Saturday, October 21, 2017

September Reads

I read the most books in one month I've ever read, 17! Well, if you count plays (which I do). I was light on the nonfiction and heavy on the light fiction. I will start with the two nonfiction books I read.

The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis. I could barely comprehend what the sentences meant and how they connected in the first two chapters. I also didn't quite agree with everything he said; I think he simplified the situation. I am saying this from a modern perspective of cheap emotionalism (I guess that would fit in his visceral category). I felt that he added unnecessary "complexity" and that some of his argument or word choices were sophistry or pedantry. The third chapter didn't connect logically with the first two (I think each chapter was a lecture?), and I found it much easier to understand.

The Behavior Gap by Carl Richards. From the title, I expected a far deeper psychological look onto how we handled money. How we can have all the information but no follow through and why and how we can combat this. Instead, I got a shallow, dumbed down, forgettable pointless almost conspiracy theory self-help book. Which wasn’t helpful.

The Candymakers by Wendy Mass. A nice bit of candy-like and candy-involved reading at the middle-grade level.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Dickens. I went into this knowing that Dickens died before he could complete it, but I thought the mystery was unknown. He left clear indications in the book and in comments about the ending. The real mystery is about the detective, apparently. This felt SO dark. I know he had murders in other novels, but this was different, the murderer was clearly a socio/psychopath.

The Door Before by N. D. Wilson. Wilson wrote the 100 Cupboards a decade ago. I loved the trilogy. I wasn't super thrilled about a prequel, but I read all his fiction. I was far less thrilled when I started it and realized he was using it to tie 100 Cupboards (which is special) to Ashtown Burials (which is NOT special). One feels magical, the other sci-fi/action adventure. I dislike when authors seem to lose control of their plots and seem to want drama and "complexity" at the cost of quality. I feel that he lost control of Ashtown Burials and had to write this to add something to the long-overdue fourth book. Sorry, but this book didn't happen in my mind’s conception of these fictional universes.

Death Comes as the End by Agatha Christie. Possibly the best written Christie novel I've read. Also, one of the most, if not the most disturbing. I was in denial about the identity of the murderer until the last.

The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder. I came across this in my search for Peruvian novels, and since I hadn't read any Wilder, I thought, "Why not?" Wilder tells the complex stories of characters all involved in an accident.

Nick of Time by Ted Bell. This is first in a series. Time-travel and WWII. The tone is light. I feel like WWII fiction either must be light (and therefore totally unrealistic) or dark and accurate or it can veer into disrespect. Some may find the light-toned novels disrespectful though. But some may only be able to handle it from that perspective.

I Am Half-Sick of Shadows, Speaking from Among the Bones, The Dead in their Vaulted Arches, As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust, and Thrice the Brindled Cat Hath Mew'd by Alan Bradley. Book four tried to take the series to another level, except everything actually ends up absurd. We don't need a silly cult-like spy organization. I liked the simple mysteries set in an English village. The false "complexity" is out of the scope of the works and the abilities of the author. Also, the whole murder part seems to be more and more gruesome. Especially since the protagonist is a preteen. And then something happened at the end of the 8th book that made me so angry.

Lila by Marilynne Robinson. I know this isn't the first in the "series" but I felt that it works as a standalone. This is unique and well-written, something as rare as a blue moon in modern fiction. It is also hard to read. I felt that the author didn't handle the end very well. The pace increased and the story tapered off.

A Florentine Tragedy and The Importance of Being Earnest (re-read) by Oscar Wilde. I borrowed a whole book of Wilde's plays from the library to re-read my two favorites (I read Ideal Husband in August), and I thought I'd read the short A Florentine Tragedy. The story felt like one in Boccaccio’s Decameron. And I didn't like it.

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Finally Fall Book Tag

I've seen this post so many times, so I thought I answer it too. See here and here plus another Autumn reading post here.

1. In fall, the air is crisp and clear: name a book with a vivid setting!
Blue Castle.

2. Nature is beautiful… but also dying: name a book that is beautifully written, but also deals with a heavy topic like loss or grief.
A lot of Rosemary Sutcliff books deal with loss or grief, but Outcast heads that list. I would say it deals with tragedy and the loss and grief involved.

3. Fall is back to school season: share a non-fiction book that taught you something new.
Because I'm really annoying, Albion's Seed.

4. In order to keep warm, it’s good to spend some time with the people we love: name a fictional family/household/friend-group that you’d like to be a part of.
I think I'd what to live on the same street with the Penderwicks and Geigers.

5. The colorful leaves are piling up on the ground: show us a pile of fall-colored spines!

Not completely fall colored. But this is my reading/library shelf right now.

6. Fall is the perfect time for some storytelling by the fireside: share a book wherein somebody is telling a story.
Any of the Grandma's Attic books.

7. The nights are getting darker: share a dark, creepy read.
I'm not super into creepy. How about Entwined.

8. The days are getting colder: name a short, heartwarming read that could warm up somebody’s cold and rainy day.
An Old-Fashioned Girl.

9. Fall returns every year: name an old favorite that you’d like to return to soon.
I've got Blue Castle and Bookthief on my shelf to re-read, but I'm scared of not liking them as much or at all. Some re-reads don't hold up.

10. Fall is the perfect time for cozy reading nights: share your favorite cozy reading “accessories”!
My bed.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Birthday and Ice Cream



My family used to give me gifts, but I never kept them long. Mom mentioned how hard I am to buy for, so I started making a gift list (I wish I'd done that sooner!!!!!). I still get surprised because I put many items on the list for everyone to choose from. Everybody's happy.


