Monday, December 19, 2016

Blogmas Winter Tag


❄ Top 2 Winter Beauty Essentials
Lotion and lotion stick (I use lip balm year round).  My hands literally drink up regular lotion in a few minutes, so I try to use a couple rounds. I carry a lotion stick which is really thick balm that I can put on the top of my hands without getting my fingertips and palms sticky.

❄ Top 2 Winter Fashion Essentials
Winter is hard fashion-wise for me. Tights and coats.  

❄ Favorite Winter Accessory
Shawls worn as scarves 

❄ Favorite Winter Nail Polish
Nail polish doesn't last between my hand-washing and dish washing and hand-crafts.  

❄ Hot Cocoa or Apple Cider?
Hot Cocoa with tons of marshmallows. We had multi-pack of different flavors of Swiss Miss chocolate, and I loved the French Vanilla and white chocolate for a change.

❄ Favorite Winter Candle?
I'm not a candle person (that requires more presence of mind) . . . or really a scent person (sensory overload happens quickly for me with sound and scent), but I do like a whiff of vanilla or cinnamon now and then.

❄ Snowboarding or Skiing?
I've tried neither. I'm scared of ski-lifts and am sure I would tear a muscle or tendon or impale myself on skis. I might try skis or snowboarding (seems less dangerous and more interesting but my sister said it is much harder).

❄ Have you ever gone Ice Skating? Are you any good or do you FAIL miserably?
Yes, and I enjoy it. I would like to take lessons like my sisters did for fun.

❄ Does it snow where you live?
Yes, but the most snow occurs in January and February. We usually have a light snow and green Christmas at the end of the year and big snow and ice-storms at the beginning of the year. 

❄ Have you ever made a snowman?
Yes, but we seem to get a lot of sandy snow, so its usually not very easy. Also, most of us are not super interesting in that at our age.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Girls Gifting

I spoke a bit about my "gifting philosophy" on the guys gifting post. Many of my gifts this year are knitted. I don't make huge or complicated knitted gifts for people who could care less, but I do like saving money, so I have been trying to save money and stash bust on smaller gifts. My larger gifts will be appreciated. As I've yet to finish the Christmas gifts, I will save those for another post.

My pride and joy gift is the photobook from Mixbook that I made for my Mom. I just received it today (12/9) which was earlier than anticipated. I picked the matte hardcover in the largest landscape size (11 by 14 inches), and I added a couple of pages, but with all the discounts I paid just under $50 (and I think the girls will agree to help pay), and its SO professional looking. Mom will cry. I'm so pleased. I'm definitely going to make me one for our trip . . . and any other trip I go on.

Here are some photos of the photobook

One of the example books featured a faded, softened photo of the Grand Canyon, and I loved that, so I shamelessly copied it. I cut off the top because it shows our last name.

I matched the faded look for the back

Grand Canyon

Mission Beach, San Diego

Zion and Arches National Parks

After I looked at all the photos as I edited them and after the girls looked at the book, several of us decided we are ready to go back. I loved just watching the landscape change through the windows, and standing in the waves, letting them knock me about.

I bought from these from annual art festival I attend. I bought one for each of my sisters.

More Gift Ideas for Women and Girls

Etsy is a treasure trove for gifts; I've bought so many nerdy gifts on there, and I bought a locket from TheBloomingThread for part of my sister's graduation gift (I think I want to get us all a locket one year; I was thinking about it for this year). One year I bought a pearl cage Cinderella carriage necklace. I bought Princess Elsa earrings for myself from this shop; I don't think they still have them, but they are lovely (you can probably view them under sales), and you could always see if you could request them.

And of course there exist all sorts of options for bookish people. The Modern Mrs. Darcy has a list, and Ginny Shellar has a list.

I love these mini nail polish kits; I've bookmarked this one, and I bought this one for my sister's birthday (and now I want one), and I only paid about $4 because we had a ton of $5 and $10 off (the percentages off didn't work for this brand).

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Gifting for Guys

My family thinks that I'm good at gifting. I think that I'm good at buying for them. My style works with knowing people well and having a good frame of reference. Also, I can do "tough love" or "tough luck" gifting with close family. With extended family and friends, overthinking hasn't always worked. Some people are just easier to buy for, too. And the less you know the person and the less you want to give a gift, the worse it becomes. I dislike buying gifts as a customary action; I need to want to give it (isn't that really the point anyway?).

My brother gets a lot of clothes which is boring, and he doesn't need us to get them, so for his birthday, I thought I would get him a few gifts that would let him branch out a bit but that were still related to his interests. We've joked about his "culture points" (we meant high culture) and mourned a bit about his lack of reading (he will read history and some other non-fiction though, which really is better anyway!), and I wanted him to branch out a bit from chain restaurants. So, I bought him Target Tokyo because it was listed as a Pulitzer history runner up, a model kit that could double as decoration, and a gift card to a local restaurant. All of it was a hit, and he hoped that I would draw his name for Christmas (I didn't).

I drew my sister's fiancé for our immediate family drawing and bought him a Groupon to a local restaurant. I also bought him Boy and Going Solo by Roald Dahl (I read the latter and greatly enjoyed it this year) because my sister (the one engaged to him) has said he liked reading but not really the hardcore history books that I'm getting for the other men of the family and he likes middlegrade like all of us girls. Dad likes reading about WWII and Papau likes many areas of history, so Dad is getting To Hell and Back (along with a coupon for all of us girls to watch The Martian with him) and Papau is getting Five Presidents (along with fruitcake).

