Saturday, December 16, 2017

Christmas and Winter Questionnaire Day One: Beginning Christmas

I borrowed questions and ideas from: here, here, and here. I divided my list into 6 days.

~Do you send Christmas cards?
Sometimes, the pretty ones that come in sets, not the ones with family photos. I like getting those from friends who we've not seen in awhile, but I like sending the elegant artistic ones.

~When does Christmas start?
Well, my family starts with Hallmark right after Halloween. This year I didn't start watching until after Thanksgiving. I'd prefer it to start in December and then end on the 12th day of Christmas January 6th. I think we have plenty of autumn holidays and few of winter, so there is no need to rush into and then rush out of Christmas.

~Do you have an advent calendar?
I outgrew our family one. The three youngest still attached the stuffed decorations on the fabric tree. I kind of did a Christmas activity countdown this year, but its a mix of that and a fun list, so I haven't followed it exactly. I'd like to find or make one I can make into a tradition.

~What holiday traditions are you looking forward to most this year?
All of them.

~What would be your dream place to visit for the holiday season?
I'm not sure I'd really ever prefer to travel on a holiday, but perhaps after or before when people still have the decorations up. Some traditional village or city with lovely decorations maybe?

~What is your most memorable holiday moment?
Right now, I cannot really think of a moment. We had two memorable Christmases recently, once when my brother got engaged, three years ago, and then when he got married a few days before Christmas two years ago.

~What makes the holidays special for you?
Family, traditions, the sensory experience, Hallmark, gifts, I love the entire experience!!!!!

~How did you grow up thinking about Santa?
My dad is the Grinch, Scrooge, and the Christmas Corrector, and I don't think Mom loved the Santa myth. We weren't taught to believe in Santa, we just enjoyed the various Christmas stories. I never cared overmuch for Santa himself, I just loved all the stories about Christmas.

~Can you name all his reindeer?
Nope. Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blizen, Rudolph. Are there 13 with Rudolph or 11? I should look that up.

~Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?
There is nothing wrong with "Happy Holidays," except it is incredibly generic and boring. "Merry Christmas" is fun to say plus far more specific. And "merry" is quite expressive of Christmas specifically.

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Questions for day one if you want to participate:
Beginning Christmas
~Do you send Christmas cards?
~When does Christmas start?
~Do you have an advent calendar?
~What holiday traditions are you looking forward to most this year?
~What would be your dream place to visit for the holiday season?
~What is your most memorable holiday moment?
~What makes the holidays special for you?
~How did you grow up thinking about Santa?
~Can you name all his reindeer?


Friday, December 8, 2017

What I Read November

Well, this is embarrassing. I did work more than I have ever in my life . . . and then went home and wasted time on the computers. Yeah. I had time, plenty of time.

The Quest for Cosmic Justice by Thomas Sowell. Timeless discussion of differing paradigms.

The first two of the Spiderwick Chronicles. Um, yes, I know these are juvenile, but the first was cute. I was put off by some things, but I wanted some easy (stop laughing) reads. But after the second. Nope. This has gross and twisted. Also, my internal alarm system is bizarre. I'll get into that with my December reads.

I've been putting down a lot of books lately. Time is too precious and there are too many good books in the world to waste on silliness. My December reading will be much better. It helps that I could read at work the last few days unlike most of last month.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

I Finally Bought the Ancestry Test

Things to Bear in Mind (watch this video, focus especially on his explanations after the comparisons).

1. DNA test are new, sketchy, and general and humans are dumb.

2. In order to determine ethnicity matches, we must have reference populations. These are MODERN, so may/probably don't reflect when my ancestors came over. For non-Europeans, the modern reference groups are much smaller or non-existent which distorts their results.

3. It only takes a few generations back before you reach ancestors from which you receive 0 DNA because DNA is halved every generation.

BUT

4. DNA is random. Don't expect a perfect halved percentage of your ancestor's ethnicity and don't expect your siblings ethnicity percentages to match yours closely.

OKAY. So I bought my DNA test through ancestry.com via a Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale. I had previously built a tree with a free trial plus got an extra two weeks for this. So hopefully I will get some matches.

Now, I want to try and predict my results based on what I know from my grandparents and my research and estimating with help from this previously mentioned study. Like I've mentioned before, from what I've seen on my ancestry, my family REALLY matches the patterns described in David Hackett Fischer's Albion's Seed.

I'm looking at the averages for European Americans and then at the charts plus factoring in what I know.

~60-70% British
~30-40% Western Europe (Germany and Switzerland for me specifically because I know)
~Above average (0.19%) African American
~Average (0.18%) or below Native American
<1 american="" native="" p="">~Wondering about European Jewish?