I received a nice selection of movies, two cookbooks (I cannot wait to try some German cookies for Christmas), mini ceramic houses, and The Pioneer Woman's darling measuring bowls.


Travelgirl, Travelgirl's husband, my brother, my grandfather, and I all have birthdays in the same month, so we held a combined party. We made a massive slip and slide down our hill which was loads of fun. I wanted to make home-made ice-cream for this party (I made this pound cake for my actual birthday, and we ate it with whipped cream and strawberries). I made this mint ice cream (my sister had made it before so I knew it was excellent).


My dad cannot eat eggs, so I used the mint recipe as a base for the Double Dark Chocolate. I whisked 1/2 cup of dark chocolate cocoa in with sugar and cornmeal, I substituted vanilla extract for the mint, and I melted 8oz of dark chocolate and added it to the cream mixture before the ice bath. Unfortunately, I didn't plan my freezing time well, and we had to wait a day for our chocolate. So we had mint ice cream, and my brother brought homemade raspberry sorbet.


This seemed to be the summer for ice cream. Babysister had made the mint and a buttermilk base cookies and cream (not to my taste) earlier. We had also made a buttermilk strawberry basil pretzel ice cream a couple times. And then we made Country Living's Lemonsicle Ice Cream a couple times. After Dad bought a soft-serve ice cream maker, he made hard and soft-serve chocolate and vanilla a couple times.

Have y'all made homemade ice cream, gelato, sherbert, or sorbet? If so, what are your favorite

If so, what are your favorite recipes?

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Financial Links

After another blogger (Lauren at Chic-Ethique) mentioned The Financial Diet plus some personal decisions, I've started diving more seriously into budgeting, tracking finances, and learning more about money. What I really think is needed, though is something dealing with all of our emotional and mental tangles over money. How one foolish choice can mess up your finances later when you are making worse choices that could have been avoided. How you can know all the basics, but still waste money, etc.

Financial Books I've Read or Skimmed

Financial Peace. Always a great start although I don't agree with everything.

I know I read or skimmed something by Larry Burkett. I would always start with Ramsey and Burkett.

The Behavior Gap. The title is GREAT. I have all the information, but I don't put it into practice. I was hoping for some sort of helpful psychological discussion. This book is quite silly and shallow and repetitive.

Save Money by Wanting Less. Yeah, this requires some self-talking.

Money and Mindset.

Extreme Savers.

Items to cut from your expenses.

This blogger talks about his journey to financial "independence" (truly a misnomer if you think about it) via passive income (an interesting concept).

I'm not really in a place in which I need a strict line-item budget (not sure I will ever be with the way I want to budget shop), but I still like researching it. However, I think everyone ought to track their expenses whether or not they use that to formulate a budget. You can also use it to see where you've spent too much money and where you can cut down money.

Ages ago, I came across a blog post (I feel like I linked it here, maybe?) in which the author discussed how she tracked her expenses for a year. I decided to do that. I've been working on how to make the most of that information.

I made a chart in Excel (I think you can use Google Sheets for this) with the headings item, date, category, and amount (if the item is an expense put "-" in front) and with a total of the amount at the bottom. I then made a pivot chart with "categories" as row labels and "amount" as values (sum of). I used the sort filter to remove the "income" category and made a pie chart with percentages to show how I spent my money visually.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Autumn Bucket List



About a month ago, I saw a lovely idea for a bucket list here on The Enchanting Rose. I at first thought I "needed" to buy pretty patterned paper and jewels too, but realized that I could use stamps and paint to add detail to the paper we already had. 


I picked out this gorgeous sketchbook from my notebook and journal hoard (mostly from Half-Price); this will be my art journal for autumn and winter. I made my version fairly quickly for me although it has taken me awhile to post.


I am so proud of this. I picked the colors to match the notebook cover.


I kept my options rather general. I'm hoping to get a photo and art page out of a couple of these; I think that would be fun. What are y'all's fall plans?

Monday, October 9, 2017

My August Reads

I read 15 total books in August month. Here are the fiction books (the nonfiction are on my old blog).

New Reads
Auntie Mame. Tons of extreme moral issues of just about every sort, some from main, some from minor characters. Some unoriginal humor. Felt disjointed and inconsistent.

Big Stone Gap. Well, I loved the setting and Jack Mac (oh, I know he is a stock character type, but it is one that I fall in love with every time). But the main character is an indecisive brat. And the plot is like Jack Sparrow's confusing, constantly spinning compass; clearly manipulated to make the story seem long and complex, but ended up making everything feel like filler. Manufactured deepness and complexity in what is ultimately a very silly, unsatisfactory novel. This is why I distrust modern fiction.

Castle Waiting: The Curse of Brambly Hedge. Not what I was expecting, a silly retelling of Sleeping Beauty with some pitiful attempts at humor.

Christmas at High Rising. Some boring stories, some rather funny parts.

Flavia de Luce mysteries: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie and A Red Herring without Mustard. This series is my win for August after a bunch of lousy books. As soon as I started the first, I knew I wanted to get my hands on all the rest, so I quickly requested all the currently published full novels, finished three more, and the rest are deliciously waiting on my shelves. As you can see I read a little out of order because I was impatient.These are fun and hysterical. Of course, like all mysteries, they have so many improbabilities, but the personality and humor are charming, and mysteries are always fun no matter how improbable. I must say that the age of the heroine and her fascination with murder, bodies, and the details are a bit disturbing if you look at it too closely.

