Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Twelve Days of Christmas: Day Seven

Christmas Day Continued: Mamau and Papau's and An Engagement

The outfit photo in the last post shows what I wore to Mamau and Papau's and above is the jewelry I wore (the earrings are Frozen inspired from etsy, but I did not see them for sale when I looked at the shop to link). We watched Maleficent. My brother left to propose to his girlfriend (he had given her dad a note for her Christmas stocking which told her meet him at a lake). We went to Mamau and Papau's and watched the Hallmark movie they recorded for us: Christmas Under Wraps (I think that is the name).* Nick might be the best, at the least one of the best, Hallmark heroes ever. We ate a lovely meal of ham, deviled eggs, green fluff (I am not sure what is in it, and I do not eat it), and macaroni and cheese. We finished the movie and then opened gifts (my gifts are the other two photos).

*Edit, no, they recorded The Best Christmas Party Ever. I didn't care for Christmas Under Wraps overmuch.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Twelve Days of Christmas: Day Six

Christmas day gifts to me

Mom and Dad gave me two sweaters, two belts, a vintage lifestyle book, one piece pajamas (my Eeyore sister got one complete with ears, another had a bum opening with a frog on it, another had puppy dog one, and the other one had a grey one with white design, rather Eskimo looking when she put the hood on, and Dad got Grinch pajama pants), three pairs of tights (one has little silver bows printed on it), two necklaces, chocolate, and a Hobby Lobby gift card. Yeah, a lot. Oh, and we all got bananas. The outfit is the combination of gifts I wore to my grandparents house in the afternoon.

One sister gave me fabric from the other country where she has been volunteer teaching, and one gave me Princess Diaries: A Royal Engagement . . . simply because of Chris Pine.

My brother gave all of us girls and his fiancée heart necklaces. Mine is purple and silver, sister one is gold and green ("Loki colors," she instantly said), sister two has gold and purple, sister three has silver and blue, and sister four has gold and red ("Gryffindor colors" they proclaimed; see, so much awesome bookishness!). His fiancée received silver and red which is perfect both for her taste and their relationship.

My brother also bought my sisters' the game Life. Several more movies were received (Mulan, Maleficent, The Hurt Locker, Hercules, Spirit). We have had lots of game playing and movie watching over the last few days.

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Twelve Days of Christmas: Day Five

Christmas day gifts from me

I gave

~Dad: Ticket to Ride (Dad is hard to buy for and since he really likes this game, he will be getting the European and Asian versions for future presents)

~Mom: a Martin Lloyd-Jones book, sweater, and juice glasses

~Sister one: a dress, this awesome necklace* (I wanted to get all the girls HP necklaces, but budget/I can do this myself won out, and one of my sisters ended up getting a time turner necklace from a friend although I still want to make her a Marauder's Map one), a hardcover copy of The Book Thief (still need to buy myself one!), and the pretty colored jewelry pliers

~My brother: grey pants, a tie (isn't it lovely?!), the red jewelry making tools (he has made his now fiancée several pieces of jewelry with my pliers and my sister's wire; Mom bought him wire)

~Sister two the grey earrings, striped scarf and Fearless piano music (I got her Red and Speak Now for her birthday)

~Sister 3 Tinker Bell earrings*, the blue earrings, and a pastel art set. sister four a drawing and a watercolor art set

~The little girls together got two Adventures in Odyssey and several movies (although I did not realize I ended up getting them two copies of the second Swan Princess instead of two and three) and each a Disney fairies folder.

~The clutches are for my brother's fiancée. Clothes Mentor has a lovely collection of clutches. I bought five at one time and then another later and all but one for gifts, and I think I want to buy more for gifts. I considered them because of the fact that for a recent wedding I felt my lack (more on the topic in an upcoming fashion post).

I had a more reasonable budget for my income than last year and still got lots of lovely gifts, I thought. I like to like the gifts I am giving as well as think that the receivers like them. I do want to be better at trying to buy gifts as I see them through the year and saving, so I can spend during sale seasons for myself and upcoming Christmases and birthdays.

* I love nerdy/artsy/bookish jewelry, particularly in necklace form. I want to build my own collection too.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Twelve Days of Christmas: Day Four

Christmas Eve

I woke up at 6 am and spent most of my day knitting on the baby sweater. I could not finish and have still not finished. I had a few other tasks to do before our Christmas Eve party including making truffles.

1 lb. bittersweet chocolate and 1 lb. semisweet chocolate chopped into small pieces. 2 cups of heavy cream heated until just about to boil and poured into chocolate through strainer. 1.5 teaspoons of vanilla. Might need to microwave just a tiny bit to melt the last few pieces if you did not cut your pieces small enough to melt easily. Stir until smooth and put in refrigerator until firm and then roll in balls and roll in cocoa. Yum.

 One of my younger sisters curled my hair with a curling wand, and the curls lasted three days until I had to wash my hair. I took these photos after I came home. I love this less than $3 silk scarf from Clothes Mentor; I can tie it so many ways, but this braid is my favorite and probably my best looking braid yet. You cannot see from the photo, but my tights are sparkly.

The big photo is my collection of gifts. I received a wrap from my secret Santa plus that darling little ornament. From our five dollar gift exchange (new this year) I got those velvet covered hangers. The clutch was my contribution to the $5 gift exchanged, and the collection of jewelry and sparkly scarf was my gift for the secret Santa part. I was quite thrilled with my bargain shopping and had had my eye on that necklace even before we drew names. I switched names with Mom, so I could use my Clothes Mentor discount and buy it.

And then when we got home I had to wrap all my presents for Christmas morning which took me until about midnight.

P.S. Holly, who incidentally, fits in a Christmas stocking (this fact is courtesy of my brother and a family friend who put her in one last Sunday) got to come to Christmas Eve with us and sat/slept in people's laps the whole time.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Twelve Days of Christmas: Day Three


I took several blurry photos before I got this one. She wanted to wait  by the door which leads to the cats AND she just kept purposely turning her face away. Finally I carried her to a chair and took this picture, and she is still looking at her precious door.

A early Christmas present to one of my sisters. We had a dog die last year and a dog die a several weeks ago. Despite the fact that they were not special family spoiled dogs, my sister mentioned soon after the most recent death that she wanted a puppy. Then she became more persistent Monday the 15th, and she insisted she could take care of one, and that the older family members would not actually be the ones doing the work. I thought Dad would let her get one eventually. I came home that night to this midget sleeping on Mom's bed. Yes. wow. The humane society had her listed as a Chihuahua and terrier mix, but we think because of her sausage shape and short legs and coloring that she has Dachshund too. My sister named her Holly. So now we have two Christmas animals.

Another early Christmas present was The Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies to which we got Dad to take us as a family that week like we did last year (except last year it was on Christmas Eve).

I did not think yesterday to show a photo of our Advent calendar.

 We have used this since I was little although now just the three youngest put up the ornaments. Although my brother was trying to put one up, saying my sister slept in too late, to annoy my little sisters.