I have come across a couple articles and videos that mention that guys like different genres; I know that sounds obvious, but I'm not talking about merely action versus romance, but fiction versus nonfiction. I knew that in my family they did, but I didn't give it much thought. I like looking at history book award lists like the Pulitzer Prize for History (don't overlook the runners up), the Francis Parkman Prize list, and the Bancroft Prize list. Dr. Moehler of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has a good book list here.

I think that nonfiction, models (or even Legos, I almost got my brother some), activities (from movies to rock-climbing), knives and tools, board games (I'll buy video games when pigs fly), and food are great basic ideas for guys, the ones in our family anyway. A lot of these categories appear on gift lists, but you have to personalize them, not just grab something if it is recommended, but if it is a category the gift receiver will like.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Blogmas: Decorating, Christmas Cards, Celebrating and Advent Calendar

I'm going to combine a couple Blogmas days as a Q and A

How do you decorate? Real Tree or Artificial Tree?

The three younger girls are the main decorating committee and they've got a nice little pattern. For the family room they decorate the tree with a light hand (we use to have an excessive amount of ornaments) and the stair railing, and we have new stockings this year (so cute). For the dinining room they put a smaller tree in the corner, put lights on the sideboard, and hang ball ornaments from the chandlier. We also have Christmas china on the table. 

We have artifical trees. We've had real a couple years. I plan on having real at my own home (and real branches for decorating), both because I prefer genuine and to cut down on storage space. I've wanted to get a little tree for my room, but I've got so much stuff the decorations would get lost. I am thinking of hanging snowflakes from the ceiling and window where they will be more noticeable.

Quiet Christmas or Family Filled Loud Party Christmas?

I think we are pretty moderate. We can get loud, but we aren't really "party" people.

Christmas Cards (do you send them, show us your favorites this year, or tells your favorite cards to send whether vintage, or bright and colorful)?

I collect pretty ones, I want to keep one of each of my favorites. I don't always send them, but they are nice to have on hand. We used one in a package we sent. I think I will send one to my grandparents for fun and maybe as a thank-you to friends for our gingerbread house decorating party.

Advent Calendar?

We have this little kiddy one from our childhood that the three little girls use now. I'd love to have a wooden one; I'm considering asking a family friend, the one who made our cedar chests, if he could make me one because I would like it to be solid and specific (long rather than square or tall). I would also like to have a chocolate advent calendar  one year.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Blogmas Day 11: Stocking Stuff Ideas Link Post

I have collected several gift posts including a few on stocking stuffers

Here is one from nourishing minimalism Gift cards, food, seeds, candy, hats, gloves, scarves, socks, etc. are good minimalist gifts.

Here is one from A Modern Mrs. Darcy I particularly love the bookish, letter writing, and artsy ideas, particularly the washi tape and pens. Stamps, stickers, paper punches, a lot of small art journal items like that are lovely.

Mom is giving seed packets to her friends, but I love the stocking stuffer idea.

Mom always gives us fruit (I LOVE when we each get our own pomegranate) and chocolate. I think we've gotten Tic Tacs before too.

The coupon idea doesn't always have to be for kids; I made one from all of us girls for Dad to watch a movie he keeps mentioning with him.

Activities are always a good idea; Mom bought the little girls ice skating necklaces and lessons one year.

Beauty items like nail polish, barrettes, and headbands are always appreciated.

A lot of these items are good for our $1 family stocking and the $5 gift exchange.

The gifts I bought my little sisters before we decided to draw names will go in their stockings (they are adorable; I will do a post of the gifts I'm giving later).

I personally would like a couple balls of "I Love This Yarn."

Saturday, December 10, 2016

A Snippet of Christmas Photos

From my art journal.

 My Christmas Entertainment Basket, some movies and books that I own and some from two libraries. I think I'm set.

Photo from a friend

The chimney was my sister's idea. Do you like my glass, especially the stained glass? I had more elaborate dreams, but this is pretty cute anyway. Thankfully my friend got the above photo because when I came home a little had fallen so I fixed it and then instead of wisely taking the photo right away cleaned up a bit, heard a noise and . . .

It tasted quite yummy.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Christmas Break

I bought my final Christmas gifts on Tuesday (I think) and then finished school on Wednesday. This feels like freedom, but I only had to work intensively (and I mean intensively in my terms) the last like 3 weeks, because I'm a procrastination queen. I was reading a Buzzfeed (shDould really stop) compilation about the tragedies of college, and I wondered, "o people really find it that hard?" I'd only be crying if I had to write a term paper in um, a very short amount of time, not because I was loaded with work all the rest of the time (short papers are a breeze), but because I dread long papers and am, as aforementioned, a procrastination queen. I was the one that gave myself (or my Hermione Granger sister*) mini-heart attacks because I was printing papers off moments before class, or, as the case this semester, uploading a paper and PowerPoint 5" until midnight (when it was due). How much is a really loaded course and how much is procrastination? That's what I want to know. I almost always took 18 credits (more two semesters). I guess if you have a decent job it is hard, but I still don't think I would've found it so had I to work more hours, I had so much time left. I feel like it was all me.

Anyway, despite not having a hard semester, I feel like saying, "I'm free!!!!!" Except I have several knitted Christmas gifts to do. I just finished an adorable cupcake hat for a belated birthday present and a week or so ago a cowl for another gift. I will probably do a lump post of knitted items once I get the Christmas ones done (they won't see them).