How Green Was My Valley. Oh, oh. How righteous is the mighty Clan of Morgan. If the Morgans' sin, their actions are not sins, but everyone else's slightest fault is the deepest scarlet stain. I could write a tome on this book. I don't feel like doing that though. Tons of vigilantism, pride, bitterness, self-righteousness (in case you hadn't picked up on that point yet), etc. No satisfactory character or moral development. No satisfactory ending of the plot (and what exactly was the point and what exactly was the plot?). Pretty writing of the fluke type; the style that an author uses once successfully because the style has the right tone for that one novel's particular setting and plot, but when you read other works, it is ludicrously overwrought and out of place (this applies to Markus Zuzak's style, and I'm guessing also Bette Greene and Anthony Doerr). Also, quite graphic sexual similes. Ultimately the story is flat, hopeless, disturbing at times, and unsatisfactory.

Idylls of the King and a Selection of Poems. Hmm, still don't love epics and poetry. I will keep working on my poetry reading though. I liked some of Scott's. I'm sure I can find some to like although I'm not sure I will ever love the literary form.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. Charming, sweet. Reminded me of Hitty which I think I now must give another chance.

Those Summer Girls I Never Met. This is unfathomably silly and trifling, and I knew it and meant it for a fun throwaway read. This is not one I really regret as absurd as it is. It is super short and is not fooling anyone on depth.

Re-Reads
An Ideal Husband. My ideal husband is the perfect mesh of Lord Goring and Algernon Moncrieff.

Monday, September 4, 2017

What I Read August: Nonfiction

I read/finished the most books per month this month: 15. Four of these are nonfiction. We'll start with the heavy

1. Slave Counterpoint: Black Culture in the Eighteenth-Century Chesapeake and Lowcountry by Philip D. Morgan. I will be brief. I'm not going into the topic, not the scope here, just the scholarship. Exactly the type of meticulous research and analysis that I think all historians should use. Reminded me of my favorite Albion's Seed in the scholarly rigor. I do think he could have cut out some redundancy in the end and much detail in the beginning (I don't need to understand every single step of the cultivation process of every plant to understand his point about the grueling brutality). So for my self-imposed U.S. history course, I have 2 out of 3 books in less than two years (maybe when I'm 40 I will have completed it), still, with all the books out there that are a great percentage.

2. Intellectuals: From Marx and Tolstoy to Sartre and Chomsky by Paul Johnson. Yes, this was rather disappointing. I didn't think the author wrote well. His points, clarity, structure, and continuity are unclear and convoluted. I do appreciate learning about some of these people, but I don't understand his decision-making process for including others. I have to say I thought he made mostly poor choices. I wouldn't call all his choice intellectuals and of those who might be not all were/are all that influential.

Now "ad hominem" came to mind, and many other reviewers claimed that the author made this fallacy, but I think that is misplaced and misconstrued here. I don't think he is analyzing these people's arguments; however, like I said before, clarity is not his strong point (if he has a strong point?). I don't choose arguments based on people, but I do think you should reject immoral people even if their arguments aren't sound; the ends do not justify the means. Logical argument is not the only consideration, there are also morality and persuasion. However, immoral and fallible are often confused.

I would definitely state that most of these people are terribly immoral and massively hypocritical. Some reviewers said he only focused on the bad. Quite frankly, unless he lied, no good could cover all the bad that he described in these people. I think it is good to know the failings of influential people, particularly if they practiced a lack of ethics and lied in their contributions to society. However, I don't think we need to know all the biographies of unimportant people (which adjective I think describes most of these in terms of intellectual influence). And we certainly don't need to know a gross level of scandal.

That I think is the worst part of this book. His disgusting, obsessive, voyeuristic descriptions of sexual issues. I felt that he had some sort of complex. I mean he gave waaay more detail to this, graphic in my opinion, than any other issues he described. Immorality and abuse can and should be stated, but I don't need to know such vile detail that he too clearly enjoyed giving. Some of the things he shared didn't even relate to the major figures he featured. Even if the book had been well-written, I'm not sure that that would justify reading this. I wish I had put it down. Actually, I should have put several books down this month.*

3. Belles on Their Toes by Ernestine Gilbreth and Frank Gilbreth, Jr. Sequel to Cheaper by the Dozen. I found this even funnier than the first although I will note that some may be uncomfortable with the at times slightly suggestive humor.

4. Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light by Amy Thomas This is indescribably silly, trivial, and poorly written. I didn't really learn much about Paris or Parisian culture. The author focused on

#1  Flinging a slew of French food terms that meant nothing to me without pronunciation aids (which is frustrating); I couldn't appreciate learning about new food because I couldn't understand what the food was.

#2Switching back between New York and Paris restaurants. Um, what about the rest of the city of Paris. And the book isn't about New York.

#3 Herself and her embarrassing, insecure, awkward, immature #firstworldproblems.

I had no connotations, no knowledge to draw from to understand any of the French terms she threw at me. I felt like she was being intentionally snooty and ostentatious without being in the least educational. I wish I had put this down, a waste of time; I learned so much more from my skimming of Lessons from Madame Chic, and I'm sure there are tons of better books on Paris and Parisian food. This book is one of the most poorly written I've ever read; it is clearly all about the author having a publishing deal for herself.

Not a great nonfiction month, especially considering the fact that I had at least one guaranteed excellent nonfiction book on my shelf that I could have been reading instead of the absurd/awful ones.

*Oh, and he also quoted foul language. Again, just stated that the person cursed or something. I hate when people write for shock value. That distracts from the rest of the writing, which oftentimes in such cases is weak.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

What I Watched Recently

I don't think I watched many new movies. I can only remember one new movie, a Hallmark, A Country Wedding which was super cute. We rewatched a lot of movies including North and South, That Darn Cat, and Parent Trap (I got all these for my birthday).