The Twelve Days of Christmas: Day Two

Yes, I know I did not post for day one, and I realized that I am actually posting on day three, but I think Christmas is an excellent substitute for a post about Christmas, and I started this post on day two.

Here is some of our Christmas decor:

This was earlier this month. Sugarplum (I named her several Christmases ago when we received her as a little scared, scrawny kitty who, as she walked, stretched her little neck out to look around for danger) has been rather stressed over the recent months as our newer, much younger cat, Mumford (he was already named when we got him) loves to annoy her, and she often roamed the house trying to find a place to sleep. This particular day my sisters were cleaning, so she had extra stress and decided to try the tree as a place to sleep. She was seriously trying to camp out there. When we first got her she climbed the tree as a curious kitten munchkin, but this time she wanted to actually sleep in it. I think she may have lasted in there a short while (15''?).

We invited a visiting family over to our house either last year or earlier this year, and they sent us these fabric decorations with their thank-you note. My sister used them thus, and I really liked the effect even though my usual taste is rather more elegant.

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club Mini-Review

The tone of this book was better than Unnatural Death plus for Wimsey, more personal (although much less than in Clouds of Witness). Less ghastly and only one murder. One love match. More mystery.

Actually, towards the end the detectives make discoveries so fast and reveal so little that I was bewildered and thought that I had skipped something. On further thought, I decided I liked this twist in the style.

And of course Wimsey is hilarious, and I garnered more quotes for my quote book. Parker and Wimsey's habit of irritating each other—marvelously soothing!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Random Reading Rambling

The One
Oh, I could say so much of this book and its hypocritical, double-sided, inconsistent, self-righteous, weak-minded heroine, but I will refrain and merely point out that despite the absurdity during her wedding, this book is not as bad as The Elite if only because The Elite dashed all reasonable expectations and made everything so bad that everything had to get better. I will never get over my disappointment in this series, but apparently I will never stop reading them as I learned here about the next book. And the cover designs are just so lovely . . . that is a/the main reason I picked up The Selection. The dresses are so elegant, the overall cover design unique but not looking as if the designer was trying too hard to be unique.

The Talisman Ring
This is my first Georgette Heyer novel. It is quite silly but also quite funny thus far. I am good about picky cotton candy books to read . . .

The Unwanteds
The very broad concept is good, the writing quality is appalling. Middle grade books ought not to read as if they were written by middle graders. And whoever defamed/libeled Harry Potter by mentioning it in connection to this book has earned my deepest disgust.

Right Ho, Jeeves
This is by far the best so far in the Jeeves and Wooster saga. The way Aunt Dahlia talks to poor Bertie is epic. And that 18 mile bike-ride. And newts.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Nicholas Nickleby 2000

I did not watch this film entirely by myself and did not sit down and take notes afterward. I do not remember the other film adaptation well at all, so I cannot really compare very much. I watched this movie in the spring so my memory will be even less clear.

~Neither of the Nicholas characters really resembled the book Nicholas in his quick and warm-tempered impetuous, high strung personality.

~A very young, somewhat snaggle-toothed Tom Hiddleston appeared (to a loud round of screaming from us as two of my sisters had joined me previously, opportunely as it proved).

~J.J. Feilds was greeted with considerable interest himself (interesting how those two similar looking actors appeared in the same film).

~Again on the American-British dental divide, we thought the actor who played Smike (Gustave in Ever After) was wearing braces.

~Madeline looked ridiculous and rather shamelessly initiated the proposal (my sister said she proposed; it was almost that bad).

~There were some REALLY vulgar sexual scenes. The Kate Nickleby/Sir Mulberry Hawk scene . . . um, people the fact in the novel that he stood too near her and took her arm without asking were enough to be insulting. The movie showed him as almost raping her. Are we that dull nowadays that we cannot understand that time period?! I am sorry, but many of us NOW would feel threatened in the book situations aforementioned.

~My sisters complained of the much to loud and dramatic music. Very '90's one said.

~Obviously I need to watch the other version again. I saw both a high school play and the 2002 version before I read the book, so I missed a lot I am sure.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

David Copperfield Review

I started/skipped through this novel a couple times, so I was familiar with much of the story. The beginning is so gloomy I just picked up where I started last year.

This book seemed to have a series of hurdles I had to overcome. The first is the Murdstones, but I had mostly got through this period last year. Then there is a time of hardship before he meets his aunt. Then a respite and oh, my word, the interlude chapter is just richness. After the respite: The Steerforth Delusion and Looming Doom. Yes, please let that storm break, and DAVID WAKE UP. Next to the smaller hurdle of the Dora delusion. Actually that period was not as bad as I was expecting—I found much of it quite amusing. Then David takes his time falling in/declaring love to Agnes.

Anyway, I really enjoyed this novel, more than I was expecting. I really learning to enjoy Dickens' style of writing with his insights into human and nature and his way of revealing those and his humor.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Yarn Along

Link up here.

I am reading three books, but I am trying at the moment to finish Little Dorrit. And no, I still have not finished those other two knitting projects, but this is a Christmas present (a baby sweater). I am working on the back and front at the same time because it makes me feel like I am working faster and in order for the sweater to look more uniform.

Here is my first holiday batch of yarn, from Knitpicks. I have another order from coming, but the yarn I need for Christmas was back-ordered, so I am going to have to pick some up tomorrow. Yes, excellent timing.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Secret Garden Review

I was rather stunned (and somewhat incredulous) when I realized that the author of A Little Princess wrote The Secret Garden because of the disparity in quality. Granted, I did read the former a couple years ago, and maybe I did not appreciate the style, but even if the style is better than I think, I find it is hard to get over a Elsie-Dinsmore-esque-hammer-you-over-the-head-she-is-perfect type of character, and I do not think such a type is compatible with good writing. Anyway.

I loved The Secret Garden. The style is charming and a touch mischievous—perfect for a book about children. I am not sure that meeting characters like Mary and Colin would be at all pleasant in real life, but the description and style made it delightful to read about them. I thought the other minor characters well-rounded and Dickon, a darling although perhaps the author mentioned his amiability and goodness a trifle too much.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Unnatural Death Mini-Review

The murderer in Unnatural Death, I think, was more of the Julian Freke style of murderer. Callous and brutal. I can remember three murders and at least 3 victims of attempted murder—including Lord Peter himself. Plus other disgusting/disturbing/wrong elements. This book, like Whose Body, was more of a detective story (i.e. we all—reader and characters—know who did it, but the characters need clues to prove it) rather than mystery. The main story I did not like, however, Wimsey provided several quotes.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Christmas Cookie Exchange

Mom and quite a few other ladies have done a Christmas cookie exchange for the past two or so (?) years (I think this may be the third year?). This year I decided to participate. Mom and I both baked enough to keep batches of our own cookies, so I have 14 total bags of around 6 cookies each.

