& the slipper still fits

May brush set

Brush Set #006May 2011 Photoshop CS4+
Doodles and squiggles are always my favorite, but what happens when they're never large enough for the project you're working on?That's where this new set comes in! Here are 11 brushes made just for you. They vary is messiness and lightness so that you can set the exactly the tone and depth you need. Also able to be used as masking brushes, this set is sure to have you light flaring your next project to the nines.

Brogias Season Sum-up (part 2)

Episode 3: The Moor

We quickly realize that Rodrigo has much more in mind than just the papacy for his own lifetime, even if he himself does not fully realize it. He plans to make Cesare a cardinal in Orsini’s place and begins looking at powerful alliances he can make through the marriage of his children. To bring in more money, Rodrigo allows Jews in to Rome for a fee and agrees to sponsor a Turkish Prince, Cem, for a nice sum.

After being whipped by Cesare, Micheletto goes to della Rovere and asks to be of use to remove the Borgia stain from Rome. Della Rovere, seeing the proof of Micheletto’s whipping (a la lemon juice)* agrees to use the assassin in his plans. And bingo! Cesare has his spy exactly where he wants him! And then its ruined not 10 minutes later when Micheletto botches an assassination attempt on della Rovere and gets himself seen too -- all the way in Naples.

Lucrezia and Cem become very close, likewise Cesare and Cem come to a mutual respect and understanding, prompting the Turkish prince to reject his religion and homeland and wish to become a Christian.^ But, he’ll never get the chance. Juan (the middle brother and consequently the one who can never do anything right) gets a hint that killing Cem would get Rodrigo not just his lodging money, but also hush money. Juan, since Cesare will not allow him to use Micheletto, finds a second-rate assassin and poisons Cem—badly. A slow and painful death ensues. Cesare, furious with Juan’s bumbling, makes him finish the job. Rodrigo gets all the money he wanted, plus some.

This is also the episode with the infamous “gallant dinner knife” dialogue between Cesare and Lucrezia.

*There’s a nasty little rumor too that della Rovere “like the male torso”; this, however, is never expanded upon in later episodes.
^Here’s the thing, Cem is a sweet boy and his brother wants him gone so he won’t contest the throne. Ultimately his conversion would have been open war with the Ottoman Empire (I think that’s the right term during this time period), thus when Juan has the boy killed, it not only helps his Turkish brother by eliminating an heir for his throne, but will also buy the Borgias a great deal more money to have facilitated his death.

Summaries for Episode 1 & 2

The Borgias: A Season Sum-up (part 1)

Wished you watched The Borgias this season? Caught a few episodes and were totally lost? Need to remember the highlights, but don’t want to spend time wading though painfully long dissertations? And just plain don’t want to rewatch the hour-long episodes? Well, I’m here to give you the short, annotated version by episode of the 9 episode season – with pictures, quotes, youtube links, and more!

Download the full blow-by-blow here; or read in installments. Episodes 1 & 2 below.

Episodes 1 & 2: The Poisoned Chalice & The Assassin

The Borgias season begins with Rodrigo Borgia begging, borrowing, and simonying his way into the most holy of holy offices.* With the help of his eldest son, Cesare (pronounced Che-zA-ray), outside the Vatican, Rodrigo is able to buy just enough votes from the college of cardinals during conclave to become Pope^. While he does become the living embodiment of God on Earth, he does make some serious enemies in Cardinals Dei Cattanei, Orsini, and della Rovere who viciously oppose a Spaniard becoming pope, and one powerful ally in a Ludovico Sforza.#

We learn quickly that while Rodrigo is the head of the family, Cesare is most certainly the brains. A reluctant man in the cloth, Cesare desperately wishes a different life for himself; however, his strong loyalty to his family chains him to his pre-determined life. Cesare is the type of man who can see the larger picture. Thus, while his father sees the throne of St. Peter’s as the culmination of his life, Cesare sees past his father coronation to the problematic life which will soon surround them. Before and during his father’s election to the Papacy, Cesare fiercely protects his family: always watching over this hot-headed and foolish brother Juan, and lovingly nurturing his little sister Lucrezia.**