I also plan on purging. I've got stacks of books I need to return or sell, I want to go through my paper crafts and art stuff again. And my sewing. I need to work on my art journal (and show it here) too. I want to consign our bridesmaid dresses from my brother's wedding since they are all in my closet! (I need to show the dress I got for my sister's wedding, too).

I've got several items of baking on my holiday bucket list. The week after next we have our cookie exchange. I'm making these cookies (I found them here, via Blogmas). I also want to make good fruitcake for my grandparents; last year Papau was a bit annoyed by all the jokes surrounding fruitcake, and he and Mamau said a local company, decades ago, made lovely versions. I think I've bookmarked Alton Brown's recipe.

In addition to the loads of movies I obtained from our libraries, I also requested some Christmas books. I have a few, but I would like to expand my Christmas reading experience. I received some help from this post.

*She's Hermione as to schoolwork and grades, but I'm the in class know-it-all Hermione; I've been ignored for talking too much, but then there were the classes where I said hardly a peep, looking at you "Environmental History of the U.S." Course selections stank badly for such a regulated program). My littlest sisters having been having a Harry Potter marathon. I joined in some although I'm rather sick of the movies. 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Blogmas Day 3: Christmas Wishlist

I am probably going to catch up because I don't want to do the next few. I am linking up here.

For this past birthday I put together a wishlist because I am so picky that I'm difficult to buy for. I got three things off of it!!!! I updated it and sent it out for Christmas, so I'm hoping I will get more off of it. I put things that are fairly easy to find (except the calligraphy pens) because I can get a lot of my picky stuff myself (like luxury yarns, shoes, jewelry, etc.), and I made sure I made it organized and simple with enough for the giver to be able to choose but not enough to be overwhelmed.

One thing I want to buy this season is sparkly paper and silver cord to make snowflakes and cinnamon candy canes. And perhaps I can find the teeny-tiny white fairy lights I want on sale and Mixbook might go on sale again (although that is too much spending).


Cinderella Soundtrack
Grandma’s German Cookbook (publisher is DK; isbn is 978-0-7566-9432-6)
Madeleine pan
The Shop Around the Corner (with James Stewart)

Handbag Designer 101 (by Emily Blumenthal)
Spätzle maker
The Hollow Crown Trilogy (Shakespearean plays with Tom Hiddleston)
Piano Guys Album “Wonderful”
The Dressmaker's Handbook of Couture Sewing Techniques (By Lynda Maynard)
Left-Handed Calligraphy Pens (these: FP95. Manuscript Beginner's Set or FP90. Manuscript Deluxe FP Set; choose LH under size)

Taylor Swift Albums “Fearless” and “Speak Now”
The Book Thief (hardback)
Wooden Springerle and Spekulatius cookie molds

Pirates of the Caribbean Soundtracks “The Curse of the Black Pearl” and “At World’s End” (I have the middle one already
Festive Baking: Holiday classics in the Swiss, German, and Austrian tradition (isbn is 978-0385197311)
“I Love This Yarn” brand of cotton yarn from Hobby Lobby

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Blogmas Day Two: Christmas Movies List

I am linking up here.

We of course watch tons of Hallmark, I will write more about that in another post. I thought I should make more of an effort to watch non-Hallmark movies, especially childhood favorites and Christmas classics.

~Mickey's Christmas Carol
~Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Songs (I bough a vhs because the DVD version has changes :( Ruining childhood memories, Disney!
~Christmas Sing Along (I though this one and the above were combined until we watched it this year and my sister pointed out that we had two sing alongs when we were little; this was not the favorite)
~How the Grinch Stole Christmas
~White Christmas
~Hans Brinker (well, we'll see, "our" version is harder to find and expensive!)
~Its a Wonderful Life I watched this a decade ago and didn't like it, so I thought I had better try it again. I highly doubt it will ever come close to White Christmas though.

Never Watched Before
~Holiday Inn
~A Charlie Brown Christmas
~The Polar Express
~Miracle on 34th Street
~The Bishop's Wife
~The Holiday
Any others that I read about that interest me.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Blogmas 2016

I enjoyed Blogtober, I think prompts and link-ups like that are fun . . . if I can pick and choose. Also, I like the idea of Christmas posts but felt too pressured by my 12 days of Christmas all in a row. So, I was pleased to find this Blogmas event going on. I will follow along, picking and choosing at my own will. Today I'm going to do the tag.

Whats Your Favourite Holiday Movie?

I love White Christmas. I feel like I haven't seen enough Christmas movies to have a "favorite" plus I'm more of a "favorites" person.

Whats Your Favourite Christmas Color?

I think it depends. I am not usually a fan of only red and green together; I like have more neturals and metals to soften the effect.

Do You Like To Stay in Your PJs Or Dress Up For Christmas?

I like pajamas in the morning when emptying our stockings and then dressing up when we go to Mamau and Papau's for lunch. 

If You Could Only Buy One Person a Present This Year Who Would It Be?

I couldn't do one person, that wouldn't seem fair. I like buying for my littlest sisters.

Do You Open Your Present Christmas Eve Or Christmas Morning?

We celebrate with extended family on Christmas Eve, immediate family on Christmas morning, and grandparents at midday on Christmas. My brother is now married and my sister will be married by next Christmas, so we will probably adjust some. And since Christmas is on Sunday, this year will be different too.

What Do You Like To Do On Your Christmas Break?

Usually, try to get myself into a sugar coma and binge on Hallmark and work on last minute Christmas and sale shopping. I've still got finals, so I cannot see past Wednesday, but I do want to purge (haha), watch a list of Christmas movies plus Hallmark, read some Christmas stories, and bake Christmas goodies. I also have baby and Christmas knitting I need to work on.