I have tried a few pieces from Mom's basket, but I have not broken into mine yet. Do not worry I will share . . . at least the ones I do not like as much, :) I have seen fruit cake cookies, gingerbread, chocolate chip, maybe butterscotch, mine are thin cinnamon cookies, and Mom's are sugar/shortbread cookies dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with peppermint bits. There are some bar-like cookies which my sister described as being chocolate and butter, "hot chocolate" cookies (chocolate with a marshmallow covered in chocolate on top), and several types of ball cookies. Technically we were supposed to bring recipes, but very few did, and hopefully Mom got them, so I can copy hers if I want although I may have to ask people for their recipes if I really like their cookies.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Yarn Along

 I am still not finished with either of the projects about which I posted last time. I did finish The Unwanteds and started The Talisman Ring and Bleak House (pictured). I just posted the project and book I knitted/read most recently. I made two large yarn orders too, so look out! Link up here.

Friday, December 5, 2014

"A good story in rotten English . . ."


My youngest sister owns this series entitled The Unwanteds, and I have wanted to read them since she told me and the cover mentioned Harry Potter similarities (imitations was more how she put it). Most books are not highly unique and although this does contain (and I am not very far into the novel) too great Harry Potter mimicry (including such small ones only a nerd would notice), I do think her general concept of secret fantasy world in a dystopian world quite intriguing. Unfortunately, some people can only come up with concepts. The writing is pathetic, unimaginative, flat, etc. etc.

I love though that I found a book and a quote while reading another book that match together so perfectly! Although writing is a bit more complicated than that.

Monday, December 1, 2014

More Bookish Randomocity

I have my Classics Club list here, and I have a Goodreads list (although I often add as I read rather than fill in my to-read list completely) . . . but these stickers are just so fun (sparkly smiley faces), and I wanted to write out a list. I considered it after reading this post. I can be a paper list monster and have put a lot of them on the computer or away in a more organized manner, but I think this is a good list to have although if it was on my wall in might be better.

I have had this project in mind for a long time, perhaps a year or more. I printed off "22 Things Happy People Do Differently" from a linked post on Pinterest with the plan to make a little booklet with Bible verses pertaining to each point underneath the points. The paper and various cardboard pieces stayed in my room for months. A couple months ago I carefully wrote out the points and some verses. I want to draw flowers with appropriate meanings. We had a few books that contained flower meanings and then I got a book from the library, and I probably need to just pick a flower for each instead of trying to find the perfect one, but maybe I will get another book to find more meanings. All this mess plus verses, I think, are on the scrap paper.

I might have already posted a photo of the front of my Fall scrap-journal, but here is another.

These are all the books that I have read this fall. I think this journal will span several Autumns. Btw, I know the British say Autumn, and there are kind of snobby mocking pins (regarding U.S. usage of "Fall") about it on Pinterest. Some say it is French, but the root of any Romance languare word is Latin and here is the profound Latin definition of "autumnus" from Whitaker's Words. My Latin dictionary desktop dictionary did not have anything better. I find Anglophilia just a bit annoying . . . and ludicrous. Number one reason being, most of the people obsessed with the British have major British roots. Trust me, I have more reasons.

I filled out several pages of quotes from the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries; he is sooo quotable as are the books general.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving and Three Recipes

Bread pudding. Do not judge it by the photo; it is really quite good and does not need a sauce. Mom said it tasted like fancy French toast.

I tried making this for the first time Sunday and loved it so much that I wanted to make it for Thanksgiving and surprise my grandparents (it is Papau's favorite dessert and perhaps Mamau's also). I looked at a few online recipes and comments and then used the Betty Crocker as my guideline but changed a few things to get this recipe.

1/4 cup of butter
1 and 1/2 cups of milk
3 eggs
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4-1/2 tsp. almond extract
6 cups of sourdough bread (not soured)

Warm the first two ingredients together until butter is melted. Blend eggs, sugar, salt, and extracts. Add bread and then add milk mixture. Pour in greased square stone set on glass dish full of water. (I did this because some comments mentioned burning and suggested the glass dish to help; I may not have needed it because I used a stone). Bake @ 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

I do not know the recipe for the starter (it is called potato starter, I think), but here is the bread recipe I used ( I got up at 6:15 after going to bed at 11 or later, and I worked 8.5 hours today with close to two hours total of driving, so pardon the lazy recipe photos, being an adult is hard . . . first world problems :/).

I have bread waiting to be made into bread pudding tomorrow as I finish this post on Wednesday night.

For our church Thanksgiving celebration on Tuesday I made this recipe (doubled) for mac and cheese but used twice the amount of sharp cheddar (instead of sharp and mild) and substituted cream cheese for the cheese food. I think I would either use another recipe it or try more adjustments. I liked it right out of the oven, but cold at the church it was only okay. . . which might fit most homemade cold mac and cheese dishes.

I also made these homemade samoas on Monday for Tuesday. I would turn the oven down a little when toasting the coconut and stir at least every two minutes (or maybe skip the toasting completely). I would also keep the 1/4 of the caramel on very low and use a double boiler on low for the coconut-caramel mix. I think homemade caramel might taste better too. These are the presentable ones. I am not satisfied with this recipe. I want them to really taste like samoas . . . they taste like caramel cookies. I think I will try a more homemade caramel or sugar syrup that doesn't drown the coconut flavor next time.

Last night I made pumpkin bread for my work potluck today from our good old Pillsbury recipe. It is almost like pumpkin cake.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Hallmark Christmas Favorites

Edited and re-posted.

These are a few of my favorite things, somewhat in order of favoriteness.

1. Christmas Card and Thanksgiving Day Parade. I think the latter kind of counts as a Christmas movie because of the parade. These are a cut above the average Hallmark film because of the acting, humor, characters, sweetness, etc. We own these on D.V.D.s. We watch Christmas Card several times each Christmas season.

2. Hitched for the Holidays and Let it Snow. The first is so funny and features better acting but does have considerable angst. I actually re-watched it after writing most of this post, and I think it might be closer to my top favs. The second is super cute and the romance occurs before the end and the angst is familial not romantic; the story is a bit more complex than your average Hallmark. Also, awesome headband and Christmas traditions.

3. The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, Fir Crazy, Window Wonderland, A Season for Miracles. These are more regular Hallmark quality, and the first and last are super funny. The second one is on this particular favorite tier because two cute guys and the line "get a clue cuz." I think I could put the last one between 2 and 3. This film is super sweet but has considerable angst and is an older one, one of the Hallmark Hall of Fame movies.

4. Snow Bride, Call Me Mrs. Miracle, and Naughty or Nice, pretty cheesy but fun.

As to new movies for this year, I do not think any really made higher than than 4. The Nine Lives of Christmas is cute (or rather he is cute) but more average Hallmark on the scale of sweetness, angst, acting, plot, and humor. A Royal Christmas is about the same on ranking, though again the guy was super cute plus British. At least the film was better than A Princess for Christmas which was painfully embarrassing to watch. I thought Angels and Ornaments was awkward and embarrassing, except for the Angel and his story which were sweet. I saw a tiny part of North Pole and this film and the other previews do not look overly interesting.

Here is our "baby" cat Mumford "watching" with us.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Another Fashion Post: Epic Boot Buy

I am Summer in colors, and apparently also in style. I struggle with my winter style. I know what I want, but it is much more expensive and/or time consuming (since I need to sew and knit some items).