However, I have watched a lot of travel shows over the last couple months

Rick Steves Europe
This my least favorite. A bit more touristy/watered down history. Not enough culture or interesting details.

Little Europe (this featured five micro countries which can all fit into the sixth smallest, Luxembourg)
Israel (not Europe, clearly, but still under this show)

The Curious Traveler
I like the focus on architecture and historical details.

Kotor, Montenegro
Oslo, Norway
Bordeaux, France
Venice, Italy

Born to Explore
This is my favorite. He focuses on food, nature, handicrafts, culture, animals, etc. The Namibia show focused entirely on cheetah conservation. I think the shows on Turkey and Namibia may have been my favorites.

Turkey
India
Shetland Islands, Scotland
Namibia

Wild Alaska Live Special
Anyone else grow up with the Kratt brothers' shows? Pretty sure I had a crush on Chris. When I was little I watched Kratt's Creatures every so often. When my youngest sisters were little they watched Zoboomafoo. Us older siblings watched them too, but I apparently wasn't as devoted; the little girls can remember so many episodes and details.

Well, they've aged considerably, but still apparently talk the same way as they did in their kids' shows. A bit jarring. But these three 2+ hour long specials on Alaska were magnificent. They filmed these during the Alaskan salmon runs at a couple locations including Tongass Natural Forest and Katmai National Park. The show focused on how salmon is the keystone to the entire Alaskan ecosystem and feature all sorts of Alaskan wildlife: brown (called Grizzlies in the lower 48 and black bears, beavers, otters, orcas, humpback whales, bald eagles, gray wolves, an absolutely adorable porcupine, salmon (of course), and some of the ugliest animals I've ever seen, walruses. I had forgotten they existed, and I must have only ever seen photos and drawings of the supermodels of this animal. They appallingly ugly. Anyway, the whole show showcases the absolute gorgeousness of this area of our country. Glaciers, lakes, forests, fjords, etc. Well worth a watch or two. (I watched a considerable amount again with my sister who hadn't seen it the first time).

Ireland's Wild Coast Special
A two-hour show featuring man making his way around the Atlantic coast of Ireland in an old-style boat. A rather softer part of nature, compared to Alaska. Even the salmon look different because of the milder environment; they didn't go throught the bizarrely dramatic changes the Alaskan salmon did. Birds (including the ludicrous, adorable puffins) comprised a huge proportion of the wildlife, but we also saw humpback whales again, a blue shark, a basking shark, red deer (they are huge, my sister thought they looked like cows; the mule deer out West were huge too, not like our over super abundant white-tailed deer), red squirrel (much prettier than our aggressive gray squirrel which has apparently invaded and harmed red squirrel populations in Ireland and the UK), and pine martin.

I was looking up the name of the last animal and discovered the last wolf was killed in Ireland in the 18th century. I guess that is rather more recent than I would have thought although I usually think of England in terms of that (and they became extinct there two centuries earlier; that is a big difference though). Wolves are "extinct" if you can call it that in my state and region which is JUST fine with me. They are one of the most dangerous predators to humans and their animals. By wolf, I mean gray wolf. I think the coyotes around here may have red wolf blended in them.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

How I Choose My Books Tag

I found this tag here and thought I would do this.

Find a book on your shelves with a blue cover. What made you pick up that book in the first place?

An Old-Fashioned Girl by L. M. Montgomery. I saw it on my grandparents' bookshelves, and when they downsized, I got to keep it!

Think of a book you didn’t expect to enjoy but did. Why did you read it in the first place?

I brushed off some middle-grade novels because they were middle-grade novels, um people, those are what are blossoming now. But stupid me. Specifically, Harry Potter (I was caught by the fourth movie), and the Penderwicks (I got into these after all my sisters raved about them).


Stand in front of your bookshelf with your eyes closed and pick a book at random. How did you discover this book? 

Wuthering Heights. Um, well, it's well known?

Pick a book that someone personally recommended to you. What did you think of it?

Knife by R. J. Anderson (well, the trilogy and the duology that followed). It sucked me right.

Pick a book you discovered through book blogs. Did it live up to the hype?

Blue Castle. I didn't discover it, but I had written it out because of mistaken understanding, and when lots of bloggers started raving about it I had to try. My library had to get a new copy, and I saw the lovely cover and read the beginning, and I was drawn right in, and DID it live up to the hype!

Find a book on your shelves with a one-word title. What drew you to this book?

Entwined. Twelve dancing princesses retelling. Another blogger recommendation.

What book did you discover through a film/TV adaptation?

Pride and Prejudice. Friends introduced my sister to the '95 adaptation, and then other friends brought it to a sleep-over.

Think of your all-time favourite books. When did you read these and why did you pick them up in the first place?

All-time favorites? That is a bit concrete and permanent. Rosemary Sutcliffe novels (introduced through school, around age 14) are some of my longest loved books.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Top Ten Tuesay: Back to School Suggestions

I'm linking up at The Broke and the Bookish again.

I'm going to split my list, some classics, some historical fiction

I'm going to pick classic novels that I hadn't heard much or anything about until I entered the blogosphere or until I read the more popular ones by the author. I found the stories and writing style of Eliot interesting in her long novels (but not her novellas), and I preferred Charlotte Brontë's more mature style in her less famous works. And the less famous Anne has an interesting novel that is as gothic as Emily's in a different way. 

