, I can see lots of uses for these beyond fairy picnics. They would make great treats for school or favors for a party. And the little wedding cake that's made the same way on pgs 36-37 would be adorable at a shower or even at a wedding.

Overall, I thought this was a great book for kids and adults alike. While the instructions could be more detailed, the pictures are great. And the food is fun.

The book is available through the American Girl website or in local book retailers.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Kids Project: Fairy Mailbox.

If you have young children (or even older ones) who believe in fairies, this is a fun, ongoing project you can do with them. A fairy mailbox is a special mailbox that kids can use to write the fairies and receive messages from them.

The idea originally comes from Cultivating Sacred Space by Elizabeth Murray. In the chapter on her own garden, she mentions a knotty hole in one of her trees that the neighborhood children use as a fairy mailbox to send letters and small gifts to the fairies (as well as receive them, sometimes). So when I moved into the enchanted cottage, there was an old mailbox in the backyard that my mother had put there as a birdhouse. A light bulb clicked and I knew it would make a perfect fairy mailbox for my own daughter. She loves it and checks it everyday in case the fairies have sent her something.

For ages 2 and up, with adult participation.

What you'll need:

Old metal mailbox, or other weather-proof paintable container
Primer for metal (or whatever material your mailbox is made out of)
Paint, various colors
weather-proof varnish
various ribbons and lace
bells or wind chime
metallic ink pens (available from scrap booking supply stores)
fairy treats (see instructions)

Prime the mailbox for painting. Explain what a fairy mailbox is to your little one. Then, together, paint the mailbox however you want. You can paint flowers, fairies, animals, plants, stars, hearts---whatever motif you think the local fairies will like. And you can use whatever method you like best. In my daughters case, we used sponge shapes she got in a painting kit to put flowers and birds all over the box. However, you could use stencils or decals or just freehand designs. Afterwards, cover the box with the varnish to preserve you paint job. Tie the ribbons and lace on the handle of the mailbox to create a decorative pull to help the fairies (and your little ones) open it.

Next, find a spot outside where you can mount the mailbox so the fairies can find it. An old tree trunk works well, or you can use a post. In our case, the box was already mounted on a pole outside so we painted the post as well. Hang the bells or wind chimes nearby. The fairies will like to fly by the box a lot and that way you'll be able to hear them.

For letters from the fairies, use paper that has the edges artfully torn. You can use ordinary computer paper, just carefully tear off the edges to make the paper seem more rough. Write the letters addressed to your child (or children) with the metallic ink pens. If you can, use a fancy script print (or cursive if you child can read it). Write about the things going on in your child's life (latest trip to Grandma's, school activity, favorite toys, etc). As an extra touch, use the pen to add glitter trails (make * all over) or tiny fairy footprints. Originally, I signed these letters "the fairies" but my daughter began to ask what the fairies' names were. So now they are signed with a fairy name (such Daisy Starshine) and the rest of the fairies. The fairies also like to leave presents, usually in the form of a small piece of candy, stickers, or some other small trinket. On special occasions such as birthdays, they like to leave something bigger.

Encourage you child(ren) to correspond with the fairies. Younger children can draw pictures and older ones can write notes (great writing practice by the way). And they can leave presents for the fairies too, such as flowers, leaves, shells, or pretty stones.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Inspirations: Movies

Let's face it, even the most imaginative people are inspired by other things. For me, books, tv, and movies are the biggies (as I'm sure they are for most people). So here's a list of movies that helped inspire the whole Enchanted Life. Some are aesthetic, some simply more emotional/mood-setting. They are all about letting a little magic into your life, in some way or another. (Note: If you want to look any of these up, try IMDB)

Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Harry Potter
Practical Magic
The Dark Crystal
Dangerous Liaisons
Immortal Beloved
Sleepy Hollow
A Little Princess
The Last Unicorn
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
The Craft
Dangerous Beauty
The Phantom of the Opera
Moulin Rogue
Romeo + Juliet
Fairy Tale: A True Story
Last Samurai
Pride and Prejudice
Ever After
Shakespeare In Love
Like Water for Chocolate
Spiderwick Chronicles
Interview with a Vampire
Bram Stoker's Dracula
Kingdom of Heaven
Hamlet (Kenneth Branagh version)
Much Ado About Nothing
A Midsummer's Night Dream
The Neverending Story
Pirates of the Caribbean
Pete's Dragon
Mary Poppins
Bedknobs and Broomsticks
The Princess Bride
The Chronicles of Narnia
The Illusionist
The Prestige
The Wizard of Oz