I have been a little bit better than last year um maybe? sometimes? but my style really still needs work. I look too librarian/schoolmarmish sometimes and too school girlish other times. The first style is fine for some people . . . above age 30 . . . and the latter for some below age 20. I am not satisfied for either look for me. I like elegant.

Anyway. I am really, really, REALLY picky about boots. I remember reading What I Wore about the concept of cost per wear. And I wanted real leather boots. I really want grey boots, but I can use brown too. I am picky about style too. I want round toe and do not like the noticeable rubber soles. I want heels both because my legs are short and need lengthening and because heels make the shoes (and outfit) more elegant. But I do not like short shafts which seem to be the fashionable length for boots with heels. Anyway.

I was searching ebay for boots. And found these.  Perfectly my style. What a deal even with the shipping. I ordered them as fast as I could. I did not say anything to anyone fearing skepticism because of ebay. But I just got them today, and they are what the listing promised.

They have some wear, particularly on the heels. But I am not exactly gentle on shoes (I have some waiting for new heel taps), so if I had bought brand new shoes, they likely would not have looked that way long. They are snug in foot and calf width, but  I need to lose weight, so for the calves that is fine. For the feet I can suffer if need be. These boots are quite beautiful.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Yarn Along

I am joining in the Yarn Along again.

Yeah, that is the same yarn from last time. I pulled out that project soon after I posted. I still would like to master that pattern, but I need to just follow the directions first before I decide to modify.  I also should probably make it for a baby closer to summer or spring. Anyway, I am making a headband/ear-warmer with the Saxon braid/cable pattern. Isn't it gorgeous?

Did I post David Copperfield the last time? I was still technically reading it then (I have technically been reading it for over a year). I think it may have been The Secret Garden which I have finished. I have really started to enjoy David Copperfield. That usually happens with long Dickens novels for me recently.

I have finished several more knitting projects since the last time. I forgot to take photos of two of them. A matching (same yarn as above except in peachy pink) ear-warmer/head band, knit double stranded with the aran braid cable as the main design and twisted cowl (I like the look of cowls better if I twist the cast on stitches once before I join) knit single stranded in garter stitch chevron.

Plus these three

We got started on an ear-warmer/headband craze last winter after watching the Hallmark movie "Let it Snow" last year. I loved the headband/ear-warmer that Stephanie wears when Brady first takes her skiing (here). Mom and my younger sister knitted a bunch of headbands last year (most if not all with simple braid cable), but only this year did I attempt any. The first one I tried was that pink one from  my last knitting post (I was not going for exactly like the movie). This one I made as a gift. I started it before the pink cable one, but I took this one out several times. I think I would like to make one for myself a bit more like the one from the movie. I did not use a pattern (I found one for sale, but it is fairly simple to figure out and not really that original a concept, so I did not consider it worth the buy).

 I used this pattern from Ravelry, but used seed/moss stitch instead. 

I used this pattern from Ravelry, and I would definitely modify it if I used again (not enough shaping within the pattern; I pushed and pulled them into that shape, and they are not likely to stay that way).

And I still have worked intermittently on a scarf/kerchief. I want to start a sweater, but I am waiting for a boatload of  knitting books from the library to help me fit it properly.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Natural Beauty: Cowgirl Dirt

I have list of objectionable ingredients from The Green Beauty Guide with which I scrutinized loads of purportedly natural and organic beauty products. To this list I want to add Titanium dioxide. All of my research is stuck on my ill or dead computer for the time being. But I still want to try to check ingredients better.

I ordered a bunch of samples from Cowgirl Dirt a couple months ago (I think I first heard of this company from the Fresh Modesty blog; the name of the company does not appeal to me as I have zero interest in cowgirl stuff or style, and this is probably part of the reason why it took me a while to look into it). I ordered some lip gloss and lip sticks, concealer, cream foundation, and cream eye shadow; the latter three do not make the cut because of the silica. I love being able to choose samples especially since it is so hard to purchase natural products and even though many natural products are only available online, many companies still do not offer samples (except in a random sort of way). I also received my order quite speedily.

With the first order I received a "10% off your next order" coupon (I also did with this order; please let some of the lipsticks work on me!). I finally got around to using it and ordered mascara (brown), eyeliner pencils (black, brown, blue, and purple), a lip liner pencil ("8 Seconds"), lip gloss ("Middleton Passion"), and lipstick and loose eye shadow samples. They mistakenly sent me a sample instead of the full-sized lip gloss, and I emailed them right away (I think this was Thursday), and I received the full-sized lip gloss today, yay for good customer service.

The mascara is nice, not greatly thickening (fairly typical of natural mascaras, I think), but then I do not exactly have a ton of lashes, so it is probably better for them. The eye liners are lighter than the ones I had before (Dr. Hauschka, which now seem more like crayons in comparison). I love the lip gloss applicator; it is much more efficient and less wasteful than the ones with wands you dip into the tube. The eye shadows are nice (I have just tried two so far and only one color works for me, maybe), but I love sparkle (although I probably look better in matte) and these look matte on. However, most/all of the sparkly sources (Fairie Organics, Alima Pure, Willow Tree Minerals) I looked at or use contained Titanium dioxide. No. I am afraid I might just eventually have to make my own eyeshadow . . . after I use up what I have. I have not tried the lip pencil. I liked the matte look of the "Target" lipstick, but the color is wrong for me (I cannot seem to wear a great variety of colors, boo), so yay for samples.

The prices are QUITE reasonable for natural stuff. Most (if not all) natural stuff at this price range is not even close to completely natural. All in all I am pretty satisfied.

Here are some of my products (they are sent in those bags)

Cowgirl Dirt is having a massive sweepstakes event until the end of this month also.

