Saturday, December 16, 2017

Christmas and Winter Questionnaire Day One: Beginning Christmas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Friday, December 8, 2017

What I Read November

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 7, 2017

I Finally Bought the Ancestry Test

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

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

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

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

BUT

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

My (Lack of) Travel Experience

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kentucky. Mammoth Cave.

Michigan. Holland.

Missouri. St. Louis twice.

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

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

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

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

Virginia. Williamsburg twice, and Monticello once.


Monday, December 4, 2017

Link Love: Genealogy and DNA

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 1, 2017

A Literary Christmas Link-Up

I am linking up here for A Literary Christmas.

My books are:

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

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

Discovering Knitting: How I Became a Knitter

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Link Love: Bookish

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 27, 2017

Link Love: Character

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 24, 2017

Link Love: Historical Fashion

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

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

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

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

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

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





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

Monday, November 20, 2017

Introducing the Newest Family Member

Meet our 5th animal:

Spooky little Halloween creature.

Some acquaintances of acquaintances found a family of a younger mother cat and four kittens abandoned behind a store (!!!!! Is it really so hard take them to the vet or humane society?!) and Babysister saw the post on Instagram (she's been asking for a kitten for awhile). Thankfully all the cats have homes now. The vet estimated her to be about 5 weeks.

The first week, so tiny.

We got her around October and she's already grown. She's braver, friendlier, cuddlier, and healthier. She is a bit funny looking. When my sister got her my dad said that she looked like a bat. I watched her as she played upside down and really saw the resemblance. My grandmother said she looked like a fox. Her white eyebrows on the black gives her a skunk-ish experience. None of this is sounds flattering, but she really is adorable and precious. She has all sorts of undertones, underfur, and patches of cream, tan, grey, and copper.


Those eyebrows!

My sister got her around Halloween, so we discussed Halloween type names. The little girls liked "Grumplestiltkins." She is black with green eyes, so "Toothless" was suggested. Then I saw a cat on Instagram named "Sybil Trelawney," so we started discussing Harry Potter names, and Babysister decided on "Luna." Trust me, that is the simplified version of the name discussion. We had some kittens (the sad stories) that never really were officially named which I think helped us decide a little faster this time. The girls started calling her "the Smush" before Babysister decided on the name.

Luna aka "Luna Buna" aka "the Smush" or "Smush"
Little baby has filled out a bit.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Yeah, our animals never really have one name. 

~Well, Snickers is usually "Snickers", but occasionally "Snickey Wickey"

~Sugarplum is tops the cake with "Sugarplummy", "Sugar," "Sugarbooger" (yeah, I know, but this is because we apparently love rhyming pet pet names, ha) and "Boogums" (again, wow, yeah I know)

~Mumford is "Mr. Mumford," "Mumfy," "Mumford man," "Smumford" (that is according to us, according to him he is "King of the Jungle,"  "Lord Mumford," etc. He is a cat's cat. Sugarplum is a dog cat: humble, grateful, needy).

~Holly is "Hollywolly," "Holly Louise" (according to my grandmother), "Demon," "Evil" (well, those last might be just me)

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Books I Read in October

I read or finished 13-ish books this month.* Over half of which were Agatha Christie books . . .

Light Non-fiction
The Not-Quite States of America: Dispatches from the Territories and Other Far-Flung Outposts of the USA by Doug Mack. Are all travel books silly, narcissistic, shallow, and dull? Or have I just had horrific luck? (I've got John Steinbeck's Travels with Charley sitting on my library shelf, so I surely will have at least one satisfying travel book) I want to see and feel and be inspired to visit these new environs. I felt that this book was a mix of popular history, polemic, and terrible travel writing (if you can describe, don't pick topics that need description!). I found the tone (particularly when the author himself showed through) smarmy in parts and rather boring in others (and yet I fell for his statement that there are no other books on the topic; I guess I should actually verify that . . . eventually). Also, the overall feel is depressing, not inspiring.

Reading People: How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything by Anne Bogel of The Modern Mrs. Darcy. I enjoy reading lightheartedly about personality, BUT I repudiate the sticklers for "types." I almost put this down when I got into the Meyers-Briggs because I can not stand how limiting Meyers-Briggs is while being completely based on opinion . . . and the author reinforces that concept. I then decided to skip that section. I liked the tests that measure your "amount" and the chapter on fixed mindset (her book recommendation is sitting on my library shelf right now). I do agree with another reviewer that the book focuses on self far more than the title indicates. The parts I found most helpful where the familial differences. But again, the hard typing seems to draw lines.