Any Christmas Wishes?

A good year? A fun Christmas? A Boyfriend for Christmas (ha, and I'd take that boyfriend).  

Favorite Christmas Smell?

Peppermint, chocolate, cinnamon, its hard to pick.  

Favourite Christmas Meal Or Treat?

Dad makes home-made cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning breakfast. For sweets, peppermint fudge, truffles, and meringue Christmas trees (all home-made of course). I prefer ham and deviled eggs for my Christmas protein. And we usually have plenty of lovely sides.

What are you doing for the holidays this year?

All of our family is around here, so we stay.

What’s your favourite holiday drink?

Hot chocolate. I don't like cider and cannot remember trying eggnog.  

Candy cane or Gingerbread men?

That's hard, I would probably go with cinnamon candy canes. We had those years ago, and I loved them. I need to get me some at some point.  

What’s your favourite holiday/Christmas song?

I have favorites and of course cannot think of them all (I want to make a list because I don't even know all the titles).

What is most important to you about the holidays?

I enjoy picking out gifts (and I've gained a family reputation for being good at it, but that's because I've developed it; trust me, over-thinking can backfire). I enjoyed the food and family time and watching gift-opening (we always wait turns and watch and its so much fun and really doesn't take too much time).

Friday, December 2, 2016

Personality Link Love

"I'm not a psychopath, Anderson, I'm a highly functioning sociopath; do your research." But is he really? Are the two disorders clearly defined and distinct?

And while we are on EQ, IQ, and manipulation, how is this for disturbing?

I love the four temperaments. I think the descriptors are easily defined, observed, and layered. I took a paper test long ago which numbered my level of each. I need to dig that I out, but this I know, I'm choleric most (don't need a test for that). Here is a description and links. Kindred Grace has tons of nice resources and articles on personality.

Introversion is really popular, at least on the Internet. But are you really an introvert . . . or are you an ambivert . . . or a narcissist?! Do we really want to know that last answer? All controversy aside, I really appreciate this new term (is it new?), ambivert, because introversion and extroversion are two extremes of a contiuum and there are many intensities and there has to be a middle. I'm an ambivert, not from balance more from being a pendulum. I would say most of my family is on the introvert-ambivert side in varying intensities . . . except my brother, Tigger, who is ambivert-extrovert.

Speaking of Winnie the Pooh.

And since we're on Pinterest, how is this for hysterical . . . Meyer-Briggs personalities in love?

Back to disorders or conditions, except this one is interesting and imaginative, so I am not sure it should be called a disorder or conditions: synesthesia. I first heard about this from Ultraviolet. No one has it at this level, this is imaginative fiction.

I've only recently heard about the enneagram, the more tests, the better, as far as I'm concerned; I find everything about personality fascinating.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Christmas Season Bucket List

~Make a real tiny gingerbread house (cottage rather). I've pinned so many ideas. I want to use mostly icing and chocolate

~Participate again in the Christmas cookie exchange

~Try a couple variations of hot chocolate

~Bake a fruitcake for Mamau and Papau

~Watch Christmas singalong from my childhood (I found in the $5 bin at Walmart, I think)

~Bake some other Christmasy goodies

~Make chocolate truffles again for Christmas Eve

~Make shimmery snowflakes for my room; if possible decorate my own mini real tree

~12 Days of Christmas blogging (I don't know if I even want to do this though . . . as long at it isn't a burden)

~Buy, make, and wrap all gifts by the 21st

~Read Christmas stories

~Watch a couple of classic Christmas movies

~If possible, sew a Christmas dress; if not, complete another Christmas project

Friday, November 25, 2016

Link Love: Drama Llama

Sometimes we need to laugh about the drama, sometimes its too ridiculous and too continual to take seriously

Cut the Drama Lighthearted vlog about drama

But sometimes we do need to take it seriously

Being in the Know Is Not a Virtue (p.s. it actually can be a vice). We all have curiosity (otherwise known as nosiness, busybodyness, etc.)

A lot of drama is cause by intentional misunderstanding and misleading and being easily offended and slow to listen, but sometimes people have difficulty interpreting and need to slow down and ask when they really care. And others may need to explain.

A Tough Bible Verse to Inspire Shutting Up

And of course, Pinterest helps explain everything

THINK I've seen this on signs for this house, a good idea

Those who start drama and my sympathy

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Sponsor a Millennial and Link Fun

I'm constantly collecting bookmarks, and since I enjoy link posts (sometimes a source of the bookmarks), I thought I would make link posts occasionally. I'd prefer mine to be themed though, so this one is about generations, generation divide, etc.

I'm still not tired of finding new satires on millennials.* So, here is another one some of our friends mentioned.

Here is an extremely interesting division of all the U.S. generations (I found this after wondering how many generations back any American could trace his lineage, assuming the furthest limit).

This is a main cause for millennial issues. Also, hilarious, and points out parental issues (although you can have brats without material indulgence, or any indulgence at all) . . . and the snowball effect. This is common sense, people. Or rather should be.

Can you score well on these 8th grade exams? I printed them out and started, then realized I should just use them for reference to study!

