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, 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.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Bridal Shower

We threw a shower for my sister at the end of March

My grandmother has a lovely open floor plan, so we had my sister's shower at my grandparents' like we did my sister-in-law's a year and a half before. And I made cookies as I did before except I think I used a different recipe (this one by Alton Brown, except I added vanilla; they are nice and soft inside yet firm enough to decorate nicely). This time I did a MUCH better job planning (last time I made myself and a few sisters late to the shower we helped throw!). And I also made punch (not super impressed with the recipe, but I'm not sure I followed it right . . . I sometimes have "trouble" following recipes) and a ranch cheese ball (I will try to post the recipe at some point). 

My sister loves to travel (out of all of us kids, she's been to the most states,and the only one to travel outside the U.S.; she's been to several countries outside the U.S., once to teach for about nine months), and she wanted a Pixar's Up themed wedding and travel themed wedding. So, we had some touches of that at the shower. Not shown include her ocean and travel themed bathroom items, and her friend's gift of the Up house hand-painted on a plate.

 Yes, I know this looks like a Pinterest Fail, but I don't care, much, look at my other cookies! I'm so proud of those.

I made the traditional rehearsal "bouquet" out of the bows and ribbons from the gifts. Luckily almost all of them went together well. She had some strips of purple tulle that didn't match, but I didn't want to waste, so I braided those all together for the ring and wrapped it with the ribbon that matched. I was quite proud of my handiwork. Of course, she forgot to use it, but then I'm surprised we even managed to take it to the rehearsal.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Ranch Cheese Ball Recipe

Keep in mind that some of this is guessing as I don't measure precisely (this isn't baking, but even then I'm not precise always although I need to work on that for baking which is a science). I think the garlic might be a little high.

2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
1-2 tsp. finely chopped onion
1.25 c. fresh chives or 1 T. dried
1.5 tsp. dried dill
1.5 tsp. parsley
1 tsp. salt
1.25 tsp. pepper
Few dashes of Tabasco sauce
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice, optional
Enough cooked and crumbled bacon to cover cheese ball
2 (8oz.) packages of cream cheese
2.5 c. shredded sharp Cheddar

Blend all ingredients in food processor. Form into ball and roll in bacon. Chill.

We have a lovely marble platter that we serve it on. I also have this woodsy stump stand I want to use for gatherings.

In the same onion, chive, Cheddar, and bacon vein, we love this recipe (I leave out the sugar).

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Strawberry Cake

I made strawberry cake for Easter. I based it off of this recipe even though the blogger has a strawberry cake recipe, I just loved those vanilla cupcakes (I've made those twice although I used a mix of flavorings the first time and used a mini cupcake pan). I substituted boiling strawberry mush (from fresh strawberries) for the water (though more than one cup), and added red food coloring and strawberry flavor. I put strawberries and whipped cream in the middle and loosely based the icing off of this recipe. My sister thought whipped cream instead would've been better as it is lighter and less sugary.

Edit: I also used that cupcake recipe plus cinnamon to make Snickerdoodle cupcakes. Add 1tsp of cinnamon to your favorite white batter and 1T to your favorite vanilla icing. Yum.

Monday, July 3, 2017

June Reads

The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald
I disliked the book when I first read it, but a sister liked it, it seems a popular classic, and Hamlette held a read-a-along for it, so I decided I'd try it again. Well, I despise this book, probably even more than before.

The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke
I started this awhile back and picked up where I left off. It is a fun enough read, not anything spectacular although near the later part of the story I was laughing out loud, but the ending is less than satisfactory.

4:50 from Paddington by Agatha Christie
The little girls have been on a Christie reading spree. One of them asked me about something in this one, and sensing an ambiguous ending (which I now realize could put this book in one of my reading challenge categories, yes!), I was intrigued. Of course, the ambiguity didn't end up being all that vague or essential to the story, but I was still fooled (although mostly by Wikipedia, serves me right, I keep saying I will stop being so lazy and unscholarly for serious topics, perhaps I should extend that to fiction!).

Jeeves and the Tie That Binds by P.G. Wodehouse
I think I'm close to the end of the Jeeves and Wooster books. I will have to try to find some of Wodehouse's other works. I frequently turn to the Wooster books as a nice brain break.

The Golden Road (The Story Girl #2) by L. M. Montgomery
I love Montgomery's writing style so much. I love the combination of romance (in the general sense always and sometime also in the specific sense) and coziness in her stories. I like this better than the first book.

Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens
I enjoyed this, but I must say, I don't think it is as well-written as the others at least in terms of character development. Some characters are rather stock and the more "developed" ones have
unbelievable endings or changes.