Once Rodrigo is crowned Pope, Cardinal Orsini (who royally puts his foot in his mouth) throws a banquet in his honor. At the banquet, where all the Cardinals are present, Cesare notices some suspicious activity (which had something to do with a monkey metaphor) and goes to investigate, while prowling the kitchens he meets Micheletto, who will become the Papacy’s assassin for hirer. Ready to prove his loyalty, Micheletto betrays Orsini and gives the cardinal the poison intended for the Pope, killing him; he also takes Cesare to halt the attack on the rest of the Borgia family later that night. (Later he is whipped, at his own request, to prove his loyalty.)

As Pope, Rodrigo is also confessor to a select group of individuals: first his son, who in explicit terms tells his father everything he had to do to make him Pope and states that the fact he can do these actions must mean he is not meant for the cloth – Rodrigo refuses his request to leave the church; second, is Giulia Farnese (pronounced Julia Fon-nay-say): a rare beauty who fled her husband’s house after having an abortion. Rodrigo—for lack of a better term—takes pity on her and gives her Orsini’s villa which is connected through secret tunnels to the Vatican. And with whispers of Rodrigo and Giulia’s relationship funneling through the Vatican and Rome itself, della Rovere sees his time to act. Which backfires, and there’s that whole dead girl in his bed that makes him flee Rome thing at the end too.

*This includes paying in gold, property, and food; threatening others, and bargaining top offices in the new Papal government.
^Alexander VI
#Ally might be a strong word. The Sforzas have a great deal of land and are connected throughout Italy, but really what Rodrigo needs is Ludovico’s vote.
**Do I subscribe to the Cesare/Lucrezia love fest? Okay, yeah. Please tell me one person who doesn’t? It’s more that these two look so pretty together and Arnaud always has this face when looking at his sister that makes these two a pairing.

Lines that grab you - Craft time!

Its almost summer and its time to get crafty! Which is why I'm sharing one of my favorite organizer crafts. They're really quick and easy to make, and are a huge statement with your favorite pieces of classic literature.

What are we making? Why, literary clothespins dear reader! As you can see, I've magnetized mine so that they can keep your notes handy anywhere. I use them on my blog idea board, and they always keep my lists nice and organized and right where I need them-- all while highlighting my favorite Jane Eyre and Persuasion lines!

What you need
1. A cap-full of water and some wax paper
2. Plain old white glue
3. Scissors
4. Pencil
5. Q-tips (a few)
6. The page/paper with your quotes printed on them
7. Magnets
8. Clothespins! (as many as you want to make)

The first thing to do is outline the clothespins on your page. Now, normally, I just photocopy my favorite pages and use the photocopy. That way, you're getting just the pages you want and you're not ruining a book. This craft time though, I had been give a really rough a tumble version of Persuasion that was falling apart. Instead of just tossing it out, I took a few of my favorite pages and decided to use them. 

Just place the clothespin on top of your selected writing (normally you can fit 3 lines horizontally on a pin) and outline the clothespin with your pencil. You can be exact, but remember that you'll be cutting the paper strait, so little bubbles in the tracing won't matter. I also like tracing the text on a diagonal. I think it adds lots of interest and you often can get a better sense of the dialogue from your selected page.

Above all, the most important factor in tracing text is to pick the text you really want to see every time you open the fridge or clip on a list. Picking my favorite lines to use is always the best part for me.

Once you have the clothespin traced you want to cut out your selected text. Make sure to cut the paper a little long (long, not wide); we will trim the ends later. You can see on the left what the final product looks like.

Now we're ready to make our own modge podge. This, is super easy to do. Really, all modge podge is is watery glue. That's why we have a cap full of water. Add a little to your glue and mix it well with one of you Q-tips.

Once its well mixed, take a Q-tip of glue and brush it on the top of the clothespin, including in any of the depressions. You want to put enough on top for the pin to be well covered, but not too much that your paper will turn into a soppy mess.