Classics (high school)

1. Middlemarch by George Eliot
2. Adam Bede by George Eliot
3. Daniel Deronda by George Eliot
4. Shirley Charlotte Brontë 
5. The Professor by Charlotte Brontë 
6. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë 

Historical Fiction (middle and high school)

7. Jip, His Story by Katherine Patterson (I love her writing and this story ranks with Jacob Have I Loved and Bridge to Terebithia in quality of plot and writing)
8. Mara, Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw
9. Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes
10. The entire Eagle of the Ninth series by Rosemary Sutcliff (except the adult crossover with King Arthur novel Sword at Sunset which is inappropriate for children plus doesn't fit in with the rest of the series well). This series traces a family line through the various periods, cultures, and people groups of Britain starting with a Roman Italian who marries a woman from what is now Wales all the way to a family in a Viking stronghold in the time of the Normans. 

The Eagle of the Ninth 
The Silver Branch 
Frontier Wolf
The Lantern Bearers 
Dawn Wind 
Sword Song 
The Shield Ring

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Books I Read and Movies I Watched in July

Let's just say this was an embarrassing month. I read a whopping 2 books and watched and re-watched a TON of Hallmark.

Books
So I read two books . . . but only one new one. I did read on plenty of other books that I will be finishing up in August (but that I easily could have finished in July, ahem).

Reread
A Tangled Web
Since I was not super motivated with my main stack of books, I decided to read something I wanted to read. I've since increased my lighter and fun reading pile. I usually have plenty of fun novels, but they are usually shorter, and I read them first, plus this time I didn't finish at least two.

Anyway, I had forgotten some of this, and I love all the details. I laughed out loud at parts. I went back and re-read parts again after I had finished re-reading.

New Read
Cheaper by the Dozen
Dad started reading this to us when we were small; he may have finished it, but what I found most memorable were the times he stopped because of not age appropriate issues. Definitely adult areas, but written in a way a child wouldn't understand, I think. I was surprised at this for the time period though.

Movies
At some point, I might start writing down all my re-watches because I need to limit my movie viewing. I don't want to watch movies at the same pace or higher than I read whether they be new or not. I'm not sure if I've listed everything, but this is bad good enough. I don't have much to say. We, of course, enjoyed the Thin Man mystery, and some of the Hallmarks (the last two listed) were dumb/boring, some were cute and funny (the first two listed) and one had a really funny guy but the rest was blah.

Classics
Shadow of the Thin Man

Rewatches
Hallmarks
How to Steal a Million
Roman Holiday

Hallmark
Surprised by Love
Appetite For Love
Moonlight in Vermont
Autumn in the Vineyard
Chance At Romance



Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Fairy Stories

Today's Top Ten Tuesday is a freebie (here is the list on The Broke and the Bookish). 

Mine is fairy stories, not really fairy-tales, but rather stories that feature the fairy realm. And this is eleven and all that I've read in this category.

~Fairies of the Celtic Lands by Nigel Suckling. This is a book about what is essentially Celtic mythology which is what fairies are. And this is the original dark stuff, not the cute, fun pixies and sparkles and Disney. You can see how Tolkien formed his fictional universe. This is essential to understand better the British based novels below (only Wildwood Dancing is not British)

~Faery Rebels (Knife/Spell-Hunter, Rebel/Wayfarer, and Arrow). Set in Britain and based on Celtic/British mythology. Absolutely riveting.

~Swift and Nomad. These follow the above three chronologically in the same fictional universe (and with some of the same characters) but are part of their own series. The author planned a third but to our sorrow, that hasn't worked out yet. These are my favorite.

~Wildwood Dancing. I love this. Set in Transylvania with a hint of the twelve dancing princesses fairy tale (my favorite) and touches of vampire legends, just enough to spook but not enough to terrify. I didn't enjoy Cybele's Secret as well.

~13 Treasures, 13 Curses, and 13 Secrets. These are technically middle grade, but be warned, they are dark (more like the actual tales), and the last is far too gruesome for that age (and for me in parts)




Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Art Fair Haul

My grandparents and I made our fourth annual trip to a local art fair again. I went once before without them and then after I invited them once we've made it a tradition. I love it. My attention span matches with their strength and the area is a nice, small size.


This lovely tray is made out of recycled aluminum; its as elegant looking as pewter but lighter and less expensive. The lady said is was safer for food use too, but I know other people disagree with use of aluminum with food. 


I love these little houses. I bought different sizes and colors for my sister, and I'd love to have a more full collection. They are adorable alone but can also be used for vases and planters.

I also bought natural bug spray and poison ivy treatment spray. The latter contains jewelweed. I'd read about that before when searching for poison ivy helps (I seem to get it every year, probably from the animals although I haven't got it yet). The lady who made these sprays says jewelweed grows by poison ivy which I thought was fascinating.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Books as Cake Tag

I'm still trying to tie up things for my new blog, and because I'm still learning how to prepare and not wing everything, this is taking much longer than I expected because I'm constantly finding out new things. So, here is another tag.

I've seen a few versions of this tag, but I don't like some of the cakes/haven't had some and didn't think all the choices fit, so I scrambled them up from the sources and then scrambled the tag up and also added my own cakes and categories.

Dark Chocolate Cake: a Dark Book You Enjoyed
All the Light You Cannot See. This is possibly the darkest book that I've read and enjoyed, but I'm not sure I'd read it again. I know too much about WWII (and yet hardly a drop), and I kept adding to what the writer said in my head.