*I'm a millennial, I realize, and I don't like when the boomers bash us, um, I don't think the people responsible for raising us and our parents should talk about irresponsibility, ya know?! I've read several criticisms of that generation's selfishness . . . snowball effect. Nevertheless, I am usually disgusted with my generation and the one after that (Gen Z, post-Millennial, iGen, whatever you want to call it), I know some most criticisms are true (I just don't swallow the disbelief, self-righteousness, and irresponsibility of the older generations, um, sorry, its pretty easy to figure out how it happened). Anyway, when people hilariously point out the absurdities of my generation, I enjoy it mightily (and I know I deserve a lot of it too).

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Election Day

I will hopefully be hunkering down and avoiding the Internet until the election is over.

I decided to edit my moralizing posts. Journaling and discussing within the family are the places for that. I don't really want to read that from other people, and most of the Internet is not a good place for discussion and many topics shouldn't be widely discussed. Unless you are a polite, good, brilliant, ethical, well-informed, well-researched, well-reasoned intellectual, please don't spout opinions on grave subjects of which you know very little. We shouldn't even form opinions on these issues without serious research, study, discussion (with trusted people), and thought. We don't need more unprofessional opinions!

Then there is the issue of privacy; these are MY personal opinions, and I'm not a professional. And did I mention that we don't need more unprofessional opinions?!!!!!!! Now, this is my blog, and I am my own censor, so I will decide how much I will limit myself. I will probably post links and maybe small posts.

Oh, yeah, and the Bible has a lot to say about too many words. A lot. Way more than this over-touted, "silence is wrong." Sometimes it might be, but that is hardly ever the issue. Same with the issue of anger and the so-called command to "righteous" anger; I've seen plenty of that too.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

My Favorite Songs from My Favorite Musicals

I started writing out my comment on this post, and I realized it would be far too long and should make a post.

Favorite musical numbers from live-action musicals

·       Sound of Music: the Ländler, “Edelweiss,” and “My Few of My Favorite Things”
·       Seven Brides for Seven Brothers: “Goin Courtin”
·       Les Mis: (not a huge fan; I’ve also only seen the movie): “Do You Hear the People Sing”
·       Phantom: “Think of Me Fondly,” “All I ask of You,” “The Music of the Night,”  And, well most of the songs
·       Music Man: “Good Night My Someone”

Disney/Animated Favorites

·       Tangled: “At Last I See the Light” and “Kingdom Dance”
·       Beauty and the Beast: “Prologue” music and “Transformation”
·       How to Train Your Dragon 2: “For the Dancing and the Dreaming”
·       Swan Princess: “Far Longer than Forever”
·       Anastasia: “Once Upon a December”
·       Tarzan: “You’ll Be in My Heart”

I like other Disney songs, but I think these are my favorites.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Classic Hollywood Celebration: Friendly Persuasion Review

I am linking up here again.

Former friends introduced me to Friendly Persuasion years ago. I watched it by myself first and enjoyed it and then more recently watched it several times with my mom and sisters. This 1956 film features actors Gary Cooper and Anthony Perkins and actress Dorothy McGuire (whom we've seen in the 1960 The Swiss Family Robinson which we also love). The film is very loosely based on Jessamyn West's novel of the same name.*

The story is set in Civil War era Indiana and features a rural Quaker family trying to live in a quiet way and being forced to come to terms with the fact that the forces of war are approaching close to home.** Each of the mature or maturing members of the Birdwell household has his or her own particular views and connections to the war, and this produces some familial discord. Despite all this family love, faith, and honor prevail.

Although the overarching plot leads to conflict with marauding Rebel troops, much of the film depicts the day-to-day struggles, activites and idiosyncries in this Quaker household. I love the depictions of the familial, neighborly, and outside world interactions of the Birdwells and how differently each member reacts to their Quaker responsibilities. Each person is a distinct individual and yet the conflicts tend to be small and humorous (until the end) and are always resolved.

As an older movie, the film posseses some drawbacks frequent to this period including noticeably fake scenery, not noticeably period accurate clothing, etc. The music underwhelmed me, nothing unique or heart-stirring. The plot is more a string of vignettes leading to a climax as the war touches the Birdwells with graduating intensity than a perfectly wrough plot, so at times some scenes can feel a bit random. Nevertheless, I love the portrayal of the simple, homespun daily life interspersed with plenty of humor and a little love.

If you need drama or a comprehensive Civil War plot, this movie is not for you. But if you enjoy simple, sweet stories and are interested in this unique perspective of mid-19th century American life and its gentle perspective on the war, you may enjoy the film. I had no knowledge at all of the story (a level of ignorance which I often love for books and movies) and love "homey" stories and so I appreciated the simple portrayal of Quakerism** and the war. Nothing too complicated or nuanced needing an intellectual conversation, but resting sweetness and simplicity.

*I loved the movie, so I got the book from the library, but after looking through it, I could see very little connection to the story I liked and decided I wasn't interested enough to try reading it.
**Because I must ALWAYS give a history lesson, I must point out that Quakers were not traditionally formal pacifists; they did place a greater value on overall kindness and humanness, but the stringent pacifism came far later. I learned this from Albion's Seed, and I truly cannot recommend that book enough.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

A Celebration of Classic Hollywood Week: Film Review of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

I'm linking up at An Old-Fashioned Girl for A Celebration of Classic Hollywood Week. Since I seem to be either criticizing or incoherently fangirling or only noting a few details when I write about movies, I thought I'd better look up some more formal guidelines for movie reviewing. I found two printouts from the Thompson Writing Program at Duke University (this and this). I just used the first handout and very generally, but I found it helpful.