Mysteries
I read nine Agatha Christie books: The Moving Finger, Third Girl, Murder at the Vicarage, The Hollow, The Body in the Library, Sleeping Murder, A Murder is Announced, A Caribbean Mystery, and Murder in the Mews. The Moving Finger had a funny protagonist and fun subplots. The Body in the Library and Sleeping Murder are particularly disturbing, especially the latter. That scared me and made me consider laying off the mysteries for a while. Besides the obvious violence and other issues with mysteries I'd lay a general content advisory for various things plus language advisory over these generally because 1) I feel I must, 2) Because I don't remember every single book/issue, and 3) Because I'm lazy.

Lord Peter. I didn't have this listed as read yet I knew I read many of these stories and that I'd had it checked out at least twice before. But as I re-read and skimmed, I realized I'd read most of the stories and didn't care to re-read them all, so I went on a search and discovered I'd read two smaller short stories collections (I'd thought I'd only read one). So I only read those stories that I had not read before. Save your time and only read this one because this has ALL the previously published Lord Peter short stories.** I don't love short mysteries, and some of these are grisly plus they don't feature much of Lord Peter's personality, except "Tallboys" in which you get a hilarious picture of the Wimsey family, that one I definitely recommend.

Classics
Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry. I definitely enjoyed this more than my aborted reading of Jayber Crow and my read of Nathan Coulter, but I'm still not a Berry fan. I dislike the morals of the people and I loathe the fatalistic, deterministic, passive, hopelessness that pervades the books. I found the tone of Lila similar but faaaaaar more submissive than passive I guess? Just less hopeless. But that is hindsight. And also, the subject matter in Lila dealt with true hard things while Berry doesn't*** so Lila doesn't feel petty or complaining while what I've read of Berry's does. Don't get me wrong, Berry is worth reading. He is an excellent writer, definitely a classic author caliber like Marilynne Robinson. I just don't LIKE his stories. I DO appreciate his writing quality.

Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekhov
Ugh. More passive, hopeless, fatalism. Also, boring.

Intellectual Fiction
Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics by Henry Hazlitt. Brilliant explanation of economics. I loved how he explained both the short and long perspective. I like to think of this as "doing the whole Algebra problem." That is how I want to think of so many things. As Sowell points out in the below book and in his economics book, many people make issues zero-sum that are not. We have to do all the work, all of the equation.

The Quest for Cosmic Justice by Thomas Sowell. Timeless and timely. Sowell explains the paradigm divide in U.S. specifically but also a general timeless paradigm divide. He wrote this 22 years ago, and we are seeing the fruits even more fully now.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

*I skipped pages in Reading People. With Lord Peter, once I figured out which short stories I had read (by looking at the collections I'd already read), I skipped to the ones I hadn't read and read those.

**The previous collections are: Lord Peter Views the Body, Hangman's Holiday (includes non-Wimsey stories), In the Teeth of the Evidence (includes non-Wimsey stories), and Striding Folly, and then the short story "Tallboys" was published alone. Like I mentioned, all these Wimsey stories are included in Lord Peter.

***Except for that superficial and jarringly out of place section where Hannah pretends to understand Nathan's experience with hackneyed and generic descriptions.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

How I Became Interested in Green Beauty

I remember playing with child make-up sets as a child. Travelgirl and I took ballet as kids, and we had to wear makeup for performances. Mom let us wear some Mary Kay lip-gloss and natural lipstick on occasion, but other than that we weren't allowed to wear make-up (not that we asked, why buy makeup when you could buy other things?). I don't remember ever particularly longing to do so.

However, I developed moderate acne, and when I got my first job at 19, I started considering natural products to heal it. When I visited a local health food store, I noticed that the store had some mineral make-up on major sale. I bought loose powder eyeshadow and mascara then. I learned through trial and error, Pinterest, YouTube, etc. I look better in neutrals on my eyes.