I realize anything less than 1% isn't going to show on the test, but I really don't have anything in my family stories to safely assume anything more. The alleged Native American ancestor was quite far back plus I saw a photo, she looks European to me. And my European percentages are variable because like I said, ancestry doesn't equal exact ratio. And my Dad's history is empty of immigrants after the 18th century, so I assume a massive if not entirely British heritage from that fact and their locations.
<1 american="" native="" p="">

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

My (Lack of) Travel Experience

I've been reading a lot of travel blogs lately (am I late to this or have they particularly exploded recently?). I'm not well-traveled, but I'd like to improve that. But I will never be a traveler of the sort on these blogs. I'm a homebody, I burn out easily, and I'm not usually ever all that interested in one thing (rather extreme and also, boring, imo), so I'd prefer travel as a part of my life not THE focus. And I'm afraid I would start to quickly not see it as exciting and interesting; I'd rather keep it a bit rare and special (that is a theme with me; if I read or watch something to many times I can almost hate it). Anyway. I thought I'd highlight some of my and my family's travel experience. I will be in Florida soon!

My mom's family took road trips all over the days when she was growing up. My grandparents have taken many trips all over the U.S. in their retirement. They've visited Canada and Israel as well, and my grandmother visited Switzerland. My Dad's family moved from Texas to our current (my and my Mom's family's) state, but I don't know if they ever traveled again. I was born in Michigan as my Dad worked there for several years after college, and then we moved back. Dad's job has taken him all over the world, but he isn't adventurous. Even though we were home-schooled, he didn't take any of us with him overseas. We have, however, traveled with him domestically. Travelgirl has traveled to the Caribbean, Central American, and Oceania (she lived there for several months). I have my passport but haven't used it yet. I hope to use it within the year at least once.

We (as a family) stayed in the South and Midwest until the end of 2006. Florida is where everyone goes around here. Or the Smokies. I have visited a few less than half the states, but I haven't explored all the ones we visited. Sometimes we went with Dad to boring places and stayed in a hotel and swam. I'll only mention states in which we visited an interesting place.

Arizona. We visited the Grand Canyon. And driving through the state and seeing the landscape is an experience.

California. I've been twice. We visited San Francisco and Monterey Bay area in January of 2007 with Dad on a work trip. We visited the San Francisco Bay in a boat, the Sourdough Factory, Muir Woods, Point Reyes, Monterey bay aquarium, a winery, and various seashores. Then we visited San Diego in May of 2016 during our epic two-week road trip. We visited the zoo, La Jolla Cove, and the beaches. I think Mission Beach the prettiest I've been to.

Colorado. We drove through here on the way back. Colorado is another one of those states which driving through is an experience.

Florida. My parents took me to Disney and Sea World as a tiny child. I barely remember it. We've visited the Gulf at least three times, once to St. George Island.

Georgia. Visited Jekyll Island. The Island is gorgeous but the water brackish. We saw two turtles released to the ocean.

Illinois. Chicago once. Chicago area later to visit friends. We ate Chicago style pizza that time.

Kentucky. Mammoth Cave.

Michigan. Holland.

Missouri. St. Louis twice.

New Mexico. Beautiful, another of those driving experience states. We visited Albuquerque.

Tennessee. We visited Chattanooga. We've been to the Smokies three times.

Texas. Dad's family is from there but we aren't close to his side, so we've only made one family trip to see his grandfather on his ranch. We drove through (another experience) North Texas and visited friends in the Fort Worth area during our grand trip. We also stopped at Palo Duro Canyon.

Utah. So beautiful. An epic drive, but we also visited Zion and Arches.

Virginia. Williamsburg twice, and Monticello once.


Monday, December 4, 2017

Link Love: Genealogy and DNA

I mistakenly assumed that my DNA ethnic breakdown would exactly match my siblings. I also assumed it would proportionally match my ancestry. Genes are far more complex and random than that. For example, my grandfather is of 1/4 Swiss ancestry. Yet, his DNA might not show 25% Swiss genes nor mine 6.25% although it could. I found this out via this article, and the concept is further explained in this article.

This fascinating study of a small sampling of people attempts to analyze the backgrounds of the three main ethnic groups in the U.S.: European Americans, Hispanic Americans, and African Americans. Now, there is no way of knowing if this is a representative sampling, as they note, but I think it is still great for general information. Be sure to look at all the maps. This is something to regularly refer back to.

And in a similar vein, this map displays subgroups and migration patterns and typical generation length in U.S. This matches with my family's genealogy and some of David Hackett Fischer's explanations. We've always moved West, quite literally.

And if you are ever in the market for DNA testing, this is a thorough analysis of the pros and cons. I'd like to test a couple people in my family for a variety of these tests. The ethnicity one is interesting, but the Y-DNA is probably most helpful for genealogical research.

Friday, December 1, 2017

A Literary Christmas Link-Up

I am linking up here for A Literary Christmas.

My books are:

~Annika's Secret Wish by Beverly Lewis
~Letters from Father Christmas by J. R. Tolkein
~A Merry Christmas, and Other Christmas Stories by Louisa May Alcott
~Stories Behind the Best-loved Songs of Christmas by Ace Collins
~Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: a Family Celebration of Christmas by Ann Voskamp

And anything else I'm inspired to read from everyone else's lists.