Ingredient lists for these items
Mascara: Water, Candelilla Wax, Organic Beeswax, Glycerin, Glyceryl Stearate (coconut derived), Aloe Vera, Proprietary Herbal Extract Blend, Grapefruit Seed Extract, Iron Oxide, Mica.
Eye Shadow: Zinc Oxide, Boron Nitride, Mica, Vegetable derived Magnesium Stearate, Certified Organic Vegetable Starch, Pure Pearl Powder, Silk Powder, Certified Organic Neem Extract, Certified Organic Olive Extract, Certified Organic Raspberry Extract, Comfrey derived Allantoin. (May contain: Ultramarines, Mica, Iron Oxides, Tin Oxides). Note: Eye shadow Troubador contains Carmine.  
Mud Slinger Eye Liner Pencil: Organic Jojoba, Organic Castor Oil, Organic Beeswax, Candellila Wax, Iron Oxides, Mica and Vitamin E.
Yeehaw Lip Stick: Certified Organic Castor Oil, Certified Organic Beeswax, Olive Emulsifiers, Avocado Butter, Certified Organic Shea Butter, Certified Organic Coconut Oil, Certified Organic Olive Oil, Certified Organic Jojoba Oil, Certified Organic Pomegranate Oil, Natural Vitamin E, Stevia Leaf Extract. (May contain 100% Natural Fruit Extracts or Essential Oils of Raspberry, Pomegranate, Sweet Orange & Lime, Iron Oxides, Mica, Zinc Oxide, Carmine, or Manganese Violet). *Note: Secretariat and Cash shades contain Carmine for a portion of their natural coloring.
Bodacious Botanical Lip Gloss: Certified Organic Castor Oil, Certified Organic Beeswax, Organic Coconut Oil, Castor Wax, Natural Stevia Extract, Certified Organic Green Tea Extract, Natural Vitamin E Oil, Certified Organic Rosemary Extract, Certified Organic Pomegranate Extract (+/- Mica, Certified Organic Sweet Orange Essential Oil, Certified Organic Raspberry Extract, Certified Organic Peppermint Oil, Certified Organic Spearmint Oil, Vanilla CO2). *Note: The Udderly Mauve shade contains a small amount of Carmine for natural coloring.
Latigo Lip Liner Pencil: Certified Organic Castor Oil, Castor Wax, Certified Organic Shea Butter, Certified Organic Jojoba Oil, Avocado Butter, Certified Organic Carnauba Wax, Natural Vitamin E Oil, Triglycerides (coconut oil) (+/- Mica, Iron Oxides, Ultramarine, Manganese Violet). *Note: Outlaw contains the colorant 'carmine' which is not a vegan-friendly ingredient. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Fashion Post

We have had some yearly shopping trips for the ladies of Mom's big Southern family and after the last one my mom's aunt (who is actually around Mom's age) told us about an AWESOME style site:

I love the original Color Me Beautiful and the original make-up book. That first book and TLC's What Not to Wear first helped me understand style (note, I said understand; sometimes I almost have it, occasionally I will have everything together, and frequently something is wrong, and sometimes I am still in awkward style-less home-schooler land :P). Other sources such as Pinterest, fashion blogs and Good Girls Don't Have to Dress Bad helped me as well.

I still love all of these sources of course, but Inside Out Style Blog compiles and expands on everything. More body shapes are given (much more realistic than grouping everyone into four or five categories), and I think the stylist herself considers herself a mix of two. I also really appreciate the extra help for certain body areas, for example what to do for disproportionately long or short legs.

She has hairstyles for face shapes. Which I recently used to help me decide to get fairly heavy bangs, and chop off another eight-ish inches from my hair (I chopped eight off from my almost waist-length hair in May). Earrings style for face shapes. Accessory guides (I have a long waist, so to break it up I should wear wide belts in a contrasting or noticeable color).

She also has color guides, but besides finding your color she assists in putting them together. I LOVED this. Contrasting or monochromatic or triadic (I do not know exactly what the term used is). Making sure the colors match in intensity (something I did not think about, "Oh, now I know why certain outfits do not work).

I received one Thred Up order (during a major sale) and then promptly ordered another batch of clothes. I also picked up some $1 things at Clothes Mentor a couple weeks ago, most of which need to be altered or used as fabric. I also ordered three of these sweaters from Chadwicks (the square neck is a good style for my sloping shoulders); I now have five and if they continue to put out new colors I will buy more as I find more colors that suit me. My fall/winter style is already much better than last year, but the shoe and scarf category is still majorly lacking, and I need a grey coat. I think I may make some scarves from some of my thrifted items.

To top off this fashion post; I just got my second job, a job at one of our local Clothes Mentor stores!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Lorna Doone Review

I have heard complaints about the interest and quality of this novel. I looked up the author and dates; the author was a popular Victorian novelist. This leads me to believe that he intentionally chose an awkward writing style; I think the author tried to write as lucidly and correctly as a yeoman farmer of the 17th century who self-professedly was not over-bright and did not, of course, have the time or interest for intellectual pursuits uncommon to and above his station.

Anyway, I enjoyed the story and its oddity. I am curious to see what else the author wrote and how it compares (and to test my theory). This story felt like it was missing background and closure (Alan Brandir anyone?) because of the style, but I like that. This is called mystery when properly done (most exquisitely done in Sutcliff novels). Modernists feel that every detail of the plot has to "work out" and that this is part of what makes good writing. This is not so, and good writing cannot be broken down so easily into components.

Saturday, October 4, 2014


A few weeks ago I had a prolonged period of semi-successful sewing/altering. Since this mood produced a barely perceptible dent in my sewing/alterations mountains, I need to motivate myself into another one.

I bought this silk and cotton J. Jill skirt from Ashley at Bramblewood Fashion during one of her Shop My Closet sales. I decided to shorten it since it hit at an awkward length on me. I do not have a very good before photo. I probably should not have done a rolled hem because of the ruffly nature of the hem (and it was a new skill learned this sewing frenzy period). Oh, well. Maybe I will fix it somehow eventually.

I ordered the materials to make a white and a cream extender slips quite a while ago. I put this white one under a full skirt, and my sister said I looked like a lacy cupcake. In addition to being too full, the skirt was also crooked. I learned from my mistakes and the cream one is much better (but still not the greatest), but most of my mistakes are usually out of thoughtlessness and impatience which means I have wasted a lot of time and material. These are not genuine mistakes, but laziness.

Much improved.

I made the red skirt for my little sister after tearing out the terrible work done by a much more hasty sister (yeah, runs in the family). Months ago I shortened a pink skirt I had handed down to another sister, and so this sewing period I made an infinity scarf out of the left-overs. I found a grey silk dress at Goodwill and turned it into a slip for which I need to find grey lace to make into another extender slip.  I finished a partially made baby dress someone gave us. Sugarplum, our older cat, likes to climb on our table and sit on the fabric. When she is hiding from Mumford (our spoiled little kitty princeling), she sits in the chairs.

I am thankful for what I did get done, and I learned and practiced two new skills: French seams and rolled hems.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Knitting, Reading, Listening

I am participating in the yarn along here again.

I am of course both reading and knitting more than one book and project, but I will try to post the other items next week. Forgive any crooked photos; my personal computer is dead, and so my iphone set-up is not the same. I started out using this baby dress pattern and downsized on the needles and cut out a leaf at the top, but now I am winging it. Yikes.

I have been listening to my younger sisters' Adventures in Odyssey. I always for get how wonderful this audio series is!

Here are some projects I finished since the last knitting post. I had most of one of the silver gloves and all of one of the purple gloves done already. All the beret and finger-less glove sets are done in time for fall! I will have to post a photo of them all together. I made the headband with one of the balls of yarn I bought in N.C. and still have some left which at the moment I want to try to use for baby slippers, perhaps with the purple yarn from my finger-less gloves (this pattern, and it has some errors in the final ribbed rows, but I love this pattern the best so far; the gloves are sooo pretty on)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Importance of Being Earnest Movie

I watched this with a group of people a couple months ago. I read the play last year, but I forgot a lot of it although I know I laughed aloud while reading it.

Algie is my favorite (I think he was my favorite in the play too or I liked him more than I thought I would; I am one of those main character loyalty people); oh, my I just loved his goofy facial expressions. I just do not think that Colin Firth acts at all well. This is the third film in which I have seen him act, and he just does not seem totally different in any of his roles, but maybe I am being too picky. He is just not very animated.