Chocolate Cake: a Book You'd Recommend to Everyone
That would have to be non-fiction, sorry, I don't think people have the same fiction tastes. Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America by David Hackett Fischer. An amazing history of the colonization of the United States that explains SO much of our history and culture. Oh, I'm sorry is does that sound like a vegetable book to you? Well, it shouldn't. I found it quite readable for a scholarly work and absolutely fascinating in content and organization.

Angel Food Cake: a Light Read (because vanilla cake ISN'T light people)
The Ordinary Princess by M. M. Kaye. Princess and fairytale stories are my go-to light reading category.

Vanilla Cake: a Romance
I'm going to put something different from Blue Castle although that is good, everyone seems to be talking about it so instead I will choose The Harvester by Gene Stratton-Porter.

Red Velvet Cake: a Favorite Mystery
Whose Body by Dorothy Sayers. What caught me and held me to the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries. There are few boring ones, but the ones with him and Harriet Vane!

Cheesecake (cause I'm not a cheesecake fan): a Book You Didn't Finish
So many, I don't remember them all. I didn't think them worth finishing after all. The most recent unfinished book was the first of Andrew Peterson's Wingfeather saga. I did appreciate his humorous references to popular fantasy novels and the ridiculous amount he sculled from them. However, that is not enough for a story. His characters were awful and the story slow. And the scatological humor and other gross 6-year old boy descriptions made me want to gag regularly; this was SO unnecessary and beyond distracting. I ended up skimming and sending back to the library.

I don't feel compelled to finish books. I dislike the check box mentality. To-dos are for accomplishing worthy activities, not simply to complete something. Don't waste your time merely to complete something. and there are too many good books in the world and too many good things in the world to waste time on bad and mediocre books.

Carrot Cake: a Book You Had Mixed Feelings About (I'm not sure I really HAVE mixed feelings about books, I'm a bit take it or leave it)
I'm going to go with Jacob Have I Loved. I loved the writing, but the story has some content issues, and I didn't find the ending (and the ending writing quality) satisfying.

Pound Cake: a Book with Great Writing (because the best poundcake has perfect texture)
So many books have great writing. That is a HUGE reason why I like them. And I like reading whole spades of books from authors whose writing I liked. No, wait. I've found one. The Book Thief. I loved the writing for that, but when I tried another of his books, his writing style didn't translate well for that story, it felt overwrought, absurd, and out of place.

Ice Cream Cake: a Book with All the Layers and Details
I'm going to go with a recent re-read, A Tangled Web. So much going on here. So many lovely details that you forget and love to find again when re-reading.

A Teeny Tiny Petit Four (since every other cake fills you quite up): A Book that Left You Wanting More
Okay, I'm going to be lazy and pick an unfinished work: Sandition. Oh, it looks to be one of her best novels and best heroes! There are so many books that leave me wanting more to various degrees. More about continued generations, more about the characters' lives later, more details.

Cupcakes: a Favorite  4+ Book Series
I'm cheating, sort of. My sisters and I consider R. J. Anderson's Faery Rebel trilogy Knife (Spell-hunter in U.S.), Rebel (Wayfarer in U.S.), and Arrow the beginning part of a series with the duology (Swift and Nomad) following because of the same universe and characters and the chronology. I think only the first two are available in U.S., but I ordered them all from Amazon U.K. so all the covers would match together.

Fruitcake: a Book that Was Not What You Expected
Dr. Strange and Mr. Norrell. I expected more of a usual style of fantasy, but this was almost like Dickens plus magicians. Odd too in other ways.

Strawberry Cake: Your Favorite American Novel
I haven't read many U.S. classics and don't like what I've read. I prefer children's classics, and I will go with A Bridge to Terebithia. I love Katherine Patterson's writing.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The "100 Books the BBC Think Most People Haven't Read More than 6 of" Tag

I found this post via Olivia's blog here, but MovieCritic made it here.

Also, I'm not sure there is any evidence that the BBC ever made such a list or made such a claim. Nevertheless, this tag is fun.

The ones I've read (17), I've highlighted. I plan to read some of more of these titles. I'm not absolutely certain about all the ones I've skimmed or started (or which is which), so I didn't mark those. Many of the others I've never heard of. I'm not going to tag anyone, but feel free to tag yourself.