Now you place your cut-out paper on the glue covered pin and smooth it down. You do want to place another brush of glue on top of the paper. This will help the paper to stick and will make the whole clothespin much more durable with the added decoration. Again, you don't want the glue to be soppy, but you want a good amount. When in doubt, always make sure you can clearly see your text through the glue. Take your time, the last thing you want is your text to smudge.  

Using the middle of your Q-tip, press your paper into all the depressions on the clothespin. Normally there are three: one where the metal suspension connects, and two decorative ones on the end of the pin. Once you've pressed the paper down, smooth out any funny marks in the glue and let the paper dry. It can take anywhere between 30 minutes and 2 hours. As you can see, the ends are MUCH longer than they will be with the final product.

I love the added depth and texture that pushing the paper into the clothespin depressions makes. It might mess up a little of the text, but what it does to a few letters, it makes up for in over all look.

While your clothespins are drying, feel free to cut your magnets into thin strips. I used an old promotional magnet and didn't even have to spend a cent on it. You want the magnet to be roughly the same width as your clothespin and go down its whole length.

Once your clothespin has dried, you want to cut the extra ends. I cut just enough to fold a little over on each end and glue them down for a nice clean look. When you're all done, it should look like this:

The last thing to do is glue on your magnet! I just use the same modge podge glue mixture we've used before, brush it on my magnet with my Q-tip and stick it on the back. Let it dry about as long as you let the front, and you're all set to go!

And there we are! Literally -- lines that grab things for you. I've yet to have a problem with them falling apart, and I stick TONS of paper in them. Likewise, I always have my favorite quotes all around me. This is truly a readers type of craft. I hope you try them! Of course, if you'd rather have me make a batch for you --Etsy girl!-- well I can do that too.

If you liked this post, you may like Scones from the Austen Bakery, or Austen-esque Ornaments

REwatch REcap

This spring, dear reader, has been one of my absolute favorites for rewatching. And, now that the first day of summer is fast approaching and the Spring!rewatches are over, I feel like its a perfect time for reflection on the 4 REwatches we rocked via twitter.

FIRST: I've got to thank my rewatch ladies who made these possible and fantastic! @CaseeMarie (I SO could not have done these without you!) @DarbyDashwood @LadyRelaynie @So_Meow @SheBlog @Mu5icRomancer . Ladies, you're the best and never let anyone tell you different.

#REsuasion was the first of the rewatches simply because--and I do not say this lightly--it has to be my favorite of all adaptations. There is just something about this one: I can't put my finger on it, but this Persuasion, even with its textual changes, even with its event shifts, just makes me unbelievably happy. As much as I do love my Pride and Prejudice, my North and South, my Jane Eyres, I simply cannot get past the fact that whenever I just feel like watching a beautiful costume drama, I pop this one in my DVD player. 

#REsense was next, and it was fantastic. We all got silent whenever Brandon spoke, we all adored Edward and Elinor, and we were all so talkative during this rewatch. This was the first big rewatch, with more of us participating and gushing over one of our favorite costume dramas. This is also the rewatch the brilliant and fantastic Casee Marie joined me in co-hosting.

#REanger is one of those short costume dramas and is too adorable and too time friendly not to watch. It was also one many of the rewatch gals hadn't seen. Luckily, its an easy one, too, to get our little costume fan hands on, and we were off to the races. Northanger is that brilliant mix of humor, Gothic undertones, and classic Austen romance. As Austen's first novel, hints of her later characters abound. If you are careful, and rewatch it a few times: you'll find the seeds of Darcy, Elizabeth, Caroline, Fanny, Edward, Wickham and Willoughby amongst others.

#REpride is how the rewatches (for me) began and how they ended this spring season. Every beginning of Spring I rewatch the epic '95 version, and as the twitter rewatches got underway, there was no way P&P '05 was going to be left out. Sometimes the best dish comes from other costume drama fans, and boy were we dishing last night! Emma Thompson's connection, the complete textual changes, Orlando Bloom's twin....it was all in there dear reader! Don't you wish you'd joined us?