Cicely was funny and her clothes were pretty; her simplicity and naivety were hilarious and nice. Gwendolyn had a pretty outfit or two, but I did not like her character (I do not think I liked her much in the book either); she was a bit of diva.

The kissing was uncomfortably close to making-out, and the filmmakers added a weird tattooing issue into the plot which was totally bizarre especially regarding the social class and time period involved (I think that sailors still monopolized that market at that point in history).

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Daisy Chain Review

I feel like this novel is Victorian in the conventional and derogatory understanding. I found the story interesting, but the author wrote in an extremely moralistic and sanctimonious (and unorthodox) style. Anglicanism consists of morals and works and not faith and grace, and the author wrote under the influence of the Oxford movement in Anglicanism which made the practices even more Catholic.

I found the worship of academic knowledge (it is KNOWLEDGE not INTELLIGENCE although that and/or DILIGENCE can speed the accession of knowledge) obnoxious.* The novel displayed such inconsistency and in trying to provide meaning the author made so much futile. How can you speak of intelligence, Classical and diligent study, and spiritual things when you rely on the Church of England rather than the ancient Bible and do not read and study that carefully?! Try for school honors, but oh, be humble and do not point out Richard's stupidity (?!). Ethel studies Latin and Greek (why?!). They (Norman especially) are haughty about the poor and yet talk so much about spiritual and moral concepts. Dr. May's parenting is awful. Edith is a lazy slob; her falsely spiritual "spirit-above-matter" attitude was prideful and absurd.

Also, the disparity in intelligence I found ludicrous. I am sorry, but unless a child is mentally handicapped, there is no great disparity in overall intelligence among children of the same family such as displayed in this novel. Richard was labelled dull so many times that I want to strangle the author, his father, Ethel, and Norman all together.

Oh, and when an author destroys a match . . . !!!!!! I do not care if Ethel was annoying, I still wanted her to marry Norman Ogilvie. Main character loyalty strikes again. Oh, I could foresee it, but I was so infuriated.

I know that no novel is perfect and England had (has?) an insincere morality and false honor code, but the author did not weave these assumptions in the book in a subconscious manner, they rather punched me in the face. Think much better written Elsie Dinsmore.

I could not enjoy the story for the style.

*More on this topic in future.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Othello Mini-Review

Again, a required read for class. My professor pointed out that Iago was the most interesting and developed character and this notification and the fact that we watched clips of the film version in which Kenneth Branagh plays Iago, caused me to really think that he alone was a interesting character. Okay not quite, Cassio caught my interest and someone very interesting played him in his younger days; I hope there is a video recording available somehow. Cassio at first appears a good character, but I think that he was rake. (What was the whole point of the mistress scene? He is immoral and cruel). Othello and Desdemona are flat and boring (as the professor taught us to see), and Iago, Cassio, and even Desdemona's thwarted suitor and father seem to have more interest. Of course what I saw of the movie aided/formed those impressions.

Rather heavy sexual crudity.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Mary Barton Review

I tried to read this novel years ago and ended up just skimming it. I read it for my British history class, and our professor said that this was Gaskell's first novel. That might help explain why I found it harder to enjoy than her other "great" novels. I did like it better this time around though. I think the first time I thought Mary was going to capitulate if Harry Carson had not been killed.

Mary was an irritating little snob . . . and the way she treated poor Jim! She was a fool in the beginning, but she ended up being quite heroic (which is annoying because this was painted on rather heavily). Jim still deserved soooo much better though.

The action and plot were interesting, more so than the characters who were rather flat and stock. The description of the charaters and overall tone made the book seem rather sanctimonious in tone (which the author intended as my professor indicated, in a more positive way, remember this was a HISTORY class; we have to have preaching about social issues). I think that when novels (and movies) are action focused to the point of style and characterization degradation, the quality is quite low. Also, please show rather than preach.*

The whole factory/mill master and workers situation seems to intrigue me in novels. My professor stated (after I brought up the better, in my opinion, North and South) that Gaskell received quite a bit of criticism for Mary Barton and probably toned down North and South for that reason  . . . because of course any balance and positive light to the upper and/or master classes is wrong!  In North and South the story displays so many sides of the question and the author's bias is less obvious (or, if possible nonexistent) which makes the story so very fascinating.

*I say do not preach because no one ever seems to preach truth in novels.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Carry On Jeeves Mini-Review

This book is the best of the Jeeves and Wooster books so far. I thought this mixed the best of both worlds. Bertie was more human and Jeeves more Jeeves (although I missed some of the descriptiveness of the first book). The stories had more variety in type. I skipped a few stories because they were the same as some in My Man Jeeves except in this one Wodehouse changed the names to Jeeves and Wooster where applicable.

The last story . . . I could die. And it is written in Jeeves's perspective. He was quite calculating and cruel. I need to see these shows.

I only listed the first three Jeeves and Wooster novels for which I am thankful because although I will continue to read them, I do not find them deep enough to review easily.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Inimitable Jeeves Mini-Review

Jeeves remained in the background in this book, and this book contained fewer hilarious descriptions of him which I found disappointing. A few of the stories focused on Bertie exclusively, but they mostly seemed to revolve around his friend Bingo Little who constantly dragged Bertie into his scrapes. Bertie seemed more of a person than a caricature in this book which I appreciated. I did not find this book uproariously funny, but I did enjoy it.

Oh, and you will meet the ancestors of the best twins, Gred and Forge of course, in the world.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Ormond Review

I did not like this novel. A weak, unworthy character and circumstantial salvation/restoration/development of moral character.

A lady with a nice son and daughter tries reforming a wild young man, Ormond, after someone is nearly killed. Ormond takes a tiny step and then slides into philandering.

He then is fascinated by a empty-headed doll. He sees through her. He does not. Does he ever? He is saved from marrying her when she marries another, but since he did not break with her . . . not pleasing. (Unfortunately he is not actually saved from her and what is worse he does not save himself which would have prevented all future problems).

Now a polished but morally weak young man (whitewashed tomb anyone?), he is reacquainted with the honorable family (and much more slowly than before) falls in love with the daughter. The son dies (what was his point in the story . . . aiding the romance?). Ormond sees another man making a proposal, jumps to the wrong conclusion (although his lady should have chosen that more worthier man . . . yet I had that main-character-loyalty for him that made me want them to marry), and runs away (wow, way to really pursue with perseverance) . . . to France and the married empty-headed doll.

He is at the point of becoming the lover of the horrible doll when he is called away on business affairs (like I said, circumstantial salvation and morality). Eventually after confusion is sorted out he marries the lady.