1.  Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen 
2.  Gormenghast Trilogy -  Mervyn Peake
3.  Jane Eyre - Charlotte Brontë 
4.  Temple of the Golden Pavilion - Yukio Mishima
5.  To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee 
6.  The Story of the Eye - George Bataille
7.  Wuthering Heights - Emily Brontë 
8.  Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell 
9.  Adrift on the Nile - Naguib Mahfouz
10.  Great Expectations - Charles Dickens 
11.  Little Women - Louisa May Alcott 
12.  Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13.  Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14.  Rhinoceros - Eugene Ionesco
15.  Baron in the Trees - Italo Calvino
16.  The Master of Go - Yasunari Kawabata
17.  Woman in the Dunes - Abe Kobo
18.  Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger 
19.  The Feast of the Goat - Mario Vargas Llosa
20.  Middlemarch - George Eliot
21.  Gogol's Wife - Tomasso Landolfi
22.  The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald 
23.  Magic Mountain - Thomas Mann
24.  War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25.  Ferdydurke - Gombrowicz
26.  Narcissus and Goldmund - Herman Hesse
27.  Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky 
28.  The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29.  Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll 
30.  The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31.  Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy 
32.  The Jungle - Upton Sinclair
33.  Tom Sawyer / Huck Finn - Mark Twain 
34.  Emma - Jane Austen
35.  Robinson Crusoe - Daniel Defoe 
36.  Delta Wedding - Eudora Welty
37.  The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini 
38.  Naomi - Junichiro Tanizaki
39.  Cosmicomics - Italo Calvino
40.  The Joke - Milan Kundera
41.  Animal Farm - George Orwell
42.  Labyrinths - Gorge Luis Borges
43.  One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44.  A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving 
45.  Under My Skin - Doris Lessing
46.  Anne of Green Gables - L. M. Montgomery 
47.  Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy 
48.  Don Quixote - Miguel Cervantes 
49.  Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50.  Absalom Absalom - William Faulkner
51.  Beloved - Toni Morrison
52.  The Flounder - Gunther Grass
53.  Dead Souls - Nikolai Gogol
54.  Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55.  My Name is Red - Orhan Pamuk
56.  A Dolls House - Henrik Ibsen
57.  A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens 
58.  Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59.  The Idiot - Fyodor Dostoevsky
60.  Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61.  Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62.  Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63.  Leaves of Grass - Walt Whitman
64.  Death on the Installment Plan - Celine
65.  Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66.  On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67.  Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68.  Pedro Paramo - Juan Rulfo
69.  Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70.  Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71.  Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72.  Dracula - Bram Stoker
73.  The Metamorphosis - Kafka
74.  Epitaph of a Small Winner - Machado De Assis
75.  Ulysses - James Joyce
76.  The Inferno - Dante 
77.  Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78.  Germinal - Emile Zola
79.  To the Light House - Virginia Woolf 
80.  Disgrace - John Maxwell Coetzee
81.  A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82.  Zorba the Greek - Nikos Kazantzakis
83.  The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84.  The Box Man - Abe Kobo
85.  Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86.  A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87.  The Stranger - Camus
88.  Acquainted with the Night - Heinrich Boll
89.  Don't Call It Night - Amos Oz
90.  The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91.  Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92.  The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93.  Gravity's Rainbow - Thomas Pynchon
94.  Memoirs of Hadrian - Marguerite Yourcenar
95.  A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96.  Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe
97.  The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98.  Hamlet - William Shakespeare 
99.  Faust - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)
100.  Metamorphosis - Ovid


Monday, July 24, 2017

My Sister's Pixar's Up Travel Themed Wedding: The Reception

Again, iPhone photos I snapped just before the wedding. Since the rain spoiled any chance for more professional before wedding photos (I wasn't crying over that), we waited in a hall for a bit before we went into the reception. People were already eating, and the line wasn't bad, so I didn't have to wait long for food (and I wasn't particularly hungry, and I was rather in an out-of-body state of mind). 


The dance floor is right in from of this. My sister has already hung the map in her living room. She spray-painted the bottles and decoupaged the maps onto the smaller ones. I don't have a photo, but she also decoupaged a grape soda label onto bottle tops which she glued with a pin onto the table numbers (another reference to Up).


These vases are for the wedding party's flowers.



I bounced around for most of the reception. Getting my food, getting candy, talking to people at various tables, begging for cake (the bridal party got the special home-made by a friend of Mom's wedding cake which was amazingly delicious, but hardly anybody ate any, so we shared some and pigged out at home the rest of the week), watching the dancing, wondering if I would dance, sort of trying to dance, getting mad at myself for it, and generally wandering around. 



The reception flew by (and the dancers, meaning mostly our half of the bridal party and friends weren't at all done dancing), and we lined up outside to blow bubbles at the bride and groom, and some children chased them to their car with bubbles.


More Up quotes



And then we cleaned up the place. An idiot (yours truly) caused us to have about 6 whole Costco cakes left. We shared quite a bit of cake, food, and candy. Although I was overwhelmed at the time, I think we easily cleared all the food and decor away since a month later almost everything has a place. My sister took quite a bit for her condo and the little girls took some decorations for their rooms.

Friday, July 21, 2017

My Sister's Pixar's Up Travel Themed Wedding: The Entrance Decor

I cannot share or link any professional photos because of privacy, so I will show you the quick snaps I took on my iPhone before the wedding.


My sister drew this herself. By the end of the wedding, people had filled out the balloons and spread the colors beautifully.  



My sister made this herself, and people filled it up wonderfully. She left places to put in her and her husband's travel photos as well.


My sister painted that painting ages ago (she's always loved Up). And she and her now husband painted their hands on the mailbox.

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Wedding

The day before the wedding, in the morning one of Mom’s friends (so many of her friends helped with the wedding) helped me with the all the flowers. Mom ended up having to buy my sister’s flowers from a variety of stores, so I ended up doing the bridal bouquet all myself. I think our bouquets were as pretty, if not prettier than professionally done ones, but the corsages and boutonnieres were droopy by the end of the day.

My sister had her four sisters, her sister-in-law, and three other friends as bridesmaids. We each picked either a grey/silver or blue dress. My sister gave us rose gold earrings to wear (they are so elegant). My sister’s wedding dress was off-white; her rings, shoes, and hairpiece rose gold; and her bouquet peachy coral. The groom and groomsmen were in grey suits with blue ties.


I bought a brand-new J Crew dress on eBay for $35-$40 (including shipping) which I brilliantly waited to alter the day before the wedding. I bought my shoes from 6pm.com, and I got them in wide, and they are comfortable for heels and fit just about perfectly.


 She had planned for an outdoor wedding, and we had had such lovely weather all the month of the wedding, until the end of the wedding week. Mom and the wedding coordinator (also her friend) bought grey and blue umbrellas the day before the wedding. We knew that rain was pretty much guaranteed, and although we practiced for an indoor wedding in the reception area, we ended up having it outdoors. 