I took longer finding cosmetics for my skin because the plain powder doesn't work well on me, most concealers were too thin, and I really don't care for stuff on my actual face. I was more hit and miss on face cosmetics until I started wearing Cowgirl Dirt, but more products are available now, and I am going to branch out again.

Green Beauty doesn't have uniforms standards, and I tried to look at ingredients based on guidelines from The Green Beauty Guide and buy brands on a strict list I found on the Internet. My main source was Saffron Rouge which has since gone out of business. More recently I've purchased from Cowgirl Dirt and Pharmaca (they carry a lot of green beauty brands including Juice Beauty and Dr. Hauschka and have great deals).

I've bought at least one product from these brands: Dr. Hauschka (multiple, I still use), Cowgirl Dirt (good far more green than most budget items), Juice Beauty (they've greatly expanded their offerings, but I don't know if they've fixed the major issue with their mascara bottle that causes extreme waste of product and mess of application), Nvey Eco, Ilia, Inika, Lavera (I think, it might have been another L name), Honeybee Gardens, Mineral Fusion, Zuzu Luxe, Vapour (I sent back, but I'd probably try again; I should have gotten samples), Suki, EllaRoseMinerals (on Etsy), Alima Pure, Root Pretty, Jane Iredale.

I have tons more products bookmarked to try, and I like hearing about new Green Beauty brands. If you like green beauty product what first sparked your interest? Do you have brand favorites or do you like to try new products and brands like me?

Friday, November 10, 2017

Link Love: Quotes

People, Pinterest is not the place to be deep, to give a history/social message. I go on there to pin pretty things. To laugh. There is a time and a place for everything, and I think Pinterest as a soap box is obnoxious and sloppy.

I've heard and read many misattributed (or not attributed) quotes, and so one day I decided to check a quote on my Pinterest quote board, yeah, the person didn't say it or in those exact words. I feel like a fool and promptly deleted my board. If I'm not going to research fact-based Pinterest posts (quotes, historical Pins, etc.), then I shouldn't pin them. I've since deleted my liked Goodreads quotes as well. I found this quote checking site indirectly through another person's link.The original article spoke of finding the absolute original quote . . . and then left out the earliest similar version in their story . . . unlike this site. I think you can submit quotes you want to be researched too.

And a manner of speaking I need to learn.

And quotable characters? How about Algernon Moncrieff. I love how his character is translated in the Web Series In Earnest (which did and does not get enough love, so go watch it!). Also, Ernest's reactions.
Episode 4 The comments on marriage.
Episode 6 Algie's running commentary. Yeah, the whole episode.
Episode 11 This whole episode, but especially the "three is company" conversation and "work hard at something pointless."
Episode 39 At the end.

This quote link-up looks fun . . . just make sure you double-check everything you read and post.
I'm very bad at filling this in, but I'm trying to keep a quote journal, but I need to do more than book quotes, I need to fill in basically all the lines of How to Steal a Million.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Exploring Cultures: Peru

I had planned a culture study series which started with Peru. I wanted to pick a country and study it for two months. But I boxed myself in too much and didn't find much variety in Peruvian resources (think the Incas and Manchu Picchu). So, I burned out quickly. I think that is okay though. This is new. I don't have to like everything.

I made Peruvian based/inspired meal. I started the first two books. Since I find early (and very speculative) history boring, so I think it would have been better if I hadn't been so dead-set on reading everything and skipped to the middle modern history in the reader and just skipped the second book. But instead I ditched both. Again. Live and learn. I can always go back.

I definitely recommend the Fire of Peru cookbook. It is just what I want in a cookbook. Photos (why do so many cookbooks think this is unnecessary?!!). A decent amount of recipes (so no decision fatigue and information overload), and EXPLANATIONS!!!. You get a nice introduction to Peruvian cuisine and basics before you get into the main recipes. The other cookbook has hardly any photos and a massive collection recipes and something I'd only recommend to those already well-acquainted and deeply in love with Peruvian cuisine.

My book list was. I started the first two but I didn't feel like finishing them, maybe I will finish the history one and skim the reader someday.

The Peru Reader

The Conquest of the Incas

Death in the Andes

The Fire of Peru

Peru the Cookbook

The Global Etiquette Guide to Mexico and Latin America

Next up is Iran/Persia. I think I will give myself a longer time frame. I also found more (naturally with the longer definitive historical and literary record and the importance in world/western history and culture). I'm also more interested, which helps.