The match does not feel like a love match because of the intensity of Ormond's emotions with the horrid doll and the fact that more emphasis is given to Ormond and the horrid doll's connection, actions, reactions, conversations, etc than to those between him and his future wife. The style of writing devoted to any of the real couple scenes is cursory in contrast the style of writing involving Ormond and the horrid girl which evokes a feeling of intensity. (Are there any conversations between him and his future wife?! Or is it just descriptions, and brief,  for-information rather than for-illustration descriptions at that). Ugh.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

King Lear Mini-Review

I read this for my Shakespeare class. This is one of my least favorite of Shakespeare's plays; one of the worst Shakespeare plays, I think. I "had" to read it for a class and dissect it,  and that certainly did not invite me to enjoy the play, but I still do not think I would have enjoyed it much anyway.

I felt like this play had so many characters, but I am not sure that it contained any more than other plays, but the impression probably came from the fact that no characters really stood far and above any others in development and importance. The play has one and only one truly likable character and that is, Edgar, the legitimate son of Gloucester, and he does not dominate any more than does anyone else. Any other tolerable characters rarely appear.

The play is mainly coarseness, vileness, and death, and Lear, the one wronged, is an egotistical old fool, so it is rather difficult to feel sorry for him. Shakespeare set this play in pre-Christian Britain, and the play is more brutal, senseless, and hopeless (which was a point in our class, and I think something of the point for our last essay) than Shakespeare's other plays. Edgar  and some good and "better" characters survive amid the wreck and ruin, but I did not really know those characters; they just existed. The play is rather blah overall.

Sexual crudity included of course.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Clouds of Witness Review

Ah, yet again I could have published somewhat closer to when I read this novel, but as you can see from past published reviews I am working on this.

Well, I do like variety. This mystery was quite different from the first one. The story felt more human and personal . . . as it certainly had to be for Lord Peter, and later Parker, given the nature of the story. I feel like the first novel is the formal introduction while the second novel pitches you headlong into friendship with Lord Peter. I like that mimicry of life in style, but I think that the acquaintance should have been slower especially since it is British.

Anyway, the mystery was greater in this novel than the mystery in the first. And the explanation less intellectually satisfying to the same degree. Instead of the "how" as in the first book, the focus is on the "who," "why," and etc. More the traditional mystery story approach.

I strongly dislike the false honor and delicacy stance (as ascertained from literature, oh what trustworthy source, this is the traditional British honor code). The duke committed adultery and it is not honor to hide the other person, it is deceit. (He who covers his sin will not prosper . . . Proverbs 28:13). If he really wanted to protect her honor, he would not have had the affair in the first place. Duh. This ugly immorality and false morality darkened the whole story, and the final scene of drunkenness which could have been humorous (cringe-worthy humor to some, but still humor*) merely dragged everything down more with that behavior and flippancy.

*I realize drunkenness is a sin, but I do not consider it harmful here and although in real life it is disgusting at best and murder at worse, it is rather funny in fiction. Judge me, and do not laugh at Otis :/

P.S. Despite the sanctimonious tone of my review, I did enjoy the novel. Um, it is Lord Peter we are talking about people!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Adam Bede Mini-Review

I came to this novel in almost perfect ignorance of the story. I highly recommend this method. I learned a little from the chapter titles (I love chapter titles although these could have been improved in the creative aspect) and through fill-in-the-sequence logic, but I still found myself totally unprepared for certain events and aspects.

This is the author's first published novel and although sometimes sections of the story seem "artificial" or disjointed, the incongruity is slight and probably heightened by my sensitivity about said sections. I think the story read well despite these wrinkles.

Be careful with this. There is ill-placed/sorted blame, excusing, and dehumanizing elements. Great sin is lessened. The topic has been taken further today, and this story in the hands of a modernist or post-modernist would be depraved, and the conduct misconstrued (lessened) further.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Whose Body Review

Despite writing notes during/soon after reading Whose Body and typing them up weeks ago, I am just now editing and publishing them. I need to publish current reviews and procrastinated reviews (if that is not an adjective yet it should be) at the same time. I will improve, I will, I will! (Said like "I do believe in fairies!" of course!)

Lord Peter is the Sir Percy of mysteries and Bunter is his Jeeves. I am guessing Lord Peter was in WWI with Parker (who is more of the Sherlock Lestrade than the original Lestrade is; Sugg is like or worse than the original Lestrade), whom Lord Peter calls by his first name after his (Lord Peter's) relapse, thus revealing that they are good friends and not just friendly business associates (I love that artistic detail and what it reveals). What a spoiled boy Lord Peter is (kind of like Shawn in Psych).

I suspected Freke but still found the story interesting. I do not like that Lord Peter gave Freke the chance to kill himself. (This is the most sickening murder imaginable and you warn the criminal, because of your own ego? "I found you out."? "He is a great man so warn him"? "I feel bad so warn him"? And all of Lord Peter's qualms about suspecting Milligan . . . rules rather than morals, I suppose). I am in love with Lord Peter although this received quite a chill thanks to the above. This was such a cold-blooded, long premeditated murder. And the confession plus details (dissection especially) made it quite freaky.

The switch to 2nd person was intriguing, especially because of the depth and different outlooks these switches added:
        ~The poor young man and his blunders; most authors do not allow inferior people feelings or such a sense of their own blunders.
        ~Lord Peter and the freaky scene, reverting back to WWI, AWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The name switch is in this scene too which intensifies the sense of Lord Peter's fear.

The mystery is not outrageously convoluted and unbelievable. The method and  manner of the crime are what provided the shock to the senses. The absolute callous depravity of the sociopathic and psychopathic murdererhe intended to have his "work" published (!). Unlike a Christie novel, the characters in this novel are developed, each is a person and not primarily a tool in a mystery plot.

I hope there is more mystery (I have since discovered that there is) in other novels of the series, but I think that constant drama (especially of the overwrought Christie variety) is too much, and I find it refreshing that a more realistic murder story can be presented. This story rested more on finding evidence and learning how the murderer committed the crime than on finding the murderer.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Absentee Review

As you can surmise from the title, some of the content of this novel dwells on the problem of absenteeism of Irish landlords (in the 18th and 19th centuries). The young hero, Columbre, discovers the worth of his native land and sees firsthand some of the issues caused by his father's absence. His mother wastes money trying to outstrip her London acquaintances in glamour, and so she stands in the way of the careful stewardship of the family's Irish estates. For money and vanity she also stands in the way of her son's love match.

Circumstantial salvation saves the day (erg). While in Ireland Columbre almost falls prey to a scheming mother and daughter, despite being warned by an older person, and he only escapes after overhearing the schemers (the worst of this circumstantial salvation). His match prospers (I do not think he falls in love until well into the novel, and after the Irish trip) because the lady his mother intends him to marry discovers the love match and is too dignified and generous to disrupt it (I think she too marries for love eventually; I like when every decent character finds love and am disappointed when it does not occur). And I think Columbre's mother is convinced to move back to Ireland only after realizing how low her London acquaintances think of her. I do not know, but I do not think that she should have been allowed to waste money and force a marriage just because she is the mother (I do not think the father exerted much will-power although I think he was alive).

I am sorry for another scrambled review from a book I read quite a while ago.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Miracle Movie Review

Brief synopsis: this film portrays the story behind the 1980 American college-aged Olympic hockey team and the path to victory at the Olympics.

