Thursday, March 30, 2017

Geography and Travel Links

Seterra. This is addictive. I want some blank maps, some games (I am almost certain playing "Where in the World" helped our geography), and this map to help me better my geography.

Life in Germany. I like looking up U.S. vs. some European culture blank. Most of them have attitude and possibly language or topic issues. So it was nice to hear from a kind, Christian raised American kid. And he is funny.

Sometimes all the places that one can visit is overwhelming. Here is UNESCO's lists and maps of World Heritage Sites.

And here is how to find U.S. National Parks (historic and natural), Battlefields, Trails, Monuments, Seashores etc. by state. I've been to these parks: Arches, Grand Canyon, Great Smoky Mountains, Mammoth Cave, Petrified Forrest and Painted Desert, and Zion.

Other national sites I've visited or seen: Alcatraz (boat ride, but we didn't actually visit island); Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial (it was being redone, so it was empty), Blue Ridge Parkway; Colonial (Jamestown, we didn't see Yorktown); Mohave Desert (we drove through and had to turn our air conditioning off and ride with our windows open per the signs); Petroglyph National Monument; Point Reyes National Seashore, and several National Memorials and Monuments in D.C.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Top Ten Books I Have Read or Could Read in a Day

I'm linking up with the Broke and the Bookish for Top Ten Tuesdays . . . a day late, but who cares.

Some books probably shouldn't be read in a day by a slow reader who probably needs to take a break and do some work or school or chores, but you know, I get sucked in and have to stay up into the wee hours to finish. For fast readers all of these could be daytime books, I think. A lot of these are going to be fairytales or fantasy and middle grade, those are often fast reads. Keep in mind that I'm guessing and thinking in terms of a Saturday or day off unless you are Speedy Gonzales.

I'm trying to keep this to not as well known books (I'm I think I could read some Harry Potter and Narnian books in a day, but that is boring on a list).  Also, I'm grouping books together so as to get a good representation and not leave out any of a series. The first five are the fantasy and fairy books.

1. The Ordinary Princess by M. M. Kaye. A truly easy fast read and SUCH an adorable princess story.

2. Entwined by Heather Dixon. The twelve dancing princesses is my favorite fairytale and this is my favorite retelling. Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George is fun too.

3. The Faery Rebels trilogy and Swift and Nomad duology by R.J. Anderson. I think I stayed up for both of the latter two. Faeries in modern times.

4. A Snicker of Magic and A Key to Extraordinary (the latter is my favorite). Magic in the New World in the most appropriate place, Appalachia. I love it. A lot of the folksy culture of the folksy places in the Old World settled here.

5. 100 Cupboard trilogy by N. D. Wilson. Narnia-esque. Give this trilogy time to build, don't stop at the first one.

6. A Tangled Web by L. M. Montgomery. This is one of her stand alone novels. And it has a bit different storyline. Its HILARIOUS.

7. The Eagle of the Ninth series by Rosemary Sutcliff (The Eagle of the Ninth, The Silver Branch, Frontier Wolf, The Lantern Bearers, Dawn Wind, Sword Song, The Shield Ring. I don't count the Authurian novel crossover, for adults, because of content issues and the plot is more Arthurian). I love Sutcliff's historical fiction. Its hard to pick a favorite in this series. And by series, I mean each character in succeeding books is a descendent of the earlier book. Each can be read alone.

8. Jip by Katherine Patterson. I've enjoyed most of the novels of hers I've read because of the writing style, but this one is less well-known I think, and rather unique in plot. Try not to read any review or anything on the back or cover, so as to get the full effect.

9. The Penderwicks series by Jeanne Birdsall. Any of these I think are pretty fast reads. I prefer the last three. I love the everyday coziness and the accurate looks into the hilarious (to adults) reasoning of children.

10. The Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries by Dorothy Sayers. I love the writing and characterization in these mysteries. The drama doesn't so much come from the mystery plots so much as the characters and subplots (particularly when Harriet Vane makes her appearance). If you like you mysteries to be more novel like and less fantastically superficial (Agatha Christie, cough), you will like these.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Minimalism Aesthetic

I can appreciate some aspects of the minimalism trend such a less stuff and higher quality. None of this is of course new, but sometimes it takes outside help to motivate. One aspect of the trend I dislike, and its NOT an essential aspect, but one of taste. I don't like minimalism in decorating; modern, white, austere, neutral, cold. I need interest, softness, color, elegance, warmth.

