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.