We had most of the photos before the wedding, and then waited indoors, taking fun selfies with Up themed props. The rain stopped briefly, long enough for most of the bridal party to walk out (I’m not sure what we walked down to, but the grandparents walked down to a theme from Up), and then we were given the umbrellas (and one blew inside out and the photographer got an epic photo out of that moment). And though weather was cold and rainy, the wedding was memorable and the photos quite fun and pretty (certainly prettier than they would have been indoors). 


Thursday, July 13, 2017

June Movies

I've already written on our Star Wars marathon, so I will just skip that.

We watched the rest of the Thin Man movies our library has (After the Thin ManAnother Thin Man, and The Thin Man Goes Home, so we still need to see Shadow of the Thin Man). I watched the first with sister #3. Then Song of the Thin Man with that sister and sister #4. Sister #2 joined in for the three this month and so all of us at home are now hooked.  We've added this series to our buy list. Now murder mysteries aren't exactly my thing, well the murder part anyway. It is one thing to read them, but I grew up with a phobia of bodies and bones. And the first one freaked me out. But I do love mysteries, and the thing about these movies is Nick and Nora's relationship and shenanigans. Sister #2 said Nick and Nora are relationship goals; yep.

I watched Miss Potter by myself because I never could get anyone interesting. It was sweet and sad, and I wish the film showed her other love story. Not a favorite film.

La La Land. I thought the concept of a modern musical was fun (once my sister told me it was modern; I'd thought by the clothes that it was supposed to be set in old times). Granted I didn't like all the party numbers and the first scene reminded me of a silly Disney musical number, but City of Stars and the couple's dance numbers?! I wasn't wowed, but I liked it . . . wondering what the end was and guessing by what my sister said. I knew it was sad, but she said she know how it was sad. Which made me rather guess the ending. Except I wasn't sad. I was mad. Disgusted might me a better term. Here is what I wrote for my Letterboxd review:

 "Okay, that ending was absurd. Why bother to make a film about a "love" story that doesn't work out?! That's not "realism" that's absolute flakiness. The ending isn't creative or whatever, its feeble and pathetic. "Not working out" means "someone wasn't that interested" which means the whole love story is a lie. And it made her side of the story that much more silly and flaky. Stereotypical acting dream, stereotypical actor's shallowness and fickleness in relationships."

A sister suggested I just watch it and skip the end. I think I will do that because some parts were SO cute.



Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Would You Rather, Jane Austen 2nd Edition Plus Mr. Darcy's Inner Struggles

I'm borrowing these questions from Cordie. My sister kept mentioning and sending me Mr. Darcy's Inner Struggles on Pinterest, and I only recently realized how many of them exist, so I set about trying to find them all. Here is the original source. The link is to the beginning, scroll down to see the earliest, and then go to the next page and repeat. Enjoy, they are hysterical (note, some language).

1. Would you rather summer at Abbey Mill Farm with the Martins or spend the winter in London with your aunt and uncle?

2. Would you rather be carried away in the moment and insult someone in company or be overcome by horrid imaginings and have to confess your thoughts to someone you admire?
Oh, I'd far likely do the former, and I would probably prefer it too.

3. Would you rather marry Mr. Bingley or Robert Martin?
Mr. Bingley. We can see in the book that he's intelligent, kind, sweet, etc. while I only know that Mr. Knightley thinks Robert Martin could.

4. Would you rather tour the lake country or visit the seaside?
Tour the lake country. I'm rather tired of the Southern default to Florida. Do we have to do the same thing a trillion times? Although, the British beach would be new to me, but I'm trying to translate my experience here. I'd go to Colorado lakes or mountains before another beach trip if I had my choice.

5. Would you rather entertain Miss Bates or Mr. Collins in conversations?
I think Miss Bates would be easier and less embarrassing. I'd rather listen to Mr. Collins safely from afar though for amusement.

6. Would you rather sing a musical piece at a gathering while hiccuping every other line or take a great tumble while dancing?
Fall. Definitely.

7. Would you rather be deceived by Willoughby or Wickham?
I would rather be deceived by someone more clearly wrong and far less interesting, like Wickham, but I'm sure I'd more likely be deceived by Willoughby's good (superficial) qualities.

8. Would you rather fall head over heels in love with a man who turns out to be engaged or fall for a man too busy loving someone else to notice you?
If the engaged man loved me, then the engaged man.

9. Would you rather ride in a carriage or upon a horse to an evening party?
A carriage; I'd want to still look nice when I got to the party.

10. Would you rather accept advice from Mrs. Weston or Elinor Dashwood?
Mrs. Weston? I don't know. I prefer advice from people who have both more of a claim to experience and more mildness and humility of manner. But I wouldn't call Elinor a know-it-all.

11. Would you rather have as a companion Jane Fairfax or Charlotte Lucas?
Probably Charlotte as she talks. I talk a lot, but I don't like talking to silence; I want a response.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Wedding Preparations




I used this lipscrub recipe, but I had used up all my rosewater making a version of this setting spray, so I used essential oils . . . since this is something you want to be comfortable tasting or eating, I wouldn't do that.


Mom bought us new dresses for the rehearsal, and I picked this lovely dress from our local LOFT outlet. It fits me perfectly, which happens hardly ever. Several people asked if I made it, probably because of the fit and modesty.

I practiced my make-up ahead of time. I used mainly this tutorial (I also watched it the day of the wedding), but I also found this one helpful as well.


I made some headbands for my sister, but she didn't end up wearing them; she wore a rose gold flower clip I had instead, and I think that worked better with the shape of her head.