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Learning and Re-Learning to Read

According to my grandmother, I took forever to learn how to read. And my next siblings. Travelgirl and my brother essentially taught themselves. I don't remember it quite that way although I don't remember much about that at all except my brother and I laboring over those obnoxious "Bob" books.

Mom read out loud quite a lot during the early years of homeschooling when we used 5-in-a-Row which is a program based on using wonderful children's books with gorgeous illustrations and charming storytelling. Dad read at least the Kirsten and possibly the Felicity books to me. Mom probably read Little House out loud also, certainly the illustrated ones; I don't remember ever not knowing about this series.

Mom read Little Women to us during my preteen years. Dad read Narnia to us twice during my childhood and preteen years, and he made us read Lord of the Rings before we could watch the movies (okay, he let us start the movies before we finished, but we did finish). We had one set, and Travelgirl finished first. I raced my brother since we ended up reading at the same time. I was about 13, he was 9. I guess that says a lot about my reading abilities.

A year or two later I had a reading melt-down. I suddenly wondered if I was truly reading when I read silently. I basically couldn't read silently after that. I read. every. single. word. out loud (my siblings said that I thought that I had to read every period). All my school. Reading was no longer fun, so I gave up reading for leisure and took to skimming all the books I found interesting. I think I might have read a few books in total during this period, like Pride and Prejudice, but most of these I read for school (we still used some programs calling for whole books; think Charlotte Mason method). This issue lasted most of my teen years.

When I was 18 or 19 some young people at our church started a book club, and I joined in although I'm not sure how many (if any) assigned books I read. We had such interesting games and conversation. Most of these people were readers. They introduced us to Goodreads. I began to persevere and truly read books more often. I moved closer and closer to reading in my head like a normal adult. Mouthing the words does still happen though. I got my own library cards, and for the last several years have almost constantly had books checked out.

Excellent books and serious readers (family, acquaintances, and bloggers) have always surrounded me. I've always loved the book world even while I struggled psychologically with reading. Now, I just struggle with discipline!

How was your progression to bookworm? Were you always one or did you discover the love of reading more recently?

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Autumn Music and Mood

I'm not that into music. I listen in the car to block out silence (and I almost NEVER here music on the radio that I like much less love), but I usually prefer silence otherwise. And I have a hard time finding music that I love. And sometimes I love some music sometimes and sometimes I don't love it.

I pulled out a flute/harp duet c.d (very Irish/Celtic sounding) because I thought of it and wanted to make sure I hadn't misplaced it. That got me to thinking how seasonally appropriate it was. And then I thought about autumn music. And what I think fits fall. Contemplative, sentimental, spooky, sorrowful, haunting. I love the season of fall but a lot of what fits the autumn mood is a bit too depressing for me.* This c.d. is a not always what I need even though it is so beautiful. And scary books? Yeah, I'll do Agatha Christie . . . and fall Hallmark.

I'm more into pretty fall colors, the actual change of the season, bonfires, and yummy fall food involving pumpkin, molasses, and spices. But I still think I need a touch of the spooky for it to really fall. And I find it fun to dress up for Halloween (again, not scary, just dress-up).

Anyway. I tried to think up some other good music that fits my description.
"River Flows in You"
Enya
LOTR** soundtrack. Especially Rohan themes.
Celtic
Folk songs
The Hanging Tree


*I may have mentioned this before. I know a lot of people joke around about the U.S. term (and the Pinterest quotes are funny), but I have a Latin dictionary and also looked on Whitaker's words, and "autumnus/i" means . . . wait for it . . . autumn. I even looked in my massive Webster's dictionary for some hint as to a deeper etymology. Other than finding out the origin is possibly Etruscan, nothing. So its an old word for the season. Yeah. I love learning, but I despise pedantry and sophistry. Rant over.

**I love the artistry of these movies, and I think the music is probably one of my favorite parts, but I have a hard time enjoying the story anymore. I'm really not into epics or really action movies (using that description quite broadly). And some parts in these movies are hysterical (where they aren't supposed to be). I'm not the dramatic teenager anymore, and apparently, I'm the hardened skeptic who takes nothing seriously, lol.

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.