I like houses like shown on this blog. We have friends with an artsy house aesthetic also. I like this, but when I think of maintaining it! Its not my style, and I would need fewer knick-knacks, but its far more my style than the minimalist look. I'm a crafter too, that is part of why I'm not a minimalist overall.

Similarly, I'm not a minimalist in style; I understand the need for fewer clothes, and I can do that. But I am not interested in the limited colors of a capsule wardrobe. I would rather have fewer outfits with more colors.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Minimalism with the Internet and Technology and Links

One of my goals for this year is to simplify, and one of the areas that I want to simplify is my usage of the Internet and Technology.

I'd like to cut down on my Internet time and to use the time that I'm on more productively. I want to go back to having only a few Internet/tech days a week; I also ought to limit the time on those days also. Here is a list of items to help with electronic streamlining.

In order to help improve my Internet time I want to focus my time and streamline my usage. I've started an Internet list in my bullet journal of all the things I want to do with my Internet time (I've tried this before; I need to use the list) because I frequently get on and forget all the things that I wanted to research or do.

Another thing that I've done for a while is write up a ton of posts and scheduled them. I don't weary myself of blogging this way and can accumulate content and ideas during the scheduled period.

I cannot justify any typical purely Social Media sites; I just don't have an interest or need. Here is an article suggesting we quit Social Media. But I do need to be more efficient with the sites I do use and enjoy; my three big Internet places are Gmail, Pinterest, and Blogger.

Here are some ways to help clean up your online presence. I've signed up for FAAAAAR to many business and blog subscriptions.

With Pinterest and bookmarks, I need to make sure that I don't overwhelm myself, that I can easily find and use saved ideas, that I will use them, and that I delete what I know longer need (for bookmarks at least, maybe some Pins although it is easier to simply Pin better).

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Top Ten Books on My Spring TBR List

I am linking up with the Broke and the Bookish for a top ten Tuesday. I'm going to pick nonfiction and heavy or long fiction on my shelves or waiting for me at the library to try to jump start some motivation. Five of these I've had from the library at least once already. I tend to read all my easy stuff first and drag my feet on the more intellectual or at least longer works. I tend to have something easy and something hard going at the same time for balance.

1. Confident Pluralism: Surviving and Thriving Through Deep Difference by John D. Inazu (I started this earlier this year but could not renew; it is smallish and not as academic, still intellectual, as his book on the freedom of assembly which I also recommend.)

2. Novus Ordo Seclorum: The Intellectual Origins of the Constitution by Forrest McDonald

3. Slave Counterpoint: Black Culture in the Eighteenth-century Chesapeake and Lowcountry by Philip D. Morgan (This is part of my self-made American history course.)

4. Israel: A History by Martin Gilbert

5. A History of the Arab Peoples by Albert Hourani (I'm proud of myself; I pulled this off the shelf while browsing instead of relying on my meticulously accumulated list. I found another in the same area which I want to read as a supplement also.)

6. The Brothers Karamazov

7. Dombey and Son

8. The Old Curiosity Shop

9. Mornings on Horseback by David McCullough (I pulled this off the shelf too, a special display, but . . . a biography, cringe. I'm NOT a biography person for a variety of reasons, but one every no and again shouldn't kill me or my brain.)

10. Something by C.S. Lewis (I have a collection of C.S. Lewis works staring me down. The titles I'm interested in are Mere Christianity, The Great Divorce, The Problem of Pain, A Grief Observed, and The Abolition of Man. I've started Mere Christianity before. I think I might just aim for ONE of this list and see where that takes me. I'm not into philosophical "reasoning"; I prefer logic, cause and effect, critical thinking, facts. As far as theology, it better be in the Bible, I've no interest in speculation. I could be reading history or economics for study. I put down Chesterton, he has great quotes and great points, but I thought a lot of what he had to say meandering, romantic, illogical nonsense. Make your point and support it or have done. If I get that from Lewis, see ya.)

Monday, March 13, 2017

Natural Bath and Body Products

As with make-up (or anything really), I'm not brand loyal. I like to try new products even if I'm not dissatisfied. I'm pretty happy with Just Natural Skincare and Green Tidings, but I like trying new either for cost or luxury or simply variety. Some items, of course, I need to replace with more natural products. I'm also too addicted to Amazon; I need to branch out more, I want to get some items from Thrive Market.