My sister and I watched Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at a sleep-over with friends as young preteens or teens. I felt a bit shocked at what I then considered its coarseness ("Bless Your Beautiful Hide . . ."). You have no idea, little me. I don't think I warmed up considerably as the film progressed either. But later, after hearing others mention it, I tried it again, and then even later watched it with my mom and sisters. I own it now, and we love it.

Anyway, this 1954 musical features Jane Powell and Howard Keel (I've watched him in Annie Get Your Gun recently, and he looks SO different without a mustache) as well as several Broadway dancers and singers and an actress who later played Lois Lane in one of the Superman films (this we discovered after watching it with extended family and an aunt recognized the actress; I love how movies can be such an interactive experience). The film's main plot revolves around the unconventional (what an understatement!) wooing of "seven slumachy back woodsmen" e.g. the Pontipee brothers in frontier era Oregon Territory. The brothers of course run into conflict with the proper townsmen, but eventually all the (wild, sometimes lawbreaking) boys marry their (incredibly fickle) girls.

This movie is so silly, fun, and hilarious. Several of the songs are quite humorous and others are quite sentimental (these are NOT our favorites; we skip some out of boredom). Because Adam marries first, his wife Millie takes on the first part of civilizing the brothers, with considerably mixed results! The boys' own ladies complete the polishing work. Millie, Gideon, and Hannah teach Adam his own separate lesson. I love the hilarity of course, but I also like the sweet familial and romantic scenes mixed in all the drama and fun.

As is typical of old musicals, this film is short and the story is simple. Only a few of the brothers and only one of the wives show any great characterization. The film focuses on singing, (melo) drama, and humor. It is a light, short, fun film for when you aren't in the mood for intensity of any type.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Anne is . . . Mercurial?

I've heard a little about this new Anne of Green Gables mini-series.  One article described Anne as being "mercurial." Um, what? Like Scarlett O'Hara or something? What books are you re . . . oh, wait you think the first mini-series is accurate.

My sisters and I have talked this over. Anne is a dreamer, as in romantic dreamer of ideals, not harum-scarum ladder climbing goal-setter. Also, Anne is not Jo March (who could be described as mercurial); I think this is probably the type of character everyone seems to think a girl writer in the 19th century has to be (why?).* If you have to imitate another literary character, and not the original . . . try Marianne Dashwood, she is faaaar more like Anne than tomboy Jo March was.

I was skimming through a book about L.M. Montgomery and came across a clip of a stage actress whom Montgomery thought represented her idea of Anne. Trust me, not at all like the coarse faced, common-looking Meghan Follows. And the looks match the character and manners, the book Anne is refined, the movie Anne is brassy. Also, Anne of Green Gables took place in about 1876 not the late 1890 which is what both series chose.

Yeah, I think this series might even end up even worse (there were more ridiculous descriptions) than the first. Ah, me. What was wrong with the books?!!!! I mean, I guess they're better as books and a lot could be lost in translation, but I still think the film-makers could've captured the spirit.

*And Gilbert is NOT supposed to Laurie. And yes, he was somewhat stolen from Little Women also. I mean, in the second mini-series, the film-makers literally plagiarized a scene from Little Women. Now, I realize that Gilbert's character is not as well-developed as Anne's in the books, but taking another literary character from another novel plus giving him lines from a grumpy old man in the Anne books is a bit ridiculous.

Monday, October 24, 2016

More Old Movies on Amazon Prime and AFI's Top Old Hollywood Actors and Actresses List

Made for Each Other (1939)
A little humor, sweetness, romance, and drama. I liked it much better than Penny Serenade (I considered the simple home life genre similar), but it received much poorer ratings. Jimmy Stewart (and what a man: Reagan Republican and WWII hero!) is much handsomer and nicer seeming than Cary Grant (who I think is fit for romantic comedy, emphasizing the comedy).

An Affair to Remember (1957)
Again, I like Cary Grant in comedy, not gushing romantic movies; I cannot take him seriously in a serious role. I found this plot boring and frothy. And wow, was the main woman stupid. And I thought her first boyfriend much handsomer . . . and he was probably nicer. She was just such a goose. However, this line from Grant's character is hilarious, "I'll just take my ego for a walk."

Annie Get Your Gun (1950)
This was SO stupid. Howard Keel is handsome (he looks so different without a mustache) and the song, "I Can Do Anything Better Than You" is hilarious. But the music wasn't very good, the acting and singing of the Annie Oakley actress was awful, and the plot was tedious. I skipped through much of the movie. I had watched a clip of the song before, and I should've just done that again. It was disappointing because the singers were not equal in talent.

Also, you should check out the American Film Institutes 100 Years . . . 100 Stars. What do you think of the categorization? And how many of these have you seen? I feel like I have seen more men from this list than women. Even though neither Humphrey Bogart nor Cary Grant are my favorites, I can understand why they are near the top.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Chicago Pizza

We went to visit friends near Chicago a couple months ago. So we couldn't go to a downtown place, but we still did manage two pizza places in one day, the first for thin crust and the second for deep dish.

We ate at Aurelio's first, and we ordered one big (18") pizza and a couple people got a few other items. I got pasta and a salad and had a tiny bit of pizza. But between 8 women and teenage girls the pizza disappeared (with some encouragement and challenging). Also, if you go, you need to ask for brick oven crust to have the best crust made on the old ovens.

For supper we ate at Beggar's, a restaurant in an old theater. I had enough brains to get a iphone photo of the pizza but not enough to get one of the venue :(. And here we had deep dish. Now, I am not a pizza person in large part because I am not a tomato person, so I was not expecting to love a pizza famous for tons of sauce. I didn't, but I loved the crust from this place. It might have sauce in it (oh, contradictory person) as it was peachy colored, but in any case it was delicious.