Now the rewatches are not going away. Not by a long shot! They now will be featured in fycd's week of costume, which occurs for a whole week once a month in the summer. A week of costume is a feature on the tumblr: Anything Period where I only post photos from one costume drama for a whole week. Last summer we did: Pride and Prejudice, The Young Victoria, and Marie Antoinette.

So, this means that if the week of costume is Pride and Prejudice focused, we will be rewatching Pride and Prejudice for the rewatch. I know it might sound silly, but with summer being busy for everyone, I think one rewatch a month will make the anticipation all the more fun. The first week of costume begins June 20. Pencil in June 24 for the next rewatch! What will we be watching? Well, we'll just have to wait till June 3rd to find out!  

Casual Fridays - OOTD

Casual Fridays are a staple at my workplace; actually, its one of our favorite perks. And while I love getting to wear jeans to work, I'm always very careful not to go too casual. Now, if you knew where I worked, you might begin to wonder...but in any job, a surprise drop in by a very important person is always a possibility. And the last thing I want is to be remembered as is the "too casual" girl.

I'm sure I have a few of my readers wondering -- why are we doing an Outfit of the Day posting? Yes. This is new for me too. But, with my new found-style blogging freedom -- something I didn't have a few weeks ago -- I though, why not?! And Fridays are always fun days for me to try new fashion things, so I'm trying this OOTD thing out for the next few Fridays. Should we see how it goes?

If you haven't figured this out before, which is entirely possible, I really don't talk about my style often, I'm a huge fan of the Hamptons/nautical feel. I'm addicted to strips and I love navy. Hence, much of what I wear is so inspired. I haven't been feeling all that dapper (ie - that's why I look expressionless in these photos) due to some hideous allergies hitting the mid-Atlantic, so I went for the comfy beach look today.

Shirt & Sweater: American Living, JCPenny; Jeans: Ana, JCPenny; necklace: Sweet Romance; Flip flops: Old Navy
Dark wash jeans are the foundation of my look today, and these ladies and gents are petites. I used to think that longer jeans were a good look, but really, all they did was make me swim at the feet. Now, I buy the right proportioned jean and I feel so much more confident in them. My top is a knit with a wider horizontal stripe. To add the comfort factor, I throw on a very heavy knitted sweater in cream. This sweater is the key to the Hamptons look for me, and makes a casual top and jeans into an outfit. Does it make me look at little thick on top? Well, yeah, but with the sweater itself thicker, I tend to think it balances out. My issue area will forever by my hips, so I tend not to dwell on my top as much. I finish the look with my Edwardian lockets and some blue flip flops and head off to work for the day.

On the blogging note: I'm not sure how much I like that the OOTD is all about...me. LOL. Or if dear reader, you like reading about what I wear. I do follow many more fashion blogs in the background though, so we're still going to try this on for size and see what happens. Don't worry, a more Jane Austen-centered post is on the horizon too.

Pride and Prejudice Fanmix

In celebration of the rewatch this Friday, I've mixed together some of my favorite current songs that always remind me of Pride and Prejudice. Mixing music, for connecting my favorite songs to my favorite books is something I've been doing forever (even before Ms. Meyer made it popular). And for me, Pride and Prejudice is a mix of alternative jazz for the heavy parts, and upbeat alternative and pop for the lighthearted parts. After all, if the Bennets were a modern family, I think Kitty and Lydia would make the rest suffer through some pretty awful teeny-bopper pop.

My favorite pick on this mix is Adele's "Rollin' in the Deep". Its one of my favorite songs for Darcy's rejection by Elizabeth. And yes, I still listen to Dashboard Confessional. I got to see them last year in concert and they still rock, dear reader. 

To give you just a hint, quite a few of the songs relate toward Darcy. Well...that angst is more the music I listen to, but I'm sure you can pick out the bright Bennet spots too. 

If you would like to listen to all the songs, hop on over to 8tracks. You'll even find a few other mixes I've made. 

Don't forget #REpride is this Friday starting @ 8pm EST!  

a little more inspiration

A few weeks ago, I talked about inspiration; and while that post wasn't a post about finding inspiration, this one--is. My never-fail, espresso-like jolt of inspiration always comes from music. I don't think I've ever heard a song I haven't day dreamed to, and that means I have lots of story lines that bubble up the minute a familiar beat starts blaring.