Face and Hair
I get hair treatments, shampoo and conditioner, and body wash (I use it for my face also since I get the kids version as its probably more gentle) here. I'd like to try Klurskin products for my face.  I have Yarok mousse and spray (I don't use much but need to have on hand . . . wait, I could be scrunching my short hair with mousse). I scrub my face every so often with baking soda.

I've been using this deodorant for awhile, but I'd like to try some from this shop. I need to use up my ground apricot kernel that I use as a scrub; I also use olive oil and brown sugar for a scrub, and I'd like to buy a natural salt scrub. I have various not super green lotions and lip balms (EOS mostly) and use Kiss My Face for shave gel. I need to get back into using natural soaps also. I also want to try organic or natural cotton pads and liners, cotton balls, and q-tips.

Teeth and Mouth
I've been using conventional toothpaste for budget reasons, but most often lately I've used this toothpaste and this mouthwash. My flossing habits are almost non-existent but I do have plenty of this floss plus whatever I get from the dentist. I'd like to start using bamboo toothbrushes once I use up all my conventional ones.


I'm a little too lax in skincare; I need to actually regularly use my masks, lotions, and scrubs. In addition to improving my diet (if I cannot do that not much else will matter), I want to be more proactive with my skin care. I want to follow the ten rules of Korean skincare from The Little Book of Skincare. I'd also like to get facials every once in awhile. I'd love to try some natural beauty boxes. I think I'm going to institute spa days on my winter bucket list (I'm scheduling this post per my usual routine). Here are some recipes that I'd like to try plus a whole list to choose from if you are more seriously into DIY.

Rose and Coconut Lip Scrub

Coconut and Sugar Manicure

Humblebee and Me's Recipe Index

Sugar Scrub Cubs One and Two

And yes, I can be a bit granola. But you know, balance people.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

My Classics Club Spin Book Is . . .

The Classics Club spin number for this spin is 12 so my book is Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell. Phooey. This is not one I particularly wanted to read nor do I think it particularly important to read. I was 22 when I first started this list; I've learned to be a bit more realistic and mature about deciding on books to read and about finishing books. I still want to finish my list though, and I am going to try to do this spin.

Beauty and the Beast Week Kick-Off Tag

I'm participating in Meredith's Beauty and the Beast week. At least, I'm going to do that tag and read a bunch of posts. 

1.When did you first experience Beauty and the Beast?
As a child I watched the Disney princess movie and read our large blue Disney Classics book (Mom just got this again for my sister who remembered adoring it as a child). I cannot remember how young I was, but this was one of the Disney princess movies I watched most (along with Pocahontas and Cinderella).

2. In what forms(book, movie, retelling) have you experienced Beauty and the Beast?
Beauty by Robin McKinley, Beastly and the Disney animated movie.

3. Who is your favorite character in Beauty and the  Beast?
In the animated movie, probably Gaston. He is hilarious. Lumiere and Cogsworth are fun too. Um, the couple? Well, the Beast is disturbing and underdeveloped (yes, I know it is a Disney movie . . . but Flynn he's ruined me for anyone less) and Belle is annoying.

In the book (Beauty), every character is lovely (Beauty has an interesting family). Beauty is a much more worthy heroine, but I still wish the Beast was a little bit more developed. However, in the book he comes off as mysterious which is good.

4. What is your favorite song from the cartoon Beauty and the Beast?
I prefer the tracks "Prologue" and "Transformation" to the singing.

5. If you were turned into a piece of furniture what you want it to be?
A side table in an abandoned room where I could be left alone until all was well.

6. What would your dream cast for Beauty and the Beast be? (This can be as elaborate or simple as you desire.) I just cannot pull anyone together quickly; I don't know enough about enough actors and actresses to do this easily.

7. If your school were performing BatB which character would you want to play?
Belle could be fun or perhaps an enchanted maid. Most preferably, someone in the audience. I'm not a theater kid nor EVER wanted to be.

8. Like Belle, do you enjoy reading books multiple times?
Yeees. But I need to be careful. Since adulthood, if I read books (or watch movies) too many times and too close together, I sicken of them.

9. If you were to write a retelling, what would you change?
Develop the Beast's character a bit more, give more detail to his back story, give more detail to the love story after the transformation.