After pizza we wound up with ice cream from an old-fashioned ice cream shop called Gayety's. Perfect.

Monday, October 17, 2016

On Leaving Books Unfinished

I feel that I have put down more and more books down. I think it is probably because I have spent more time actively trying new books. Anyway, I wanted to talk about my vague reasoning behind choosing to discontinue a book.

All of this is intuitive for me mostly. I just like to think out or hear others think out why we do or ought to do things. There are so many things that I feel instinctively are wrong but am not able to express why. Anyway, I am happy to eventually get to the point when I can figure out a sound reason for the why of what I sense.

Content Concerns
I think we all know the content issues: immorality, vulgarity, foul language, violence, revenge, etc. But we don't want perfect books with boring characters . . . i.e. total unreality. And the previously mentioned list would limit historical fiction to about zip. Some good concepts to consider are both how the issue is presented and how it is described. Is it overly graphic or intended for vicariousness? Is the author sympathetic to the action? I find understated descriptions, implied actions, and hints to be faaaaar more effective in eliciting emotion and far less desensitizing.

Quality Concerns
When we read pointless and poorly written writing our aesthetic discernment and mental acumen is weakened in the same way more serious content concern deadens the conscience. And an exciting plot does not equal a good book. Actually, sometimes exciting plots are quite ridiculous. Melodrama is no substitute for art. "Grittiness" and "realism" is no substitute for talent.

I find it far easier to put away troubling books than candy-fluff books. I need to work on selectivity, especially since reading is a leisure activity.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

A Review of Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways to America

I had this book recommended to me twice and was pleasantly surprised to realize that this is a serious, well-researched scholarly monograph. The subject is how certain immigration patterns in the early part of United States history shaped our developing nation. The author is very detailed and traces patterns from old to new world in four different areas: Puritan Massachusetts, the Chesapeake, Quaker Delaware Valley, and the American Back-country via a multitude of cultural patterns. He describes the differences and then demonstrates how these cultures and their clashes shaped U.S. history.

I consider this an absolute must for anyone slightly interested in U.S. history. I am learning more and more that we have to understand the cultural background (and this includes the worldview that shapes the culture) in order to understand the people and events that spring from culture. In college I noticed that in both history and literature classes some people cannot or will not understand that people thought in completely different ways in different times (and this is true for different places; we are seeing this in Europe's issues with migrant assimilation . . . and criticism of U.S. gun laws). People automatically assume that anything religious or spiritual is subservient to science and reasoning, and they don't or won't understand the difference in value systems or the difference between blind trust in scientists and fallacious reasoning. We must understand limitations of science and reason within the academic scope of the scientific method, critical thinking, and logic; blind trust in the vague category of "science" is as stupid as supernatural superstition.

This book explains the worldviews in as unbiased a manner as I have ever come across. He does not pass judgment with adjectives overly often even though many activities and attitudes are condemned now; he explains how these people arrived at their ideas and how these ideas shaped their culture.

I would advise you to read it thus: the preface and introduction first, then the conclusion up to page 808 and take a look at the charts on pages 813-815, and then go and start with part 1 and read through to end.

Although the book is scholarly, I found the writing style to be quite readable. And even if you aren't planning any particular historical use when reading this book, the book has fascinating stand alone information. I found the speech ways section particularly interesting, especially as I feel that my speech ways have been influenced by multiple areas.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Guardians of the Galaxy

Years ago, a blogger mentioned the magnitude of civilian death in Superman: Man of Steel. I feel that it actually wasn't near as much as most superhero movies, but I have been more sensitive to this issue since that blogger pointed it  out, and what with the violence in our nation, criticism of our guns laws, and Islamic extremist, I am thinking more and more of violence and the attitude toward life.

I am trying to realize that America HAS committed crimes. I am trying to understand that we have done great thing and we have done horrible things, but that the horrible things do not outweigh the great and that we have not been overall as evil as many/most nations and continents. Balance and facts, peoples.

Even if someone is evil, I don't think you should rejoice in that person's death, and the Sadism in some of the wars and etc.

Anyway, people were so casual about life in this movie. I mean, really, really. And nothing else about the movie stood out as spectacular.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Yarn Along: Entrelac and A Little Taste of Poison

I am linking up again after a period of laziness here at Ginny Sheller's Yarn Along. You will have to forgive the iphone photo. And the junk at the bottom; my room will never stay clean.

Since I am knitting two items and reading two books (just kidding, I have several books and knitting projects started, this are just the most diligently pursued at the moment). My sisters and I enjoyed the first Uncommon Magic book, A Pocket Full of Murder, and we are happy to finally read the second installment, A Little Taste of Poison. Don't you just love the titles? The covers, especially the first, are adorable. If you haven't read any R.J. Anderson, you definitely should. Her Faery Rebels trilogy and Swift duo are amazing (they are connected, but not a series). Unfortunately only the first two titles are available in the U.S.; I ordered the others via Worth it.

I've been making my way through Mildred Taylor's Logan family saga. I meant to read the stories chronological order, but I got mixed up a little although not in the "main" story. I am working on my first entrelac project, a blanket. I mean for this to be slow since it is so huge and to complete other projects at the same time. I am knitting a cashmere blend scarf with this gorgeous textured triangle stitch also. I really need to stop the scarf and shawl deluge a bit and work on sweaters. I am aiming to work through "Handknit Garment Design" class on Craftsy to design a couple sweaters.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A Film Review of Brooklyn

Okay, review might be too dignified for this. But whatever.