Just about any animated Disney movie, but in particular:
Beauty and Beast
The Dark Cauldron
Sleeping Beauty
Snow White
The Sword in the Stone
Peter Pan
Nightmare Before Christmas

Also add to that the works of Hayao Myazaki:
Princess Mononoke
Howl's Moving Castle
Spirited Away
Kiki's Delivery Service
Porco Rosso
Castle in the Sky
NausicaƤ of the Valley of the Wind

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Enchanted Life Philosophy

I thought I ought to cover what exactly the Enchanted Life philosophy entails. While the Enchanted Life is a primarily a lifestyle, there is an underlying philosophy.

Put simply, the Enchanted Life is about bringing magic into your life through the way you live. Too often, we get caught in up reality--whether it be financial, family, personal, social, or whatever problems are plaguing us. Unfortunately, we often get so caught up in our problems that they dominate other aspects of our life. Now, we can't hide from problems. If anything we need to face them head on and deal with them. However, we can't let them take over every aspect of our lives either. I guess that's really the basis of the Enchanted Life, bringing magic into your life to keep the problems from taking over, making them more manageable in the long run.

I want to clarify, that the term magic is not the same as magick--the term used in Wicca. While I am a practicing Pagan, the Enchanted Life is not a religion or magickal system. Ideally, it shouldn't matter what your religion is, the Enchanted Life should be for anyone who embraces their imagination. Its a lifestyle and when we talk about magic, we are talking more about feelings than a mystical "force". When I use the word magic, I'm talking about the mood it invokes. I'm using it along with words like whimsy, fantasy, delightful, romantic, charming, fairy-tale, dreamy, and of course enchanted.

This means that there will be lots of motifs that evoke those words: fairies, unicorns, fair maidens, sorceresses and wizards, dragons, and all sorts other mythical and fairy tale creatures. Likewise, there are certain historical periods that lend themselves to the Enchanted Life: ancient Greek and Roman, Medieval and Renaissance, and Victorian.

So what kind of things can one hope to find here? Craft projects, recipes, party ideas, decorating ideas, activities, clothing ideas, gardening ideas, and sources to make it all happen. Oh, and probably more posts like this one that explore the philosophy behind it all.

For now, enjoy!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

A Cool Design Web Site

I love interior design. I watch all those home improvement shows on HGTV and TLC constantly. I've decorated my house in the enchanted style (and yes, there will be posts about it).

So, when I came across the DesignMyRoom site, I was in 7th heaven. It lets you design rooms using existing products. I may post some of my designs here when I get the chance.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

About My Yahoo Group

A while ago, I created a Yahoo! Group called Serena's Ideas. I'm an obsessive right-clicker and have folders full of pictures of things I like. I created the group as a way of sharing them with other people. There are decorating ideas, wedding and party ideas, and some graphics that are great for Pagan/Wiccan scrapbooking. I also have a small section on costume ideas too.

The group itself is pretty inactive. I think people mostly joined to get access to the pictures and the links (there is a great link list there too). Anyways, I thought it might be of interest to people who come and read this blog as well. It used to have an open membership (ie you didn't need approval to join), but the spam got to be too much. So, it requires approval from to me to join, but I don't really care who are as long as you promise not to spam it.

Monday, June 2, 2008

My Other Summer Project

Hi, my name is Danielle and I'm amateur writer, among other things. I work as a substitute teacher during most of the year, but that means I have my summers off. I always try to find something to occupy my time during the summer, a project if you will. Well, this blog is going to be my summer project.

I live in an enchanting little lakeside cottage. It's enchanted, in part by its location, but also by all the work I put in to decorating it and all the fun projects I try to come up with for my daughter and myself. I hoping to post these here as the summer goes on. I like to introduce the rest of the world to an enchanted lifestyle, full of fairies, magic, nature, and all sorts of other wonderful things!

Like I said, I'm an amateur writer and I do have another writing project going on. Its a novel called Dusk of Innocence and can be found here at Elfwood. It also has an associated blog here at LiveJournal, though if I like blogger enough I may move it here.