Now I'm the first to admit that I never like anything when its popular: I'm almost always the first to scoff and the last the know. Which means, my songs choices, really, aren't current. But these are songs that seem to infect my soul, and certainly have set the tone for key moments in my storyline writing. And when that writing is ready to be read dear reader, you'll be the first one to know just where these songs fit.

Florence & the Machine - Howl
Not listening to Florence when she was spammed across my tumblr 2 months before I "discovered" her is one of the biggest mistakes of my year. On her CD Lungs, I've yet to get sick of a song. I've listened to the whole thing continually for at least a month, and the entire discography has reached, and far surpassed, my top played on itunes. Drumming Song is my personal anthem for Cesare and Lucrezia; My Boy Builds Coffins is my favorite; Raise it Up: my King Midas-centered song; and Blinding is the song that's really grown on me. But Howl--Howl has a very special place in my literary heart. Now I don't connect Howl with werewolves--monsters yes, but not werewolves. No, this song single-handily fed me the inspiration to pick my pen back up and start writing Wickeds (working title) again. I was driving my car and the song was playing and before I knew it, I had the scene I could never get past playing in my head. 

Rihanna - Disturbia 
If Howl got me writing Wickeds again, Disturbia was the story's conception. I can't say much about it since it would give, well, a lot away, but lets just say Mood Board 1 connects to it all. At first, I was in this whole Repo!The Genetic Opera phase, but as the words began to flow, Disturbia started making more and more sense for my main character: in her world, light does come from a city of wonder, and darkness is light...

Lady Gaga - Monster
Lady Gaga tells a fantastic story, despite how you feel about her. With Monster, I didn't have to make up so much the story, as follow the outline set by her. What if the man you loved was, in fact, a monster? Not one who changes with the moon, or burns (or glitters) in the sunlight, but just as terrifying. What if he turned you against your "smarter friend". The story that goes with this song is my guilty pleasure, and every time I hear it, I get that irresistible urge to open up the word doc and click the keys. 

Follow the link to 8tracks to listen to all my inspiration songs.

Last REwatch of the Spring Season

When: May 20, 2011 @ 8 pm EST
Where: Twitter: #REpride
look for @heatherfrances, @caseemarie, @Ladyrelaynie, @darbydashwood, @sheblog, and @so_meow
Who: Everyone!
Why: Its Pride and Prejudice dear reader! It isn't often that we get to spend 2-3 hours completely GUSHING over Mr. Darcy. You know, with other people... This is the last of the Spring!Rewatches for the season, so join in now before its too late! You know you want to!
Incentive: Wallpapers, gossip, and tons of Jane Austen fun await. Need I say more? Like last time, stop by Rusty on facebook for a special wallpaper.

The Heirloom Heiresses are in!

The Heirloom Heiresses are open for business!

My mother and I contantly talking about how we need to start our own little shop. Of nicknaks, lovelies, and crafty little things. After researching, and thinking, and talking about it for ages: we finally opened our own little Etsy shop, filled at the moment with doilies. We'll be expanding soon, but take a look and see if there's anything you like!

Happy Mother's Day

It's Mother's Day here in the States and as a celebration, literary style--well mostly literary style, I thought I would share with you my favorite on screen mothers.

When I started to think about the blog post, I wondered what indeed I would do. Jane Austen's mothers are mostly foolish or mean, and Bronte's mothers are either non-existent or half mad. Mrs. Dashwood, however, was an easy and foundational choice for me. Fearless and proud, she endures the loss of her husband, house, and lifestyle to undeserved and ruthless relatives, and moves her family away from everything they know for a better chance at happiness within their constraints. While Elinor is her voice of reason, it takes a powerful woman to allow her daughter that kind of control and still be the adult head of the family. She is loving, she is kind, and--above all--she reminds her daughters to enjoy life as it comes, without grasping, scheming, or loathing.