10. Are roses your favorite flower? 
One of my favorites. Not so much store roses as homegrown ones, though. We had at least six in our yard as a child. Not those Knock Out roses that fall to pieces the minute you touch them.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Minimalism, Hoarding, and Excess

I'm not naturally a minimalist but the concept of controlling excess is not novel although minimalism has made it trendy. The concept was partially practiced in our family. My mom tried to keep our toys in control, we weren't given allowances, we usually only shopped for clothes seasonally on an as needed basis. I had clothes as a 20 year old that my parents bought me as a young teenager. But we also were sentimental and as homeschoolers, we had a lot of books even though we used the library regularly.

As as teenager and young adult, I had a problem keeping my room clean; to the point my mom would occasionally point out that it was a fire hazard. I would systematically reorganize and rearrange my room, but it was physically and emotionally exhausting, and I hardly got rid of anything and kept buying more, and so of course I could not keep it neat. Over the last year or so, every time I've reorganized this I've gotten rid of stuff. I also not been able to buy as much.

Minimalism and hoarding are parts of an continuum (I'm a little obsessed with continuums, especially since people construct false dichotomies with issues that are actually on continuums). Hoarding is at one extreme and asceticism at the other. I dislike extremes in grey areas (its a GREY area for crying out loud). Find what works for you and cut everything else out. I have a lot of things I want to minimize both physical and electronic.

I want to track my spending this year like I read about here although I'm not going to institute any ban. My major areas of stuff are arts and crafts, clothing, books, "for the future" and decor, and beauty. I need to constantly monitor everything because although I've cut down considerably, I need to always comb through to make certain everything is still relevant to my wants and needs, to ensure I'm using up perishables and art and craft supplies or throwing away broken or worn items, and to make sure I'm not rebuilding my hoard.

Monday, March 6, 2017

2017 Reading Challenges and Classics Club Spin 15

I updated my reading challenges page (adding way too many challenges, but hey, lets have fun), and I also decided to participate a bit more in the Classics Club while I finish up. Perhaps I may do participate with another list after all. A more reasonable list . . . with more reviewable books. Anyway, I'm going to participate in the current spin

1. A Portrait of A Lady
2. Brothers Karamazov
3. Coriolanus 
4. Cymbelline
5. Dombey and Sons
6. Grapes of Wrath
7. King John
8. Le Morte d’Arthur
9. Macbeth
10. Mere Christianity
11. Mill on the Floss
12. Ruth
13. Sylvia’s Lovers
14. The Bostonians
15. The Crucible
16. The Four Loves
17.The Great Divorce
18. The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit
19. The Mystery of Edwin Drood
20. The Old Curiosity Shop

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Extrovert, Introvert, Ambivert . . . Personality Tests and Research Are SO Much Fun

I love all sorts of personality/character tests . . . from Harry Potter House Placement (Ravenclaw through and through, peoples) to the scientifically questionable MBTI knockoffs to the Big Five test.

Generally, on the free Meyers Briggs tests I get the same answers, but the percentages change (I have taken some a couple times). Also, some the descriptions don't match well. I know of the problems with Meyers Briggs and agree (particularly the thinking or feeling issue), but I still find it fun, particularly when so many people assign the types to book and movie characters. I am seriously considering taking some paid tests, including the MBTI.

I recently learned about Ambiverts. Duh, people. A lot of the descriptions of introverts and extroverts are pretty extreme. And people in the middle are not all similar either; there are those who are steady and balanced in their middle characteristics, and then there are those who swing from side to side and their characteristics "average" out in the middle.

Take a quick test on the Quiet Revolution. And if you are introverted, what kind of introvert are you? Recognizing Meyers Briggs personality types in real life.

Kindred Grace has posted tons of articles and links about personality types and various tests. Here is the link to their resource lists.

The Enneagram Institute has a free, shorter form of the enneagram test on their website here (homepage).

Here is the link to a long Big Five personality test.

Also, this is kind of hilarious point of view (a lot of the personality types act like everyone is sweet and sensitive). Speaking of sensitive narcissists, have you seen this hilarious Emo Kylo Ren twitter? I discovered it from this blog post.

And this is not personality, but after reading Ultraviolet, I found synesthesia interesting, especially as I noted that this sensory disorder/superpower explains certain ways L.M. Montgomery described concepts in her novels. Unfortunately, I am not remotely synesthetic (is that a word; it needs to be for explanatory purposes), but I find it interesting to hear about anyway. So, here are some tests of the different types of synesthesia.