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
So many levels of ugh. I wanted to try some classic dystopian novels and had suggested A Brave New World for our family book club*, but then I started wondering what good, what benefit I would get out of these novels? What justification for focusing on such vileness did I have? Why should have force myself to read these novels when I already disagreed with the premises, the worldviews, when I can already see moral evil? When I didn't want to? I decided it wasn't worth my time, and skimmed A Brave New World which confirmed my purpose. Fahrenheit 451 I read earlier and do think a worthy work although not very deep, but that left more room for discussion than many of the novels I was considering. Many of the others are written from a worldview so opposed to my own that I don't even understand their points or cannot agree at all or can find to point of reference. I don't think humans progress; we have technological and scientific building blocks, but we in and of ourselves, our very nature is the same. These novelists try to tie our nature with our accumulated knowledge. Accumulated knowledge is not accumulated intelligence or accumulated morality. Our whole cause and effect understanding misses each other by a mile and a half. I know things won't turn out as Wells novel suggests, and I see A Brave New World start to happen, except everyone thinks it’s great, thinks its improvement, and it’s NOT Marxist (how to people still cling to that absurd theory of class warfare, it’s so incredibly simplistic and expects an abnormal about of individual stasis?!) at all when people of all sorts support it.

Nathan Coulter by Wendell Berry
I'm thinking I'm not going to be a Wendell Berry fan. I'm going to try one more novel another blogger mentioned a couple of times as a favorite of hers (I tried Jayber Crow, but didn't end up finishing it. Nathan Coulter was short, and I'd already been disillusioned), Hannah Coulter, but although I might enjoy that, I don't plan of reading more of his. I think he might be better known as a poet, and he is also an essayist, so I will try a bit of those for varieties sake (especially because I need to force myself to focus more on other literary types). I found a strain of banality and vulgarity and in Nathan Coulter a cold, callous, cruelty that disturbed me. Some people might consider it small, but cruelty starts somewhere, and don't try to tell me cruelty to animals is not tied to people. I don't care if the author is "merely" describing it; that matters too. I was contrasting this rural landscape with that of Montgomery, yep, I'd prefer the latter. I must in honesty state I did enjoy one of his short stories (the first I'd ever read of him).

Popular Non-fiction
Mornings on Horseback by David McCullough
I'm not a biography person. I think they are often a dime a dozen and that we really need to understand the era rather than individuals or at least the era before the individual. But I felt that the author researched this quite well, and I found it well-written and enjoyable although I think the author stretched his explanations or interpretations in places. I might add a few biographies alongside my history reading.

The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis—and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance by Ben Sasse
I really enjoyed this book, and I want to get a copy for myself. It reads like a parenting book, but I think that those of this generation who want to change can read it like a handbook. I've heard many of the issues and answers before, but not as a cohesive, gracious, encouraging, inspiring whole. (I usually hear complaints and/or joking (the latter of which is fine by me). And Sasse does trace the root back to earlier generations (the Boomers who raised Gen-Xers and Millennials), but the problem is two-fold. You can choose to learn and grow yourself. You always have to do that whether or not you are raised well. You can be raised well and turn out poorly and you can be raised poorly and turn out well (and kudos to you if you did). You can learn by both negative and positive examples.

Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Explain Everything About the World by Tim Marshall
I have had a slight exposure to geopolitics or rather historical geo-cultural-politics, but I've never heard the term or knew that it was a field. I found this fascinating. I do think he overstates the case for geopolitics and significantly understates/undermines the significance culture at times, and I don't agree with his (sometimes simplistic) analyses and assumptions (bear in mind that he is a journalist not historian or policy maker). Nevertheless, this is an easy introduction into this field of study.

Night by Elie Wiesel
I read this for a reading challenge category. I'm glad it was short, and I intentionally sped through it. After my Stalinism class, I always read anything real or fictitious about this period fearing too graphic description and too much information. What I've learned causes me to fill in the blanks. Be careful of reading books without context. And be careful of this book if you are sensitive or if you have background information that causes you to view such books with trepidation.

I wish he had left any philosophical mention of God and humanity out of his explanations. (I don't mean his feelings at the time of his interment; I mean his retrospective thoughts). I think we do need to learn (carefully) about the Holocaust, but I feel so many people (Europeans really seem to have this attitude) of missing the forest for the trees. Knowing about genocides in no way stops them. Having Holocaust museums won't prevent another one. We need to talk about total and absolute depravity and humanity being made in the image of God. He said thinking humans were made in the image of God was part of his mistake. Um, no, ignoring the fact of depravity was. If humans aren't made in the image of God, if there is no morality, then how on earth are you going to label evil as evil? How are you going to say destroying people is wrong?! Ideas have consequences. Saying something is evil is meaningless if evil is a subjective term. This was another massive worldview divide far more serious but similar to the dystopian novels divide. Knowing is pointless without understanding.

*I mentioned how I missed our old church book club. Almost everyone there read; we didn't all necessary read the chosen book, but most people were seriously readers or as the case with me, became serious readers/revived our love of reading. I just feel like we don't have that kind of people now. There only perfunctory readers, people who read the current church Christian book, who read YA novels, etc. Anyway. When I was whining, Mom suggested we do a book club in our family. Of course, it only ended up being the ladies, and we chose Little Dorrit for our first book. I'm hoping we can have a discussion and a movie day (but that mini-series is LONG).