Dear reader, you may not like old battle axe Thornton for Margaret's sake, but if you think about it, Mrs. Thornton is a thoroughly stand-up and modern mother. After the suicide of her husband, she took her two young children and raised them with economy and strict focus; she managed John's money so well he was able to lease the mill, and she continues to run it with him on a day-to-day basis. Even though she hates Margaret, she promises to learn to like her when she realizes John is in love with her; and then when John can't hate Margaret even after she's rejected him, Mrs. Thornton vows to in his stead. As a mother, Mrs. Thorton is like a tiger: fierce on the outside, but loving and protective when no one is looking.

When thinking of my featured mothers, Mrs. Bennet was not first on my list. She wasn't even on my list. At a glance, Mrs. Bennet seems like one of the least qualified women to be a mother of five daughters. She's immature, frivolous, and simply wants to get all her girls married off to the first men she can find. And then I took a second look at Mrs. Bennet, because Jane Austen is far more introspective than that. Mrs. Bennet is able to be frivolous because she has (at least) two very level-headed daughters and seeing as how she's raised them well, why should she change her style for the other three? Her immaturity can be likened to the gossip addicts of today's society. And she wants to get her daughters married so that they will be provided for, knowing she has not saved for them on her own. Really, all the Mrs. Bennet is guilty of is a melodramatic disposition and social butterfly syndrome. She is a well meaning mother, who puts her family first, and for tha she's been added to my list.

Lady Crawley is one fierce women. She is unwavering in her modern ideas, while despising shifts in modern society. Above all, she is willing to do anything to protect her granddaughter's inheritance. She holds that quiet type of motherhood: the type where her children think she expects everything of them, when really she simply wants to see them do well and be happy. Lady Crawley is continually surprised by how people see her, and can't seem to understand why one must make way for impolite society in an entrenched history. I love Violet because she is the determined matriarch, the women you think of one way when really she's another, a class act all the way. Considering how wonderful her son is, I'd say she definately nears the top of my favorite mothers list.

While all these characters are wonderful examples of literary mothers, I want to finish this blog post by saying happy mother's day to all the truly wonderful mothers celebrating. You do not just deserve today, but every day to be mother's day. We never appreciate you as much as we should, and I wish this day was more like Christmas, then you may properly feel the love and awe we give to you.

Sentence a Week #003

“Now Miss Rory, where are you off to?” The thunder began rumbling closer, bursting with light just outside the windows. “Thundersnow out there. A terrible thing of the north, my dear. Why, my dear departed James—rest his soul—died in a thundersnow. Electrocuted with the ice they say. We never did find his body.” Margaret rolled her eyes. “Haven’t you ever seen it before?”

-Unwicked, chapter untitled

Will work for costume dramas

Not really dear reader, I just think saying will work for food -- not so new or interesting. But, I will work for food, and costume dramas, but even better -- a little cash.

A few weeks ago I made a big decision, in order to fully commit time to the novel, blog here, and in general to not be run dead in a year: I quit my supplemental, part-time job at a retail store. Now I can actually blog about fashion and where I buy it without possibly getting in heep big trouble. I can write, and be in a physical and mental state conducive to writing. And I can start expanding my graphic design portfolio, which really needs some expanding.

What does that mean? Well dear reader, you're in luck! It means, that at least for the next few months, I will be doing 2 free commissions a month. The first 2 people to comment on this post and then email me at heather.frances @gmail .com, will receive a free commission!

Free commissions include: business cards, website buttons/headers, resume redesigns, or 30-40 pages of novel/fanfiction formatting (and editing). The commission will be completed within the month and you get to pick exactly what you want. 1 commission per winner. Winners are not eligible to enter again.

Feel like you want something with a larger scale? Don't want to wait? Check out the hire me page, with the By Heather PDF guide for rough pricing on graphic design work and get me designing ASAP.


This set was created for the month of April, 2010 and was inspired by old newspapers and puzzles. The images and scanned puzzle pieces, highly contrasted to make may look less like puzzle pieces, and more like funcky text snippets. Puzzle Pieces are scanned from old Times/New York Times Newspaper front pages, which were super-imposed on a puzzle. 22 brushes of varying size, all in theme.