I missed the first part of the movie since I did not really intend to watch much of it. I just came down for the Dots (the most fake candy ever, but whatever). I am glad that I stayed; this film completely deserves the description of "the best sports movie ever." As always I liked the details, the daily life type scenes, the switching back and forth between types of scenes and/or characters, and the mini-plot lines. None of the scenes (except a pointedly long coach method scene, which is epic) lasted terribly long which is great for this girl.

The 1970's style is hilariously interesting. The hair, the mustaches, and the coach's plaid flare pants which my sisters hated. The film includes flashes of news events (this was the Cold War era).

The coach, Brooks is hilarious (in one conversation with his wife he is listing members of the intimidating Soviet team and ends with "Whatever-off"). His unconventional methods of coaching (which he could never get away with today in this era of easily offended people) are hilarious also. I found it amusing to watch the assistant coach; he at first finds Brook's methods troubling until he understands (in the epic long scene). I like the various means Brook uses to develop the team USA mentality. Brooks' method of dealing with the obnoxious press is quite satisfying (I love when people do not break for irritating and/or nosy people) and humorous, especially his answer to one reporter's accusation of self-focus. I appreciate the fact that the assistant coach supports him in his attitude toward the press.

I enjoyed how the pieces of the players back stories, their personalities, and their relationship unfold in conversations and in actions: the fight between rival college players; the way the players start to stick together against the coach's aggravation methods; the tear-stained face of one player badly injured just days before the Olympics; and after the anthem during the medal ceremony, the team captain calls the rest of the team over. I love the team building.

I appreciated that the film does not show all the games; the point of the exhibition time is the team building and then the first Soviet-American confrontation. Only the significant portions of the Olympic games are shown with key actions, reactions, plays, and injuries emphasized. I enjoy sports highlights, so this is more interesting to me than whole sports games.

At the end photos of the actors in character are shown with notes on the actual players' later careers. I did not catch this until Googling the movie, but one actor played his dad. That is awesome. And the actors did not just have auditions, but tryouts; therefore, many of them had backgrounds in hockey at some level (and one actor did not have any film experience).

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Hard Times Review

This novel caught my interest faster than the other Dickens' novels that I have read. A brief glance at either the preface or introduction indicated that this novel is about a quarter the size of some of his other works which explains the lack of filler and tedious drag of plot and/or over-filled plot. I wonder if this work is short because not written as a serial? Anyway, for a Dickens' read to to start so smoothly and proceed so quickly I found quite refreshing. 

 A note of caution. Readers easily absorb the outlooks of an author especially when the author does not consciously state his world-view but rather displays his concepts of morality in the tone, action, and outcome of the story. I do not agree with Dickensian reasoning and morality always, especially in regards to the personal responsibility question which is an issue in this novel. The major issue in this novel for me regarded Louisa. Louisa was to blame for what she was and what she did. People are not merely acted upon by others; they also make choices, and Mr. Gradgrind neither could control Louisa's thoughts nor did he force her marry Mr. Bounderby; he did not really attempt to even strongly persuade really.

I found the mini-plot stories and the characters quite interesting (I apparently have a thing for mills and factory towns and master/worker strugglesNorth and South, Shirley, Mary Barton . . . ). I greatly appreciated the redemption of Louisa; she, unlike so many in her position, literally followed the Biblical principle to "flee sexual immorality." I also appreciated the belated repentance of Tom (whom I liked better than Louisa; Tom had to bear all his responsibility and his father did not receive much or any blame, quite unlike the Louisa situation). I found the obnoxious absurdity of Mr. Bounderby and the ludicrously extreme nosiness of Mrs. Sparsit quite well-executed, but Dickens' applied his humor, which is always rather grim, rather darkly in this novel. I found the mortifying of Mr. Harthouse quite satisfying. The story had no wholly good romance (certainly no happy one) and ended sadly (although less gloomily than much of the plot seemed to indicate), yet I still enjoyed it.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Story Girl Review

Montgomery wrote with her usual luminous, magical style of simplicity and enchantment, weaving in nature's beauty with an artist and poet's skill. I love the charactersboth their uniqueness in themselves and their overall types. I love the freedom and silliness and jolliness and innocence of the children's escapades. Their view of grownups and the grownups treatment/reaction to them. The little fights, trials, adorations/admirations, and skills. I love this sort of homespun story with sparkle. The world of these children is so different from ours.

Friday, August 8, 2014

My Birthday, The Hollow Crown, Knitting, and Etc.

I do not want to write a review of The Hollow Crown (the first play is overwhelmingly evil, and the last two are painfully wonderful; this is my mini-review), but since I mentioned The Hollow Crown previously, I feel duty compelled to give a warning as there are content issues in all (in varying intensities). If you are super oblivious, perhaps you could avoid reading and miss the problems; if you read warnings you will catch the problems.

ANYWAY. Back to not-mind-contorting fun.

I have four (yes, FOUR!!!) finished knitting projects to show. This also means that I have only three in my unfinished/will do soon category before I can start on new projects.


From top left clockwise.

The last beret! I like this pattern best (Little Flower Beret or Tam). The beret is larger, the head band area is smaller (less like a beanie, ugh, girls should NEVER wear beanies-so unfeminine, and only a few types of guys can pull them off), and the design is gorgeous (I purposely used this my-least-favorite yarn for the prettiest pattern) . . . even though hard to see because of the color.

Next is the forever pink sweater which is quite tight but can at least go on me. If I tried this pattern again, I would need to go up a size. I think I might want to go up another size more and downsize on the needles since I prefer a tighter knit. The neckline is too tight and not flattering period; I would make it more of a scoop.

White cuffs (Hetty's Sunday Cuffs from the Jane Austen Knits magazine, May 2012; also available to purchase and download here) to match the white beret for my youngest sister. I had to go up a needle size and probably could have gone up another. I knit tight, but I think these also must have been sized small because the cuffs are still tight. I mean I know we have largish hands in our family, but I do not have issues with the fingerless glove patterns I have tried.

Pink cowl for a gift (part of my longest ever gift procrastination . . . think like a decade :/). Do not look closely at this. I found this changing project irritating for a variety of reasons and so made up a stitch pattern and did not try to remedy all the mistakes (which it is a pain and sometimes danger to do with this yarn because it is easily destroyed). Oh, and despite the weird tinge of my iPhone app photo, the cowl is really just a light cotton candy pink.

Ah, yes. I bought new yarn, sue me. Probably not enough in each ball for a complete project, so I will have to order more which requires a huge order because of course I must get the discounts! Oops :)

I bought a lovely binder, so I can carefully store all my patterns in page protectors instead of dragging around the paper/magazines/leaflets and destroying them.


I turned 24 recently, so we had a girls' shopping day. I picked out loads of items from Half-Price and that was my gift from Mom. My brother gave me a Kohl's gift card and my grandparents $50 (yarn?!) and a blouse. The cupcake is from Panera where we had lunch. Oh, and the box I bought from T.J. Maxx. I love these types of boxes. They are so elegant.