Tony! He was so sweet and precious and that accent (Northeastern American accents are not top in my fav/admired/respected accents) is so cute on him. He was adorable in character and person.

Oh, right the movie. Sweet overall, pretty clothes, interesting perspective. I liked that look at the 1950's; I usually think of poorer Irish immigrants coming over far earlier. I still don't "get" New York though. After reading Albion's Seed, I learned that it doesn't really fit in the original American cultural landscape. Another person suggested that I might find Boston more interesting because of the history. That might be part of it. People talk of New York fashion, but I just think steel, concrete, cookie cutter and mainstream rich materialistic snobs. The poorer side and the Italian Mafia and the Irish mob and Harlem have more originality (BTW. this is all in my mind, this Southern Belle has never been that far Northeast). New York just doesn't appeal to me. A little too much melodrama and some unnecessary disgusting scenes. I felt that overall the movie lacked something . . . salt, spice. I don't know. Take Tony out and you have the flat story of a silly and rather selfish and spoiled girl. Eilis wasn't good because she tried to be good, she was just sort of good because. She seemed to lack a will. And when she went back to Ireland her actions emphasize, expanded on this issue.

 I wasn't thrilled with Eilis' behavior back home; I can understand her wanting to stay, but flirting with that poor Jim was frivolous and cruel (as was ignoring Tony's letters). She was only in Ireland around a month. I could understand if she had stayed a year and ignored Tony's letters, that she might have wandered (which is wrong period, but I am talking about the understanding of it). But this just made her seem fickle. I don't think the struggle is very well-portrayed. And she seems defensive in the scene with that gossip. And as if she was only stating herself just to show up that lady and not exactly because she could make up her own mind.

I would watch it again, though. I could get more out of it. But I think that my expectations were too high.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Anne of Green Gables Week and Tag

More Anne of Green Gables things?! Yes, why not. Evie @OvertheHills is hosting a Anne of Green Gables week, and here is the link to the tag.

1. How did you get introduced to Anne of Green Gables?
Friends of our got rid of some of their books, specifically, 2-5 and 7. I grew up with Anne of Avonlea.

2. Are you more like Anne or Diana? Why?

I can be as extreme as Anne (you know that conversation with Marilla about soaring and plunging) while I can be rather too literal like Diana.

3. If Rachel Lynde called your hair as red as carrots how would you react? 

Probably almost exactly like Anne did.

4. Gilbert or Morgan Harris? 

I disdain to answer this.

5. Honest opinion on the third Anne film. 

Raving, maniac hatred. Let's please not think about it.

6. Have you seen the New Anne film? 

No. And isn't there a Netflix series coming too? I think that will be more professional than the movie. Probably not more book accurate than the first series though.

7. What in your own words is a Kindred Spirit?

Someone who share similar connotations; you don't have to explain everything you mean in childish detail. Someone you can trust.

8.  Movie Gilbert or Green Gables Fables Gilbert?

Yes, yes, yes, to this question. Green Gables Fables all the way. He combines the humor from the adult Dr. Blythe with the practically but romantic young Gilbert. The other one was a poor spoof on Laurie.

9.  Does anyone know where we can watch Road to Avonlea online?

10. Favourite book cover? 

Well, in the "original" ones I grew up with, I like Rainbow Valley (even though the children are not all and not accurately displayed), because while I like the style or posing of some of the others, the colors and hairstyles are just awful, not at all the like Anne who had excellent taste. I love this new covers series (although Blue Castle wins the entire series) best and feel it really accurately expresses the books aesthetically.

11. The Films or The Books?

The books. What a question. The films had some serious imitation plagiarization problems from the novel Little Women. Seriously, the books are nothing alike.  And the characters aren't either; Anne is nothing like Jo and Gilbert is not Laurie. The films take a small section from the novels and stretch it, change it and simplify it to cover Anne's whole life. They don't show her as an idealistic, romantic dreamer, but a immature, hasty, eccentric. She wasn't an immature eleven year old her whole life people.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Studio C Video on Millenials and Entitlement. . . or Really Anyone Today, "You Deserve a Better You"

Watch this video. It's hilarious. One of the laughing out loud videos. While you are on the Studio C channel, watch, "You're so Lucky." Another good recent one dealing with the competitiveness of hardships (!) and the condescending, "I wish I had your kind of time" attitude. Not as good as "You Deserve a Better You"  but still hilarious. Yay, for clean humor. And yay, for particularly relevant humor.

Monday, October 3, 2016

State Fair (1945)

Okay, Gregory Peck has a rival in Dana Andrews (okay, so Peck is probably still my favorite leading man, but Andrews comes in close second).

I enjoyed this film. Dana Andrews is so handsome, Margie's outfits are so pretty (I mean to make some similar), the Frake parents are hilarious, and its just fun. But I thought Margie and Wayne's naivete rather disconcerting. Hers, because normally for a story like this, the guy is a Wickham or Willoughby who means naught, and his, because a grown man should not be that dumb. Also, I can understand Margie's discontent; she had a unattractive, boring, maybe suitor, and wanted a more interesting life. But Wayne had everything he wanted and needed. I think their stories show the difference between not wanting to settle versus discontent. And I am glad of the ending, even though I think early Hollywood has a desire to make everything end unnaturally happy (more on this theme). I mean more often (Roman Holiday does exist after all) than modern films and more wholly.