Men of Austen Week: Style Secrets from Colonel Brandon

Many of Austen’s men could be argued to be rather sheltered pretty-boys. Many are wealthy, of the upper-classes, and haven’t much to trouble themselves about besides finding a female with enough family nobility to consider aligning their name with. One of Austen’s men that definitely doesn’t fall into that category though is Colonel Brandon. Though he comes from a family with much wealth, Brandon has much experience with his own trials and tribulations. He was twice in love with women out of his class, forced to abandon one of them for a life of banishment in the East Indies, and teeters dangerously on the brink of losing the other one to a man without either morality or money. Through his rather tumultuous life and extensive travels however, Brandon gains an insight into character, a charm, and a sense of wisdom that is unmatched by any of the younger, potentially more eligible, bachelors of Austen’s novel Sense and Sensibility.

In Colonel Brandon alone…did Elinor find a person who could in any degree claim the respect of abilities, excite the interest of friendship, or give pleasure as a companion. -Elinor Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility

brandon collage

  • Work here: Maps are beautiful by themselves, but when done on a scale like this, and done in unusual places like covering an entire floor, suddenly you’ve got a map worthy to grace even the Colonel’s work space.
  • Read by this: I’m going to say that Colonel Brandon wouldn’t be caught dead modge-podging one of his East Indies maps to a lampshade, but that’s all they did over at Rosie’s Vintage Lampshades to make this unique twist on using maps in a whole new way.
  • Sit here: West Elm’s ‘Victor’ chair is so sleek and modern, yet has enough of a nod to the Victorian gentleman’s chair that I think Brandon would rest quite comfortably in it.

brandon collage 2

  • Collect these: Brandon is always hunting, traveling, and riding, and I think he would take much pleasure in the new trend for globe-collecting. There’s so many awesome things you can do with globes besides just having them stand guard on a desk.
  • Leave notes here:  I want to do this so very badly: just find an old globe at a thrift store, paint it with chalkboard paint, and you’ve got the perfect, whimsical place to leave notes. If you can’t imagine painting over a globe, I’ve seen many at places like Salvation Army that are rather torn and ragged and would be otherwise unusable,–so, find one of these torn treasures and you don’t have to feel bad about covering cartography.

Even if you can’t travel like Brandon did, you can have a little global perspective in your own home with these design-ideas. Colonel Brandon’s global perspective allowed him to see through the immaturity, selfishness, and immorality of a man (Willoughby) everyone else found dashing, handsome, and irresistible, enabling him to stand apart from a society that seemed only to fall in love with appearances. His insight is what attracted the respect, admiration, and finally the love of Marianne Dashwood, the woman whom Brandon loved dearly despite her lack of wealth.

Happy Friday everyone! That’s it for my Men of Austen week, I had so much fun doing it and hopefully you found them a bit inspiring with recipes, DIY’s, gift ideas, and some commentary on the modern man.

-<3 A. 

New Years Table-scape and DIY Twineballs

Ok, I gave up, New Years is happening so I decided to give it a nod and put up something festive.

new years tablescape

Twine-balls are everywhere, I’ve seen them decking weddings, parties, baby showers, and now, you’ll be seeing them at your New Years party if you feel like kicking off 2013 with a little arts and crafts. It took me about an hour and a half to make these guys (not counting drying time) and they make quite the impact I think when hung over whatever table-scape you’re planning.


new years decorating ideas

  • Mix the corn starch, water, and glue together until the mixture is starting to thicken. You might have to play around with the proportions a bit to get the consistency right. I had to make this mixture twice in order to coat enough twine for four, rather large balloons. (**confession: I wanted to make the twine-balls gold so I tried pouring gold paint in with the mixture but it ended up making a murky grey color so, don’t try and skip a step, just make the twine-balls and then spray-paint them whatever color you want later. I ended up deciding to paint them a chic black anyway.)
  • Place a rod between two chairs so you have something to tie the balloons on while you’re working.
  • Blow up the balloons to the size you want and tie them to the rod with some twine.

diy twineballs

  • Coat the twine in the glue mixture and then just start winding the twine around    the balloons until you have as much twine as you want coating the balloon. It’s a bit messy so put some paper down to protect your floor and it’s also a good idea to have an extra set of hands to help hold the balloon steady while you are applying the glue-soaked twine:

diy new years craft

diy twineballs

**A note on drying time: this really depends on the weather, how warm your house is, how much glue you have on the twine etc. You should be able to tell if it’s dry by touching the balloons to see if the twine has made a hardened shell.

  • After the twine feels dry, spray paint the balloons whatever color you desire. I’ve done this project before and just left them white and I thought they turned out beautiful. For New Years though, I wanted something a bit more dramatic so I went for the black. (**if you want to hang these outside, don’t forget to also add a protective coat of clear spray-paint, otherwise if the twine gets wet the balls will deflate. Trust me, I forgot to do that step before and I was left with strange, soggy, limp twine.)

diy twineballs

  • After the paint dries, just cut a tiny hole in the balloon to let the air out SLOWLY. The balloon will separate itself from the twine and then you’re left with a pretty impressive globe:

new years decorations


diy twineballs new years decorations

I think these twineballs are so fun because they’re so versatile:  you could hang them around a light bulb for a chandelier effect, make miniature ones to place over twinkle-light strands, hang outside for a garden party, or even over a crib for a mobile. I paired the balls with some vintage decanters I just discovered at Salvation Army. I got the entire tray of decanters plus the champagne glasses seen in yesterday’s post for a whopping $18! Pretty nifty, yes? Hope this inspires you and (almost) Happy New Year!

– <3 A. 

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