Discovering Knitting: How I Became a Knitter

I don't remember exactly my age when my grandmothers first introduced me to knitting, but I know I wasn't near a teen. One grandmother gave me a family knitting basket and needles and also a learn-to-knit set. My other grandmother gave me my first lesson . . . which didn't stick.

A lady at my childhood church often brought her knitting when she worked as the church librarian. And once she brought a lace shawl once. Purple and delicate and elegant. I set my heart on lace.
When I was around 13, this lady invited some ladies and girls to a knitting class at her home. I struggled in the beginning; I ended up knitting back and forth combining left and right-handed methods instead of switching the needles and so instead of garter I had a twisted stockinette! Also, a couple other girls our age attended, and we often spent time talking and running around outside.

But I was truly interested. I loved seeing everyone's work, especially our teacher's. And our teacher gave us knitting catalogs which featured gorgeous yarn and patterns (I especially loved the ethereal lace), and I loved pouring over these. I eventually began to progress, but after awhile the group stopped. As I didn't have access to many patterns and lacked purpose, style, and resources, I knitted sporadicy at best during much of my teenage years. I continued to look over the catalogs, and my sister and I received an excellent book that I still use as a reference (I got another copy).

Over recent years a couple things happened which combined to act as a catalyst to my knitting. I got jobs (rather essential to a hobby). A lady at church showed me how to knit Continental style which for me at least is much faster. I looked up the online stores of those old catalogs and learned about Ravelry via a blog. Other bloggers inspired me. So, I began to knit more. I ventured out of my comfort zone to learn lace and fingerless gloves and baby sweaters. We also joined up with the more serious knitters of the older group sporadically.

And now, I need to start venturing into more difficult territory. I've balked at sweaters which I really need to work on that because that is one of the most practical items for me personally.

If you know how to knit how did you learn? What inspires you/where do you find patterns?

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Link Love: Bookish

So, I'm not the most disciplined reader. Sometimes I force myself to finish something bit by bit by marking off segments to read. I always need light reading on hand.

I easily read a book I adore in one day, but reading for learning? How to read a book in a day (okay, so serious books are probably too dense and long for this, but the overall concept is good).

I think reading well is more important than reading many books. Here are some tips to help you read well. I think I do several of these steps automatically as I read nonfiction, but I need to make better notes, to ask questions, to play the devil's advocate (to myself).

Can you start too many reading challenges? No, I don't think so. I might do this one next year or borrow some ideas from it anyway.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Link Love: Character

Advice from a mom. I have a hard enough time responding sometimes.

How to deal with nightmare guests one and two. And perhaps how to see if you are one. One of the
most aggravating things about rude people is when hosts don't deal with them.

The comment in section six of this blog post. Um, that should be a caution/stop sign for us!!! I'm really good at dredging things up that I've done, I've got a good memory, I'm sensitive to reactions, but what if I didn't know/wasn't thinking about the reaction, didn't see the reaction?

Honesty online. Ranting, raving,  and complaining ties in here. People do that too much with friends, and it's never a good idea at work, why would it be online? It is not fake to be "reserved." To be careful. The Internet isn't your diary, oversharing (over-familiarity) repels, oversharing creates a false sense of knowing people. Online you are missing a relationship, you are missing body language and tone and context (hello, why all emotional and subjective issues are dangerous online).

Gratefulness list. This isn't new, but sometimes hearing an idea in a different way makes it seem more appealing.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Link Love: Historical Fashion

I think that a post on historical fashion goes well with the month of Halloween. This is often the route for those of us not interested in ghoulish costumes. Last year my sisters and I dressed in the fashion of a decade of the last century for Halloween.

My love of historical fashion began with an obsession with pioneers as a child. All thanks to The Little House Books and the computer game Oregon Trail, of course. I had sunbonnets, aprons, "calico" dresses, etc.. My sister and I had a few American Girl dolls, and we loved pouring over the American Girl catalog every time it came.

Then came the Jane Austen period. I'd never known about the historical fashion period between the huge dresses of the Colonial and the Civil War eras. I was fascinated by all the costumes in the JA movies, and later, all the reproductions from bloggers and Jane Austen festival attendees.*

While I don't make historical clothing myself, I do still appreciate the work of others.
Someone pinned Angela Clayton's work on Pinterest, and I've been following her blog ever since. Her historical fashion work is stunning.

Lily at Mode de Lis posts quite a bit of retro inspired clothing as well as a few Colonial and Regency dresses.

I found this interesting video via another blogger's link post. The re-enactors show all the layers and pieces an upper-class 18th-century woman wore. So many layers and tools for the correct form. And people pinned their clothes on!
If you love pouring over and analyzing the historical costumes of period films, check out this archived blog.





*Speaking of Jane Austen, I think I'd seen someone mention this game, but thought it was the board game I played years ago. After another blogger posted the link to this hilarious video of the LBD cast members playing the game, I realized it was a different and far more clever game.